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Under Riffs and Lead. - 97%

hells_unicorn, October 18th, 2006

Dokken is a band whose metal status has been highly criticized in many quarters due to the tendency towards fluffy lyrics and the heavily glam-like image of the band, particularly frontman Don Dokken. All one need do is take one glance at the album cover of this album to assume that this band is an earlier incarnation of more blues driven bands such as Poison and Cinderella. However, on that cover there is also a goofy looking guy in red who gives Dokken it’s metal edge, riff maestro and shredder George Lynch.

Once one gets past the image of this band, what we have here is a polished outfit with some highly memorable anthems, hard edged rockers, and high speed thrill rides. This album is actually my personal favorite due to the continuity between each song, the heavy emphasis on the guitar, and slightly less of the fluffy lyrics that has haunted Dokken’s last 2 releases. Even songs such as “It’s not love” and “Slipping Away”, which do have some heavily relationship driven lyrics, have a strong guitar element that was somewhat lacking on the more fluffy songs on previous efforts.

The highlights of this album fall into 2 categories, the first one being the anthem-like mid-tempo rockers that are driven by more melodic leads and powerful choruses. “In my Dreams” has an powerful acapella harmony at the beginning which is brought back in the many recaps of the chorus, not to mention a powerful set of riffs and a highly melodic and expressive solo. “Don’t lie to Me” features a similar harmonic device in the lead guitar, in addition to a similar to set of catchy and hard hitting rhythmic guitar lines. “Unchain the Night” is somewhat comparable to the opening 2 tracks of Tooth and Nail, although the song is considerably slower than track 2 to that album, and the two tracks are essentially built together into one cohesive song. A great set of varied guitar riffs interplay throughout, in addition to some nice banshee screams at key points by Don Dokken.

The second category of highlights are the up tempo cookers, which consist of the fifth and the final track on this release. “Till the Living End” has a main riff somewhat similar to the closing track of the previous release, but the drive of the song is similar to the power metal drive of the title track off that same album. However, the highlight of the whole album, is the riff driven thrill ride “Lightning Strikes Again”. The intro guitar part reminds me a bit of an Iron Savior track, and the interplay between the lead guitar tracks (though all done by Lynch), is reminiscent of Judas Priest. This song also highlights one of the greatest vocal jobs every pulled off by Don Dokken in his entire career, loaded with dirty and sleaze driven screams and a great chorus.

The rest of the tracks on here are solid slower rockers. Of these, “The Hunter” and “Jaded Heart” are my favorite picks. “The Hunter” has a highly catchy main guitar riff, while “Jaded Heart” has a nice quiet intro followed by a louder and dramatic chorus, in addition to the obligatory shred fests that George Lynch can easily fit into even the most down tempo of tracks without sounding like he’s overdoing it.

In conclusion, this is the highlight of Dokken’s career as a band. Although there are plenty of classic songs by them that appear on various other releases (including their most classic track ever “Dream Warriors”), this is the most solid of their musical structures. I recommend it highly to fans of guitar driven metal, and can even recommend it to some of my fellow Power Metal fanatics, although they may want to skip some of the ballads.