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Before me sits one of the greatest challenges both as a writer and as a fan. On one hand I love Doro Pesch and have voraciously followed her career since 1985. She has been a constant love affair of mine for many years, and while not everything Doro has done has impressed me I've admired her courage to try new avenues.
That said it pains me to review her latest EP titled Raise Your Fist in the Air and tell you how ineffectual, bland, and even insulting it is to me.
What I've noticed in recent years is that Doro has found a comfort zone of sorts; she has taken the mantel of anthem rock ala Manowar or AC/DC and seemingly limited herself by offering songs clearly designed to stir the masses only momentarily. The title track is going to look great with a German stadium filled with fans pumping fists in the air with discernible fury as a leather-clad Doro prowls the stage and commands her minions perfectly. She sounds as great as ever, so that's not the issue I take umbrage with here. What bothers me is that Ms. Pesch is stuck in a rut that is as predictable as a Western sunset. She offers a collective of a few strong songs destined to be flag-waving classics and intersperses the obligatory ballad sung in her native German language (“Engel”) that sounds eerily like her 1995 single “In Freiheit Stirbt Mein Herz” in some of the arrangement. While I'm always up to hear Ms. Pesch satiate and soothe the savage breast, I'm worried this current trek is stalling her creatively and offering little in the way of her legendary status.
The EP has moments of fluidity and charm, sure, but the typicality and ho-hum factors are difficult...okay, impossible..to ignore. I understand she has a sound built around this type of music (I've been supporting her for the better part of four-decades), but it appears to this dedicated fan that she has lost some of the spark that drove her music up to the mid-90's. Every song on this EP speaks to a specific demographic now, and while her successes are wonderful and long overdue, I hope she can step away from these Manowar-like themes of the aforementioned flag-waving, chest thumping songs that really remind me of Bruce Springsteen and that horrible Born in the USA crap that pretty much left him a one-sentence rock anthem architect. It seems the days of the poetic lyrical progressions are over. “Victory” is a song that can easily be written in five minutes with the right amount of quiet. What happened to the epic values of “Earthshaker Rock”, “I Rule the Ruins” or even “Brutal and Effective” off her criminally underrated Love Me in Black album?
Even as I'm listening for the second time the lyrics are about as rudimentary and faceless as they can get; calls to raise your hands in the air, rock out 'til you die, taking a stand for metal - all of this is well and good, but it's all been done by bands that aren't even close to Ms. Pesch's caliber in my opinion. She doesn't need greased up bodies in ridiculous loincloths, or the same basic album greedily swallowed whole by rabid, ridiculously loyal fans that can't get past the layman's shtick for more tangible qualities, but I digress. I don't like seeing every song from Doro being another boring attempt to call the masses to arms to fight the war for metal. That was left on the congressional hearing table during the fabled PMRC's lame attempt to kill the musical freedoms we somewhat enjoy today. It seems fantasy ala Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, Warlock, and Iron Maiden has been cast aside for the momentary fueling of emotional responses by a usually drunk or amped-up Wacken crowd. Geez, think of “Hole in the Sky” and try, just try to not have incredible visuals dancing in your head! I miss the old days of using one's imagination to create mental movies or visages to accompany the music in our heads. Have we become so lethargic and unimportant that we accept brief forays into plastic chest-pounding over deep, introspective efforts to enlighten and titillate within our music? What the hell has happened here?
To summarize, I expect much more out of Doro, but I'm thinking this might be what we're getting from here on out, and to the catatonic masses that's acceptable I guess. I'll dream of a world long gone that once took enough stock in its audience to treat them intellectually as well as musically.
As the poet Bob Dylan once remarked, The times they are a'changing. I'm sure he saw this coming even then.
(Originally written for www.metalpsalter.com)