The Top 30 Albums of 2008 (#1-#15)

2008 was another great year for new Hard Rock and Heavy Metal albums and I was lucky to have heard a great many of them. There were hundreds of new albums released by hundreds of bands over a wide range of Metal genres, it was very hard to keep up especially when I’m spending my hard-earned cash! Unfortunately, I can’t buy every new album so there are more than a few that I have missed. I buy a lot of music but the failing economy took it’s toll on my music budget. I was very lucky to have caught the attention of many labels, PR firms, and bands sending in their CDs for review (to all of them I would like to extend a very grateful THANK YOU), without these promotions I would have never heard some great releases.

The only criteria I followed for my Top 30 was that the album had to be a studio album, not a live record, best of, or covers collection. The ranking of the Top 30 is based solely on my enjoyment of the album and not some scientific formula. Bottom line: I had to like it! There were so many releases this year that I doubled the list this year so I will be splitting it into two posts. Be sure to check out the links to the album reviews. So here it is, my Top 30 Albums of 2008 (#1-#15):

#1

Avantasia - The Scarecrow (2008)Avantasia – The Scarecrow

Tobias Sammet (Edguy) has the magic touch this year and his new concept album THE SCARECROW takes the top spot as Album Of The Year. The album is similar to the first two Avantasia albums, METAL OPERA 1 & 2, in that it is full of guest stars (Alice Cooper, Jorn Lande, Rudolf Schenker, Michael Kiske, Eric Singer, and more) performing  this combination of epic Power Metal blended with hard Rock, Classic Rock, Classical and Folk. That’s a lot to take in at once! Every song is very melodic and I found myself easily singing along after a couple of spins. A good album is one that leaves a lasting impression and THE SCARECROW has been part of my weekly playlist since it’s release in January.

#2

Ayreon - 01011001 (2008)Ayreon – 01011001

A close second! Arjen Anthony Lucassen’s Ayreon project is similar to Avantasia with all of the guest stars performing and the epic nature of the music. The difference is that Ayreon’s music is longer, more epic and follows a storyline that started on previous albums. (For a good explanation of the plot, read this album’s Wikipedia page.) This album is almost 2 hours of Progressive Rock & Metal, Power Metal, and Symphonic Metal that is both melodic and heavy…..there is a lot to take in! Even the packaging is complex! There are layers of sound in each song that you sometimes here something different the next time you here it. 01011001 is a little less accessible than THE SCARECROW due to it’s length (2 CDs) and heavy concept but it was a very close second. So close in fact that I almost called a tie!

#3

whitesnakegood_to_be_badWhitesnake – Good To Be Bad

It took 11 years but we finally got a new Whitesnake record and it is a great comeback for David Coverdale. Most of the album retains the Blues Rock that was the basis of the early Whitesnake album while leaning on that big ’80s sound. The songs are full of hooks and great guitar work (Doug Aldrich & Reb Beach) along with that thick Coverdale voice. I had seen the band tour with the Scorpions a couple of years earlier and they were awesome in concert. I knew a new record would have a great sound. It was also good to see this album get a ton of promotion, especially on U.S. television, I didn’t expect to see constant commercials on different channels advertising the CD. In a year full of comebacks (AC/DC, Guns N Roses, Journey), I have to give Whitesnake the best comeback of the year!

#4

Judas Priest - Nostradamus (2008)Judas Priest – Nostradamus

Let the debate begin! Of all the big releases this year from big time bands, no album had more debate then Judas Priest’s double concept album NOSTRADAMUS. I’ve heard all the arguements from “it’s not straight forward Judas Priest” to “it’s too long” to “the concept sucks” to “Iron Maiden could have done it better”…..I think a lot of fans were down on the project due to purely nostalgic reasons. We aren’t going to get the BRITISH STEEL era Judas Priest because they have evolved as musicians and this concept album is what they wanted to do. I’ll admit that Priest isn’t known for their albums being complete epics, they’re more straight forward in their approach, but that doesn’t mean that NOSTRADAMUS is devoid of what makes Priest great. Half the album is instrumental intros that kind of make the album drawn out but the songs do have the Metal that Priest is known for. Rob Halford’s voice sounds better than it has in years and he puts in perhaps the performance of his career. The music is really good if you listen without prejudice and I don’t want to get into that synth guitar arguement because KK Downing & Glenn Tipton have been using them all along. Give NOSTRADAMUS a spin without hoping for 1980 Judas Priest and you will find a great album. This album was tough to get through due to the length (close to 2 hours) but repeated listens have pushed this album from a grower to #4.

