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The story behind this record is quite strange. In 1982, Don Dokken traveled to Germany to record some backing vocals on The Scorpions' "Blackout". While there, he made some contact with the people from Accept, a relation which lasted until the recording of Don Dokken's solo album reviewed below. This helped him to secure a deal with Carrere Records, the label that released "Breaking the Chains" in Europe, but it's not until Cliff Burnstein and Q Prime Inc. (also Metallica's management company) start managing the band when Dokken releases his debut album in the States. More or less that's the reason why "Breaking the Chains" was recorded at Dierks Studios in Germany with their long time partner (as producer, mixer, or whatever) and sound wizard, Michael Wagener.
We all know that Dokken was one of the best and most successful "hair metal" bands of all the '80s (although this term does not do justice to them, so I would leave it in hard/heavy metal) and this album shows all the potential that they had in a maybe more innocent, but also very charming way. In fact, that places them much closer to most of the emerging heavy metal bands of the early '80s as the powerful and fast side that, however, they never totally lost in their career (maybe only in "Under Lock and Key"), and is more present than ever in songs such as "Nightrider" "Paris is Burning", and "Live to Rock (Rock to Live)". On the other side, songs such as "Breaking the Chains" or "I Can't See You" also show the immense potential of the band to create chart-breaking singles.
All these elements are evidence of Dokken's special ability to create a perfect blend of melodic hard rock without losing their heavy metal edge, something that always earned them the respect of many metal fans instead of being despised like many others from the "hair metal" scene. If you add to this formula George Lynch's fantastic and flashy guitar work, you get one of the best expressions of pure '80s hard/metal to be found out there. A great album to start a great career, so check it out!
Originally written for Ample Destruction 'zine.
Dokken's debut in 1983 is sounds a bit young and ideas just not fully developed properly. While rough around the edges, some of the songs on here are accessible and very good and provide a short glimpse of what George Lynch can do with a guitar. This debut is far from great, but they would only continue to get better from here.
Most of the tracks on here are short, simple three minute mostly mid to up-tempo rockers. There is not much variety found on here and it can grow quite dull. The sound is pretty raw and definitly sounds like something from the 80's. The only aspect that is off is the vocals sound louder than any of the instruments.
The album opens up with the title track "Breaking the Chains" featuring a snobbish guitar riff from Lynch, but it is a simple song and not really all that good. Unfortunately, a good portion of this album just has too much simplicity. A guitar riff starts, then the vocals pop in, the chorus comes and goes, another verse starts followed by the chorus, a solo comes in, and then the final chorus. Stating the obvious, it grows boring after awhile.
Not everything is bad though. "Nightrider" has a great opening guitar riff and George Lynch shines on this track with quick bursts of notes and is one of the highlights of this record. Another is "Seven Thunders" which sounds like a power metal song with a dramatic chorus and an ominous tone and feel in the song which is surprising considering it is Dokken and all. The final track "Paris is Burning" is awesome with some lighting fast guitar work and instrumentation from Lynch and the pounding drums make this one a classic.
While the musical aspect of this record is varied, the vocals from Don Dokken are just about average. The man just sounds young and his voice is too high in some places. While he does a good job during the verses, the choruses are not very good. Hearing him screech out "Nightrider" and "Young girls" is downright uncomforting to hear and not enjoyable.
Most of this album sounds like something RATT could have written. That's a bit ironic since Juan Croucier, who plays bass on this album, joined RATT after this album came out. I like RATT and all, but Dokken is better with more musicianship and less simplicity in their songs. This isn't a bad debut, as it has its moments, but it could have been much better.
Dokken were one of the more underrated bands to come out of the hair metal scene. They were certainly more heavy than half of the bands, and just like Twisted Sister and early Motley Crue, they had riffs that would totally kill. That, and George Lynch has to be one of the greatest guiatrists ever. His solos are simply amazing to say the least. It's just too bad that this band never gets the credit that they deserve.
This leads to their debut album, Breaking The Chains. It's a rather interesting album. It's one of the first albums to come out when glam started to become mainstream, and compared to most of the bands at the time, especially Def Leppard, they were certainly fucking heavy as shit. This album is a good start for the band, but it doesn't compare to the stuff they would do on their later albums. The main reason being that Don Dokken's voice isn't as interesting sounding as it later be. Just like Ratt's singer, Don just sounds like he's just there, and nothing more. That, and the production isn't that great either, but it's decent for a 1983 album.
However, there still are some killer songs on here. My favorite songs on here would have to be Breaking The Chains, Seven Thunders, Nightriders, and Paris Is Burning. The formal two have some nice riffs, and are pretty catchy, and nice to sing along to. Then, the latter two tottaly kick your ass with some killer speed metal riffs. The drumming is pretty sweet too. They show that even though their a glam band, they still have balls, and they're not afraid to use them. Live To Rock is also a pretty nice spped metal song that has sort of a Judas Priest sound to it. However, there are two weak tracks on here. In The Middle is pretty lame, and Felony is decent, but lags a little, because of the production. Eh, at least it's catchy.
On thier debut, Dokken show that they can rock hard while making some nice catchy tunes. It's not as good as Tooth & Nail or Under Lock and Key, but it's still solid. Get this album, but get the two above mentioned albums first.
