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On Through the Night

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Average Rating
★★★★½
(88 Reviews)

Metal Album Reviews[RSS]

  • If you’re looking for slick production, ballads, and the other stuff that made Hysteria and Adrenalize “distinctive” and “groundbreaking”, you won’t find them here. Does it matter? No.
    It won’t matter when you feel compelled to headbang to the opening riffs of “Rock Brigade” and “Wasted”. It won’t matter when the riffs on “It Could Be You” or “Answer to the Master” kick in. It don’t matter, it don’t matter, it don’t matter to me… sorry.
    There might be one weak song on here (When The Walls Came Tumbling Down), but even that would have been “Hysteria”’s best song, had it been done on that album. Joe Elliot’s singing isn’t all that great, and his smooth voice doesn’t seem to match to the raw, un-produced band. This is a minor complaint, though. Pete Willis and Steve Clark definitely steal the show with all those notes (Rock Brigade’s riff is 21 notes, and all 21 stick in your head, proving that a riff doesn’t need to be simple to be catchy. But hey, try telling that to Gene Simmons).
    Breakdown:

    Rock Brigade 10/10 This euphoric, fist-pumping riff kicks the album off in style, instantly making itself the best song. Def Leppard is in command, rocking harder than they ever would again… except for a little thing called High’N'Dry.
    Hello America 8/10 Catchy at first, but it doesn’t have the substance of the other songs on the album. Heck, there’s even a synthesizer part on the chorus.
    Sorrow is a Woman 8.5/10. The album’s only ballad. The acoustic verses suck, of course, but when the chorus hits, it hits hard. Not only does it hit hard, it also sounds very melancholy at the same time, fitting the song title.
    It Could Be You 9/10 Awesome descending scale or whatever you call it. Who else but On Through the Night-era Def Leppard would have the gall to write such a simple riff – with so many notes? The echoing choruses aren’t all that great, but everything else makes up for it.
    Satellite 8/10. I don’t really know what to make of or how to describe this song. It’s not really all that good, if you think about it, but the song is written so that you don’t think about it, you’re too busy listening.
    When the Walls Came Tumbling Down 7.5/10 Sound effects, no riff, and a standard galloping drumbeat do not really make a song good. You can’t blame Def Leppard for trying, though. And yes, that chorus is good, why don’t they repeat it more?
    Wasted 10/10 Not only is that riff downright awesome, this song is their version of Metallica’s “Seek and Destroy”, a song that their old fans still love and revere, even when the artist has moved on to worse albums and better media coverage.
    Rocks Off 8.5/10 It’s a cool song (sounds like it was supposed to be the b-side to Wasted), but for some reason it doesn’t stick in my head like some of the other songs do.
    It Don’t Matter 9.5/10 Reminds me a lot of AC/DC. I can definitely imagine Bon Scott singing the verse, but not the chorus. That and the opening riff (15 notes) separate it from that “other” band from Australia.
    Answer to the Master 8.5/10 Hey! It’s “It Could Be You” played backwards! The verses are good, though, a little better than “It Could Be You”.
    Overture 8/10. They set out to write an epic here. It might have worked, except there was no one to stop them from putting in generic guitar parts, making it 8 minutes of extremely high-quality filler.
    High’N'Dry is better, one of the all-time best albums, but this is extremely good, too. It’s too bad that they had to move with the trends instead of staking out their own sound. Sure they did eventually do that, but in that case, “their own sound” turned out to be cheesy bubblegum rock. Highly recommended!

    Posted on January 5, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Lep’s first album can either be viewed two ways…. as a raw, unpolished, rock out that they’d never attempt again, or as a warm-up of an extremely talented band that’s only beginning to find out what they’re about. On Through the Night, in most ways, sounds completley different from the ‘well-known’ material, and even their follow-up to this, High n Dry, sounds almost like a different band (and it was only recorded a few months after this one). Perhaps it’s production, because Robert John ‘Mutt’ Lange wouldn’t come into the Lep’s life until High n Dry, Tom Allom handles the knobs here. A few other things stand out, though, take them positive or negative. Joe Elliot hasn’t found his voice yet, it would take him until Pyromania for that, but this album, he’s not the best singer in the world. Steve Clark is relegated almost entirely to rhythm guitar, while Pete Willis takes center stage (and he’s quite good), this would also change by next album, with the twin-guitar interplay coming into effect. This album’s highlights are Rock Brigade, Wasted, and The Overture. Just to go into detail on the latter, the Overture is easily one of the best songs Leppard has ever done, suprising at this stage in their careers. It’s the most majestic ‘epic’ they’ve ever recorded, and every fan should hear it. Another highlight of the album is Rick Allen, once upon a time he had two arms and he used them quite well here. He’s easily the most accomplished musician of the band, at that point in time, and he was the youngest, too, barely 17 at the time this album was released. His drumming rivals some of the great names of the day. He’s no better or worse anymore but his style certainly has changed, he’s merely different. On Through the Night won’t appeal to Leppard fans who like their ‘Have you Ever Needed Someone So Bad’ or their ‘Goodbye’. It’s a metal album, not a pop-rock album. But it’s a damn good metal album, unpolished, but good, and while their subsequent albums bordered on perfection, one can’t help but wonder what would’ve happened had Leppard never even met Mutt Lange.