#5

Royal Hunt - Collision Course - Paradox II Royal Hunt – Collision Course: Paradox II

This has to be the year of the concept album because the latest offering from Royal Hunt is the 4th concept album in the Top 5! Let’s not even get into the conceptual aspect, the music alone is melodic Power/Progressive Metal with solid musicianship and  great vocal performance from new singer Mark Boals. The last few Royal Hunt albums have been disappointing but COLLISION COURSE proves that the band is still a force. I was surprised at how melodic this album really is because some of the band’s previous efforts were held down by too much keyboard noodling, I think adding Mark Boals to the band adds a fresh influence and creativity.

#6

cover_globaldramaCloudscape – Global Drama

Like the entire Top 5, GLOBAL DRAMA has remained part of my weekly playlist since it’s release. I’ve had the album since late July and I just keep playing it…..that’s the sign of a good record! Cloudscape is a Progressive Metal band but they are very melodic (like Royal Hunt) while retaining their heaviness. The first couple of spins made me think of Kamelot, Balance Of Power and Symphony X…..that’s a good group to be in. Cloudscape was on my list to check out and now they are one of the best newer bands I’ve heard in a long time, I’m currently on the hunt for the band’s previous albums.

#7

msg-in-the-midst-of-beauty-2008Michael Schenker Group – In The Midst Of Beauty

When guitar legend Michael Schenker puts his head down and stays focused, he makes truly great records. There is no denying his talent on guitar but his career has been plagued with different challenges and the subsequent results aren’t always the best musically. IN THE MIDST OF BEAUTY is an almost full reunion of the original MSG: Gary Barden is back on the mic, Don Airey on keys, Simon Phillips on drums and Neil Murray handling bass instead of Mo Foster. That’s as solid a lineup as you’re going to get and I think the strong supporting cast influenced Michael because he created some of the best music of his career, it’s as if you can hear Michael’s happiness in his playing. The album is melodic and heavy with a ton of riffs for the guitar enthusiast but the music is enhanced by that cool Hammond organ Airey commands giving the album a late ’70s/early ’80s sound, almost like classic UFO. If Whitesnake was my comeback of the year then Michael Schenker is a close second.

#8

Journey Revelation (2008) Journey – Revelation

If there ever was a band that described AOR/Melodic Rock then Journey is that band. The last couple of years have been trying for the band with all the rotation at the lead singer slot (Steve Augeri, Jeff Scott Soto) but the band grabbed a virtual unknown, Filipino singer Arnel Pineda, and made an album that is pure classic Journey. Melodic Rock at it’s finest, Journey’s new songs are full of harmonies, good melodies, soaring vocals and really good guitar. Let me add they are also well written and produced too. The band new that another new lead singer would be a gamble but Pineda puts on a great performance that is on par with Steve Perry’s legacy. There was also great value here with a second disc of re-recorded greatest hits and a bonus live DVD…..you can’t beat that for $15! All year long I have been saying that if the music industry wasn’t so screwed up then Journey would have a multi-platinum hit album with REVELATION.

#9

Def Leppard - Songs From The Sparkle Lounge (2008)Def Leppard – Songs From the Sparkle Lounge

I know it’s not fashionable to like Def Leppard because they have “sold out” and downplayed their NWOBHM and Hard Rock roots over the years but they do make very good records. SPARKLE LOUNGE is one of those albums that just has that mix of catchy ’80s Hard Rock and current modern Rock that mainstream radio lives for. The music is full of hooks and melody and the songs are all well done except for one repetitive dud (‘C’mon C’mon’). The Leps know how to make a catchy record and this one had me hooked in and singing along. I like the trademark big sound combined with the ’70s influences and modern updates. Def Leppard takes a lot of criticism but they make good music.