This is Dokken’s first major release and probably one of the most heavily criticized as being sub-par in terms of it’s entirety. In comparison to their subsequent releases, there is some truth to this as some of the songs here are forgettable, but I disagree with the assertion made by Power Metal Guardian that there are only 2 great Dokken songs on here.
As a whole, the production on this album is quite rough, though not bad considering that it was done in 1983. The lead guitar tracks are loud enough not to be buried by the drums, which are a tiny bit overpowering at times. Don Dokken’s vocals are controlled fairly well, as is the bass, although the rhythm guitar tracks do sometimes get buried.
The two strongest tracks on here obviously bear the most resemblance to the hit of late releases. “Paris is Burning”, which is recorded live in Berlin, kicks off with an amazing guitar solo that rivals Van Halen’s Eruption. The song itself has the speed of “Tooth and Nail”, but the melodic quality has the idiomatic character of “Under Lock and Key”. “Breaking the Chains” is a classic mid-tempo anthem loaded with memorable riffs, and compared the most with other classics such as “In my Dreams” and “Into the Fire”.
We have a good number of up-tempo tracks on here that almost sound like they could be speed metal. “Live to Rock” and “Nightrider” feature some impressive double bass work by Mick Brown, and some insane leads by shred doctor George Lynch. The latter also has a great main riff that actually compares a bit with Queensryche, who ironically had a song by the same title on their EP debut. “Seven Thunders” is a bit slower in tempo, but the guitar riffs cook so well that it might as well be another fast one.
We have a strong collection of slower songs on here also that deserve mention. “Young Girls” is a bit similar to “It’s not love”, a good set of solid power chord guitar parts, although the lyrics are a bit fluffy. “Stick to your guns” is a bit like a Twisted Sister anthem of angst, although the guitar work on here is a hell of a lot more impressive on here, though Don Dokken’s voice is a bit too clean for this style of song. “Felony” is the song that eventually would create a whole monstrous mess of older men singing about going after under-aged women. Winger actually comes to mind, although Winger would not write any driving rockers like this.
Unfortunately we have 2 rather weak links on this album that I can’t really categorize as anything other than pure fluff. For those of you that already own “Tooth and Nail”, the song to compare these to is the rather silly titled “Heartless Heart”. “In the Middle” has a rather interesting main intro riff, but it suffers greatly due to fluffy lyrics and a lack of punch in the production. If this song were better produced and if Don Dokken’s voice had more gusto to it, this would be “The Hunter” off Under Lock and Key. “I Can’t See You” is a more happy sounding anthem, despite the lyrics being about a break-up. Unfortunately this doesn’t shack up to more powerful anthems such as “Prisoner” and “Just Got Lucky” due to a lack of strong leads to complement the instrumental sections.
In conclusion, this is definitely worth getting, as there are plenty of songs here worth your time besides the two that also appear on their 1999 Greatest Hits compilation. This band would slow it down at bit after this, but the production would get much stronger, and the songs would become more polished. This album is highly recommended to fans of traditional 80s metal fans, particularly fans of Motley Crue and others on the LA scene. If you own and like “Tooth and Nail” or “Under Lock and Key”, this album will not disappoint.
Breaking the Chains, the first Dokken full-length, became and instant hit and launched the band to super stardom. But why? This album isn't even that great, and this is why. Dokken is known by most people as a cock rock band. People who really know Dokken, know them for their extreme heavy, yet glam, edge. Insane solos and a formula to real out instant hits. But looking at this album I can only instantly pick out two solid Dokken hits: Breaking the Chains and Paris is Burning (strangely the first and last songs of the album).
This album has only two good songs. There are a couple of other good songs which I will point out, but the rest of the album is pretty much worthless, and probably not even considered glam rock!!! Opening with Breaking the Chains is an excellent choice; awesome guitar parts and wonderful solo. A classic Dokken song nonetheless. In the Melody and Felony, the next two songs, are two good songs. What makes these songs cool is the heaviness of the riffs. Something Dokken capitalizes in. Donny's voice on the first three songs show us the powerhouse of this amazing vocalist. Dokken can hit the high notes just as easy as the low ones. The next three songs are not bad, but not worth much. Meaning there are no memorable parts, and the riffs are pretty much mediocre. Also you might notice that the sound isn't as heavy as before. It's almost carries a pop sound; and that's scary when thinking this is Dokken.
It just gets worse after that, Seven Thunders is to soft. Young Girls is a decent song, but the riffs again are mediocre for Dokken's style. Stick to Your Guns takes this "pop" idea and twists it to hell. The worse Dokken song? Yeah probably! The song is groovy; I want to snap my finger to the beat instead of banging my head. But then I guess things get better with Paris is Burning. The intro solo shows Dokken's true form, and that of guitarist George Lynch. Pinch harmonics lace the intro, something Lynch is most noted for. When the song continues in normal fashion the drum beat lights up the song, making it a catchy, enjoyable song.
For the most part the music is mediocre and not up to Dokken par, but its not terrible, or the worse thing ever recorded. In essence, is this album good? No, not really considering it is a Dokken album. Is it worth getting? Yes! You could simply get Breaking the Chains and Paris is Burning on a best of album. But missing the first three songs (the last two aren't hits) together is like missing a big part of Dokken history. Not the best album to start off with, but definitely a future must for Dokken fans.