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23 years is a long time to be out on the road living the heavy metal high life, and Doro has come through it all looking almost as good as when she first began burning the witches in 1984 with Warlock. Like all good things, Warlock came to an end and what followed was a long difficult period of trying to bring the heavy metal sound to a generation of kids who wanted flannels, body odor, and unshaven faced lawnmower men. What impresses me more than anything is despite all the hits and misfires that happened between 1989 and now, she never relented, and kept putting out material.
I was fortunate enough to catch Doro live about 6 or 7 months back in Allentown Pennsylvania, home of bassist Nick Douglas, not much more than a 15 minute drive from my house. I remember the human side of this amazing woman being on full display as she thanked her small but faithful audience again and again, singing 5 encore songs and wishing she had the time to give us more. I remember how deeply she blushed when Joe, a mutual friend of mine and Nick’s brought out a surprise cake (the gig was on Doro’s birthday) and the entire audience sang happy birthday. There may have only been 50 or 60 people in the Croc Rock that night, a small trifle compared to the sold out arenas she plays in Germany, but it showcased what this music has always meant to me: giving it your all, whether it’s to 50 people or 5,000.
“Warrior Soul” embodies the essence of what Warlock was about until it came to an end; good old fashioned Judas Priest inspired heavy metal without all the groove gimmicks, goofily grunted Fred Durst garbage, or overly distorted noise. The songs are simple in their presentation, putting forth basic riffs meant to stick in the head, rather than impress with overbearing intrigue. Lead work is tasteful and often short, as has always been the case since the first Warlock album. The production is modernistic, complete with low reverb drums, but relies on keyboards for atmosphere to balance out the drier approach to the traditional instrumentation.
If there was a previous album that I could compare this one to, the closest would be Warlock’s “Triumph and Agony”, but even in that case there is a good amount of difference to keep it well out of the realm of self-plagiarism. “You’re my family” and “Strangers Yesterday” are the obligatory crowd sing along anthems, with memorable choruses and a solid yet simple musical arrangement. “Haunted Heart” is the strongest up tempo song on here, but has a nice drawn out, Manowar-like slow section to change things up a bit. The title track and “Heaven I see” are loaded with atmosphere, almost ballad-like, but definitely far from easy listening. In fact, with the exception of “Creep into my brain” (which is too modern rock sounding for my taste), everything on here is excellent.
One thing is for certain, this amazing career that Doro has had is not over yet, not by the ground that this album regained for the traditional 80s resurgence that’s been going on recently. If you liked what you heard with Warlock and with Doro’s first solo album “Force Majeure”, this is cut from the same grain and will also agree with your ears. I heard half of these songs live 3 weeks before I bought the album, and I can testify that they sound even better live and that although I may have to drive further next time, I do plan to catch her again the next time she hits the States.