#10

moonspell-night-eternal-2008Moonspell – Night Eternal

I wasn’t expecting much from a new Moonspell album but I was completely surprised by NIGHT ETERNAL and it’s variety of sound. Moonspell plays a blend of Black, Death, Gothic and Power Metals all rolled into one with grand orchestration and both clean and harsh vocals. Get all that? The album is dark and heavy but it’s also very melodic and there are some beautiful orchestrations that enhance the overall sound. As I started re-listening to my 2008 CDs to make this Top 30, NIGHT ETERNAL kept creeping closer and closer to the Top 10. I had the promo for a long time but I ended up buying a proper copy at the local shop for around $13 and the value was really good: a bonus track ‘Age Of Mothers’ and a two alternate versions of ‘Scorpion Flower’ along with a bonus DVD of live Wacken 2007 performances. This kind of music isn’t my usual first choice but I expanded my horizons this year and I rediscovered Moonspell.

#11

benedictum-seasons-of-tragedyBenedictum – Seasons Of Tragedy

I’ve had SEASONS OF TRAGEDY since it’s U.S. release in March and it is one of the best Traditional Metal albums of the year. A lot of Metal fans might be thrown off by having a female frontwoman but I can tell you that Veronica Freeman kicks a whole lot of ass on the mic! Her vocals are extremely powerful to go along with the fast pummelling music that’s behind her. This is Benedictum’s second album and they steer clear of the sophomore jinx with an album heavy on Power Metal and Thrash that I can only describe as an aural assault. One of the best new U.S. Metal bands out there.

#12

Alice Cooper - Along Came A Spider (2008)Alice Cooper – Along Came A Spider

Another concept album making the Top 30? Of course! Especially if it’s an Alice Cooper album! I’m a huge Alice Cooper fan, always have been, and this is one of the best albums he’s released in the last few years. ALONG CAME A SPIDER has a perfect character for Alice to play (a serial killer named Spider) and he adds his own blend of shock, horror and humor to the performance. The one thing that Alice has done successfully with his last few albums is to revisit some of the classic ’70s sounds that made him the king of Shock Rock and he incorporates this sound with enough modern tendencies to make it sound fresh. the concept might not be all that original but Alice plays it perfectly and the songs are all very good with top production.

#13

uriah-heep-wake-the-sleeper-2008Uriah Heep – Wake The Sleeper

I’ll bet a lot of you are scratching your heads. If you don’t know who Uriah Heep is then you are missing out, the band has been around for close to 40 years and their sound is similar to Deep Purple but with a bit more Progressive Rock. WAKE THE SLEEPER is the first Heep album in a decade and I wasn’t really expecting much but these elder statesman have roared back with a heavy melodic album. Mick Box still plays a mean guitar and Phil Lanzon adds his Hammond organ in to fill out the sound but the performance of the album goes to long time singer Bernie Shaw who puts in one of the best vocal performances of the year.

#14

shannon-angel-in-disguiseShannon – Angel In Disguise

ANGEL IN DISGUISE turned out to be one of the surprises of 2008. I had the album in my growing pile for a couple of months before I got to it and I wasted all that listening time because the record is top flight melodic Metal. Usually, there are a couple of duds in the tracklisting but each song is well done and has plenty of melodic hooks and Euro-Metal power to satisfy a wide range of Metal fans. It’s always a great year when you discover new bands, Shannon will be a band I watch closely in 2009.

#15

testament-the-formation-of-damnation-2008Testament – The Formation Of Damnation

2008 was the year of the concept album and the year of the comeback and Testament came back in a big way with this pounding Thrash assault. This is the album that we all wish Metallica had in them, it’s an in your face old school Thrash attack by a band that I consider one of the best in the genre but sometimes overlooked. This album is one heavy record that easily blows away a lot of modern Thrash out in the last couple of years.

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Please check out the Top 30 Albums of 2008 (#16-#30) for the other half of my Top 30 list.