    Posted on January 5, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • My friends and I in high school became Def Leppard fans because of this album. The real item of interest when this was released was that the guys, except for Joe Elliot, were all teenagers. The drummer, if I recall, was only 16. However, to my ear, the guitar playing and drumming, from a technical standpoint, are better on this album than the follow-ups. I seem to recall the band recorded it in a very short period of time due to budget constraints, which makes it all the more impressive. Many Def Leppard fans may not like this album because it sounds so different from the band’s later work. Joe’s vocals don’t have the rough edge we’re all used to (though they’re good). And the songwriting is very different — very riff oriented. More influenced by UFO than AC/DC. But even if this doesn’t sound like the Def Leppard everyone grew to love, the songs are still good. Some, like “Wasted” and “Rock Brigade,” are very good. This release will help fans reali! ze what a huge influence Mutt Lange (and probably AC/DC) had on the band. When it came out, “On Through the Night” stood on its own as a strong British metal release. And when the follow-up, “High and Dry,” came out, we thought we had all died and gone to heaven. . .

    Posted on January 4, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • 4.5 Stars

    If someone played you “On Through the Night,” without telling you who it was at first, you may be very surprised to learn that it’s Def Leppard’s debut album. Released in early 1980, before the band hooked up with its sixth unofficial member, producer John “Mutt” Lange, “On through the Night” sounds nothing like any other album in the British quintet’s catalogue. While Def Leppard, along with Van Halen, proved to be the decade’s innovators, more or less in inventing the formula known as “pop-metal,” on their debut, Def Leppard was just another band from the NWOBHM (New Wave of British Heavy Metal). In addition, with a hint of blues-based metal and Jimmy Page-esque riffs and arraignments, there is a clear influence of Led Zeppelin on “On Through the Night.” Tom Allom, who produced such Judas Priest classics as “British Steel” (1980) and “Screaming for Vengeance,” (1982) was on board for “On Through the Night” and it shows.

    While Def Leppard’s debut is somewhat derivative of Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, and Led Zeppelin, it’s still an excellent album. The thing that immediately strikes the listener is how young the band sounds. At the time of its release, the members of Def Leppard were in their late teens and early 20s. The band sounds so youthful, so hungry, and so wanting to rock. Singer Joe Elliot sounds great, doing the best Robert Plant/Rob Halford/Bon Scott impersonation that anyone could hope for. Guitarists Steve Clarke (lead) and Pete Willis (rhythm) provide tremendous instrumental firepower. While their playing isn’t groundbreaking, they sound alive and invigorated. Steve Clarke shows early on that he was “the riff-master,” delivering killer song after song. “On Through the Night” may be a little unoriginal, but the riffs and solos are fully captivating and effective. Bassist Rick Savage and drummer Rick Allen provide an exciting and dynamic rhythm section.

    On “On Through the Night,” the band just plain sounds good. One thing going for this album is that it sounds very live. There aren’t a lot of overdubs, it sounds as though the band just went into the studio, cut an album in a few takes, and that was that.

    A lost Leppard classic, the opening “Rock Brigade” takes no prisoners and makes the band’s ambitions to play the arenas known. It sounds almost like a sped-up version of “Good Times, Bad Times” from Led Zeppelin I (1969). An early hit, “Hello America” shows even without Mutt Lange, the band’s innate pop-sensibility. As others have noted, the light keyboards add a nice effect. Led Zeppelin again makes its influence known with the hard-rocking-but-bluesy “Sorrow is a Woman.” “It could be you,” with its echoing vocals and Jimmy Page inspired riff, sounds a lot like Led Zeppelin’s “The Immigrant Song,” as noted by others. The melodic, metallic “Satellite,” sounds as though it came right from Judas Priest’s “Hell Bent for Leather” (1980) album. Def Leppard comes very close to Spinal Tap country with the Iron Maiden/Dungeons and Dragons mythological epic “When the Walls Came Tumbling Down.” It’s a little silly, and dated, but the song rocks hard and is effective. “On Through the Night” goes into full-out heavy metal mode with the blistering “Wasted.” Judas Priest again rears it influence with the slightly generic “Rocks Off.” While not a great song, it’s good and keeps up the momentum. “It don’t Matter,” gets the album back on track with its engrossing, mild-mannered verse that builds up into a satisfying melodic chorus. “Answer to the Master” is another good-but-not-great Zeppelin inspired mid-paced rocker. The album ends triumphantly with the majestic “Overture,” which sounds like a cross between “Stairway to Heaven” and Boston’s “More than a Feeling.”

    When people think of Def Leppard, they undoubtedly think of such classics as “Pyromania,” (1983) and “Hysteria,” or the stink-bomb “Adrenalize” (1992). “On Through the Night,” and its equally underrated follow-up “High and Dry,” (1982) have unfortunately been overlooked and remain lost gems. While “On Through the Night” isn’t the most groundbreaking or original album in the world, it’s still a fine CD that fans of Def Leppard and rock in general should check out.

    Posted on January 4, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now
  • Basically Def Leppard emerged from the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (NWOBHM) in 1979. Groups such as Iron Maiden, Saxon, and Def Leppard were about the only groups from that period to find success. Saxon was never popular in the U.S. but was huge everywhere else. Iron Maiden made it here in the U.S. like Def Leppard. I first heard “Rock Brigade” played on one South Florida radio station and I immediately went out to buy it. The entire l.p. was solid hard rock, not commercial stuff! Just listen to songs such as “Rock Brigade”, “Wasted”, and “Rocks Off”. Great guitar licks courtesy of Steve Clark and Pete Willis are spread throughout this debut l.p. If your looking for Def Leppard commercialized stuff (ex.”Photograph”) you won’t find it on this release. Also their followup l.p. High N’ Dry” is a masterpiece. Yes it does have their hit “Bringin’ on the Heartbreak” which became commercialized thanks to MTV, but it also showed that Def Leppard could write great ballads as well as rock. Other than that, the l.p. just smokes and is even better than “On Through the Night”. Highly recommended!

    Posted on January 4, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now