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In case my list wasn’t enough, or you simply don’t agree, some other great Music blogs have listed their Top Albums of 2008:

All Metal Resource
Bring Back Glam
Hair Metal Mansion

Hard Rock Hideout
Heavy Metal Time Machine

Imagine Echoes
Layla’s Classic Rock
Metal Excess

The Metal Minute
The Ripple Effect
Rock And Roll and Meandering Nonsense

Rock Of Ages

Joe Elliot (Def Leppard) vs. Bret Michaels (Poison) – Battle of the Sweden Rocks Festival 2008 press conferences, video available

If you’ve been living under a rock, the Sweden Rock Festival 2008 took place this past June 4th through June 7th. The annual festival, in it’s 17th year, had an awesome lineup with many Hard Rock and Heavy Metal heavyweights. Two of the bigger name bands, Def Leppard and Poison, have stirred up a little controversy. Joe Elliott and Phil Collen had their press conference where Joe elaborated on the difference between ’70s British glam acts, Def Leppard and L.A. Glam bands Motley Crue & Poison. Basically, Joe stated that the L.A. bands cared more about their image than the music and didn’t compare to Def Leppard…..Phil kept quiet.

Of course, the next day at his presser, a reporter asked Bret Michaels to comment on Joe Elliot’s comments the previous day. Watch the video…..

‘Sweden Rocks Festival 2008 – Joe Elliot press conference & Bret Michaels answer’

Round 1 to Bret Michaels!

Man Raze – Surreal (2008)

Man Raze – Surreal (2008, VH-1 Classic Records)

  1. This Is
  2. Turn It Up
  3. Runnin’ Me Up
  4. Every Second Of Every Day
  5. Spinning Out
  6. Can’t Find My Own Way
  7. Skin Crawl
  8. Low
  9. Connected To You
  10. Halo
  11. It’s Entertainment
  12. Shadow Man

Band Lineup:
Phil Collen – Lead & Backing Vocals, all Guitars
Paul Cook – Drums & Backing Vocals
Simon Laffy – Bass, Programming & Backing Vocals

Produced by: Man Raze & Ger McDonnell

Total Time = 39:45

Man Raze official website
Man Raze MySpace page
Def Leppard official website
VH-1 Classic

Man Raze is the brainchild of Def Leppard guitarist Phil Collen. The band consists of long time friend and Girl bandmate Simon Laffy and Sex Pistols’ drummer Paul Cook. The band started in mid-2004 as a side project for songs Collen had been writing that didn’t quite fit into his day job with Def Leppard. With the collaboration between the three musicians, the band released a maxi-single E.P. of four rough songs in 2006 and played a few gigs. The response was extremely encouraging and the band commenced work on a full-length album, SURREAL.

The first thing I thought of when I heard about this project was how similar the music would sound to Def Leppard’s. Phil Collen is a major part of the Def Leppard sound from the writing to the guitar to the vocals (it’s Collen’s vocal style that compliments/backs up Joe Elliot’s lead vocals on every Lep record since PYROMANIA). I also figured that the drumming would have a specifically raw Punk style with Paul Cook on the kit so the idea of Def Leppard meets the Sex Pistols seemed like two polar opposites meeting to create a wall of noise. After the first few spins, I hear a variety of styles from Hard Rock and Punk to Reggae and New Wave with a touch of Glam. That’s a lot of styles to blend and reminds me of another trio…..The Police. The production is raw, almost live sounding, more like an underground garage band with a raw “in your face” rhythm section.

Opening track ‘This Is’ is a Hard Rock/Punk hybrid that’s high energy while ‘Turn It Up’ could easily be a Def Leppard song if it was polished up, it sounds like a Def Lep demo. The Police comparisons come with ‘Runnin’ Me Up’ with it’s Reggae beat and Collen’s guitar having that Andy Summers twang to it. I like The Police so this song appeals to me unlike the Punk vibe on the first two songs, the problem is there really isn’t much to the song lyrically so it becomes repetitive. ‘Every Second Of Every Day’ is a pretty good mid-tempo song with a cool hook to the chorus. It sounds like Def Leppard and could have easily fit on X or SONGS FROM THE SPARKLE LOUNGE especially in the vocal and guitar lines. Same goes for ‘Spinning Out’, it sounds like a Def Lep throwaway from the last couple of albums but what makes it interesting is Phil Collen’s vocal impersonation of Billy Gibbons (ZZ Top). The Police/Sting reggae vibe returns with ‘Can’t Find My Own Way’ but it is better lyrically than it’s counterpart ‘Runnin’ Me Up’ and it also has a few cool guitar flourishes.

The first proper single from SURREAL is ‘Skin Crawl’ and it sounds, well, like raw Def Leppard from the last few albums. I hate to keep comparing Man Raze to Def Leppard but with Phil Collen being such a major contributor to both bands it’s hard not to hear the similarities. Of all the songs so far, ‘Skin Crawl’ has the best blend of Hard Rock, Punk, and the raw sounding production and it sounds more like some of the modern garage bands. ‘Low’ follows the same path although it’s not as heavy as ‘Skin Crawl’ at least until the chorus. It’s another raw track that sounds like a Def Lep demo. When I say “demo”, I mean that in a good way because the production is a complete contrast to what Phil Collen is normally involved with. Def Leppard is polished and slick while Man Raze is raw and rough. When I call a Man Raze song a “Def Lep demo”, it’s not because the song ideas aren’t developed, it’s because the production is as basic as a demo and the songs sounds like the Leps.

‘Connected To You’ has a fast Punk/Police vibe going for it while the guitar parts in ‘Halo’ sound very close at times to Def Leppard’s new single ‘Nine Lives’, it’s definitely almost the same tone. ‘It’s Entertainment’ has a catchy chorus and some interesting guitar and is probably one of the more polished songs on the album. I like Collen’s use of a little extra accent in his vocal and it comes off very similar to Joe Elliot. Actually, throughout SURREAL, you really get an idea of Collen’s vocal contibutions to his man band’s sound because he sounds almost exactly like Joe Elliot at times, especially the current lower registered Elliot. It’s obvious that his background vocals are a huge part of the Def Lep sound. ‘Shadow Man’ is another one of those songs that sounds like a Def Leppard song, especially in the vocal and guitar lines.

Bottom Line:
I’ve been spinning SURREAL for a couple of weeks and I’ve found this album to be somewhat of a “grower”. At first, I wasn’t digging it, probably due to the fact that I wasn’t really expecting much from this side project. The different styles and raw production made the album seem fragmented especially when compared to Phil Collen’s main band Def Leppard. It’s hard to not compare Man Raze to Def Leppard because many of the songs sound like raw, unpolished Lep tunes. That’s due to Collen’s vocals and guitar tone but there is enough different styles included to make things interesting, especially the Reggae tracks that sound like early Police. Reggae is not my thing but it’s definitely something unexpected and fresh. I thought ‘Skin Crawl’ was the best song on the album and I enjoyed hearing the songs that sounded like Def Lep ideas. I’m a Def Leppard fan, it’s hard to separate it all. Definitely a grower of an album with enough different music to make it interesting.

Favorite songs: ‘Skin Crawl’, ‘Every Second Of Every Day’, ‘Spinning Out’, ‘Low’

Def Leppard – Songs From The Sparkle Lounge (2008)

Def Leppard – Songs From The Sparkle Lounge (2008, Island)

  1. Go
  2. Nine Lives
  3. C’mon, C’mon
  4. Love
  5. Tomorrow
  6. Cruise Control
  7. Hallucinate
  8. Only The Good Die Young
  9. Bad Actress
  10. Come Undone
  11. Gotta Let It Go

Band Lineup:
Joe Elliot – Lead Vocals
Rick Savage – Bass, Backing Vocals, & additional guitars
Phil Collen – Guitars & Backing Vocals
Vivian Campbell – Guitars & Backing Vocals
Rick Allen – Drums & Backing Vocals

Special Guest:
Tim McGraw – Vocals on ‘Nine Lives’

Produced by: Def Leppard & Roann McHugh

Total Time = 39:23

Def Leppard official website
Def Leppard MySpace page

So Def Leppard is back with a brand new studio album fresh off their surprisingly successful covers record YEAH!. It’s been a long time since the boys from Sheffield did a proper studio record, the last one was 2002’s X. X was an top flight album that mixed the best of the ’80s with the Leps more modern Pop tendencies. So what would a new record six years later bring? You can never be sure because the band downplays their Hard Rock roots all the time and they have recently become overly enamored with their influences from the late ’60s/early ’70s.

Opening the album is ‘Go’, a song that has a guitar intro with a very familiar tone. Listen to ‘Women’ off HYSTERIA (1987), that guitar intro has the same tone as the one starting ‘Go’. The intro is one of the main underlying riffs through the entire song. It’s a good enough song to open, sort of a mid-paced moody track. Lead single ‘Nine Lives’, with special guest Tim McGraw on co-lead vocals, is a decent pop rocker…..if fans want the old school Def Leppard then this song is as close as they’ll get. There’s a good hook to the chorus, big vocals, solos…..everything that you can imagine. Listen for the quick recycled guitar part from ‘Armageddon It’ off HYSTERIA.

‘C’mon C’mon’ is very boring even though it’s uptempo. I’ll be honest, I hate the song! The lyrics are too easy and too rhymey and the chorus is just “C’mon, C’mon” repeated over and over. The song sounds like a ’70s Gary Glitter leftover! All is made up for with ‘Love’, a very pretty acoustic based ballad that comes right out of the Freddie Mercury/Queen playbook. Just like the Scorpions, Def Leppard does great ballads, and ‘Love’ shines with excellent vocals and lush backings. The orchestrated backing vocals are trademark Queen and I’d like to know if that is actually Brian May on the guitar solo because, if it isn’t, Viv Campbell or Phil Collen do a superb mimic. ‘Tomorrow’ has a very groovy bass line that really moves the song while the band channels a combination of sounds from their last album, X, and 1999’s EUPHORIA for this mid-paced song.

‘Cruise Control’ is another mid-paced affair that is, well, on cruise control. Aside from some cool solos, I’m not really digging it. ‘Hallucinate’ bounces back by rocking harder with the trademark backing vocals and duelling guitars, nice to finally hear Viv Campbell let loose a little! Usually Phil Collen takes all the leads but the song calls for the guitarists to trade off. ‘Hallucinate’ has that ’80s feel to it but it would be better fit on EUPHORIA or X because Joe’s voice isn’t as high pitched as it once was. Def Leppard has a solid niche carved in the mid-paced songs with big choruses and ‘Only The Good Die Young’ (the 2nd of three Viv Campbell compositions) fills the void. Again, the band does these type of songs well: solid guitars with nice fills and solos, Joe is in fine mid-register voice, and the gang backing traxks flesh it out. High on melody and hooks.

The pace picks up again with the fast rocker ‘Bad Actress’. The Leps always say that they would rather be considered a Pop Rock band than a Hard Rock band but, when they want to cut loose they do it well. The solos here are some of the fastest I’ve heard the boys play in almost 10 years! Hitting the mid-pace hard again, ‘Come Undone’ follows the Lep formula to a tee. The guitars sound heavy and the backing vocals help Joe Elliot out quite a bit. There’s a hook in there that has me liking the song but we’ve already heard it before becasue the album is chock full of this kind of song. Still, the song has that special Lep quality that draws you in. Same with ‘Gotta Let It Go’, there’s a certain Lep-ness to it that draws you in and you enjoy the song. I like the little falsetto action Mr. Elliot drops in just before the chorus and the guitars really drive the song home.

Bottom Line:
Def Leppard stopped being a Hard Rock band after PYROMANIA. If you can deal with that, then you will like this record. The guys have always said everything they could to keep Def Leppard from being cornered into that genre and they back up their talk by updating their sound. If you take the last three Def Lep albums (EUPHORIA, X, and YEAH!) and combine them, that’s the sound you get on SONGS FROM THE SPARKLE LOUNGE. You get the big ’80s (EUPHORIA), the ’70’s influences (YEAH!), and the modern touches (X). Each song has melodies, hooks, solid guitar, great solos, big backing vocals, and competent lead vocals. It’s obvious Joe Elliot has lost some of that high register with age but he can still sing and does so very well on every song…..I’d prefer to hear him do ‘Nine Lives’ on his own. Aside from the one repetitive mess of a song in ‘C’mon C’mon’, I liked every song on the album. When my year end picks come out in December, don’t be surprised if this is record is up there, I really enjoy it!

Favorite songs: ‘Nine Lives’, ‘Love’, ‘Hallucinate’, ‘Only The Good Die Young’, ‘Bad Actress’

 

Press Release: Def Leppard – Songs From The Sparkle Lounge artwork and release dates revealed!

Def Leppard - Songs From The Sparkle Lounge (2008)

From Bravewords.com:

DEF LEPPARD have issued the following update:

“After previously presenting two ‘teaser’ covers (one with just the band logo and album title font, and one with a closed theatre curtain), we can now finally reveal what is behind the curtain and show you the final artwork for Def Leppard’s new album Songs From The Sparkle Lounge. As you can see, the band went for a cover in the style of THE BEATLES’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, by using a collage of photos of various people who have a connection with the band in one way or another. Apart from a number of pictures of the band members themselves (throughout the years), you’ll find their parents, crew members, friends, and some artwork characters from the past.”

Def Leppard’s 14th studio album, Songs From The Sparkle Lounge, is set for release on April 29th in North America, the 30th in Japan and May 5th in the UK. The limited edition Japanese version will feature a bonus track, and a bonus DVD with behind-the-scenes interviews and music videos. The CD will be a limited edition featuring the new deluxe SHM-CD (Super High Material CD) format which is completely compatible with standard CD players.

The finalized tracklisting for the album is as follows: ‘Nine Lives’, ‘C’mon C’mon’, ‘Go’, ‘Love’, ‘Cruise Control’, ‘Bad Actress’, ‘Hallucinate’, ‘Tomorrow’, ‘Come Undone’, ‘Only The Good Die Young’ and ‘Gotta Let It Go’.

Recorded last year during month-long stints at lead singer Joe Elliott’s Dublin studio, the album’s title refers to a backstage area called “The Sparkle Lounge” on Def Leppard’s 2006 tour where the band would go to write songs. Tracks from the album have been described by the group as written in the style of ‘Hysteria’, with the production of High N’ Dry.

“The whole record’s got a great ’70s feel,” said lead singer Joe Elliott. “By our standards, it’s a very different album as we’ve been very adventurous, musically, on certain numbers. On the album there are classic Def Leppard songs and then there’s also tracks that are very new-wave influenced while others sound like middle-to-late ’70s AC/DC. There will definitely be some moments on it where anybody that’s familiar with our music will go, ‘Whoa! I wasn’t expecting that!'”

Def Leppard – Songs From The Sparkle Lounge release date announced

From Def Leppard.com:

Songs From The Sparkle Lounge release date and U.K. competiton

Def Leppard - Songs From The Sparkle Lounge (temporary artwork)

With March 27 being the start date of the band’s World Tour to support their upcoming album SONGS FROM THE SPARKLE LOUNGE, many of you have been wondering if the album will actually be released before the kickoff show. We can hereby tell you that as of today, the album is scheduled for release on MARCH 17 in the UK and MARCH 18 in the rest of the world. That’s right — in about two months the band’s new album might be in the shops! Please note this is a TENTATIVE date and therefore may change.

Furthermore, the first single off the album will be called “NINE LIVES” and will feature a guest appearance by country star TIM MCGRAW.

As a special promotion around the album release, Amazon is offering UK fans the chance to win a very special prize! One lucky winner (and friend) will get a trip to Miami to see Def Leppard’s second show on the tour, at the Hard Rock Cafe in Miami on March 29 (two hotel nights included). All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning, is enter some of your details on Amazon.co.uk and you’ll be entered into the prize draw.

Pre-orders for SONGS FROM THE SPARKLE LOUNGE are now also accepted at Amazon.co.uk.