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Legend Secured - 92%

soul_schizm, February 9th, 2018
Written based on this version: 1987, CD, Elektra Records

The band that fought each other Tooth and Nail from inception to meltdown managed to produce one final work, and it turned out be their best.

Dokken had about 10 years on their contemporaries, reaching their peak in their 30's while others in their genre were in their 20's. Although considered a part of the LA hair band scene, they were more of a creation of their namesake than a group of youngsters banging it out from club to club on the Sunet Strip. Indeed, Don Dokken's project started out as his solo band but quickly dropped the "Don" from their name before the inaugural release. Their output arguably had more substance than most other bands crawling the LA club circuit, owing to guitar god George Lynch's mind-bending guitar stylings and unusual influences. Don Dokken's strangely weak yet effective vocals put a stamp of recognizable marketability on their better moments, producing 3 highly successful studio albums and another strong live effort to round out their early career catalog.

The band was also notorious for their inability to get along, marked by Dokken and Lynch's near hatred of each other which eventually resulted in a physical falling out before a gig at Wembley stadium (yes, that means they started beating the crap out of each other). One final outing on the 1988 Monsters of Rock tour was a catastrophe, and then it was over. Although reunions and retools have taken place, Dokken as we knew it is effectively a historical entity at this point.

Before they melted down though, one final stab took place in 1987, entitled Back for the Attack. It contained music written and recorded over a longer period of time than their previous efforts. Reportedly, the sessions were extended because Lynch was going for a different tone on his guitars and recording many takes on his solos. Also, Lynch and Dokken were sick of each other and many times unable to record together, leading to delays. Accounts of the day spoke of painful writes and re-writes and disjointed recording sessions sometimes taking place with bandmembers absent or working in different studios. But the result was remarkable nonetheless. Back for the Attack is a slab of what Hollywood was producing in the mid to late-1980s, but with a chunkier edge and a relatively raw aesthetic. It serves up alternate courses of meat and cheese, sometimes nearly metal and sometimes poppy but always memorable and certainly several levels above the bulk of the bands coming from that corner of the music universe.

Let's face it, if you liked Dokken you came to the table looking for Lynch to blow you out of the water with his distinctive licks and unusual rhythm guitar voicing. His work was instantly recognizable, setting him apart from anyone else in his era. Lynch's influences were unique among his contemporaries, most of whom were busy copying Van Halen, AC/DC, and Yngwie Malmsteen among a few others. Lynch, on the other hand, counts Jimmy Hendrix and Jeff Beck among his most prominent influences and he used those classic players' work to great effect, mixing with heavy distortion and fast fretwork along with his own touches. His playing is at once angry yet mysterious, heavy yet intricate, technical yet frenetic. There's a certain obsessive quality to Lynch's style. You can tell he's shutting out the world at times, alone in a room trying to eek out that last bit of tone and inflection, jamming to a track over and over again until he has 10 good takes and still isn't satisfied with any of them.

Back for the Attack is the ultimate expression of his approach. Unlike previous albums, Lynch pulls much of the reverb and effects back from the rhythm guitar track. The polish present on Under Lock and Key is gone and it puts the riffs right in your face. He also clearly changed his amplifier rig, giving himself a heavier yet tighter tone.

On the other hand, his solos are rich with sustain and effects, soaring with strange scales and creative harmonics to go with some rather nimble licks. Lynch uses a Sustaniac device to create screeching harmonics that sit within his solos, controlled yet over-the-top. Nowhere is this more evident than on "Mr. Scary," which is the greatest metal instrumental of the 1980's. Mr. Scary secures Lynch's status as a guitar god with its crunchy main rhythm and gypsy-like melody, punctuated by leads that sound like a screaming heat-seeking missile. It's a jaw-dropper to be sure, and Lynch's legion of geeked-out guitar playing followers point to it all the time when asked about their cult leader.

Don Dokken's voice stood out as well. As I said he always had weak vocal chords (witness him sing alongside other metal greats on the documentary of the making of "Stars" during the Hear n' Aid sessions). But he stays on point, never hits a sour note, and has a recognizable tone. You knew it was Dokken the moment the first verse started. It can be argued that the contention between he and Lynch gave his work just the right edge to make Dokken more than simple groupie-bait. He's never been shy about his disdain for Lynch, but also never doubted that the music was good when they joined forces. And it was.

Strong moments abound on Back for the Attack, from the aggressive riffing of "Kiss of Death" to the mid-paced AC/DC-esque "Standing in the Shadows" to the cock-rocky "Heaven Sent." This album was known for the movie soundtrack theme "Dream Warriors" but there was much more to be had for different cross-sections of Dokken's audience. There's something for everyone, from scantily-clad groupies to budding metal guitarists and everywhere in between. The sound was fresh and clear, somehow giving their rather formulaic songwriting the bite and aggression that was lacking on Under Lock and Key, even if the songwriting was arguably a tad weaker. Although the band's lyrics weren't particularly mature, they did begin to explore a few timely topics such as AIDS and the Cold War, albeit in a less-than-intellectual way.

There's not much more to be said here. Back for the Attack is fantastic for what it is. I'm actually surprised to see it classified as heavy metal anywhere, including the archives. Although, to be fair, in the 1980's you would have found Dokken in the "heavy metal" section of the record stores. To me it's more commercialized hard rock with some metal cladding. I'd put other bands like them in the same category, such as Ratt and Mötley Crüe. But since it's listed in the archives and I'm a fan, it deserves a call out for the great music contained within.

Dokken is Back For the Attack - 88%

MEGANICK89, December 3rd, 2008

After the dive into commercialism with "Under Lock and Key," Dokken came back with a more amped up record in "Back for the Attack." The sound is heavier than the previous one and features some killer guitar work from George Lynch and strong vocals from Don Dokken.

As always, the songs on here are guitar driven and the riffage kicks some major ass. "Kiss of Death" is one of the best metal songs ever made and any one who questions Geoge Lynch's playing will be shut up when hearing this song. The one thing that set apart Dokken from other bands at the time is that the members were all very capable musicians and could each hold their own. The instrumental "Mr. Scary" carries out this fact with Lynch showing his virtuosity and Jeff Pilson doing some impressive bass work. "The Prisoner" can be best characterized as a heavy, pop song. While that sounds impossible, the guitar work and drumming are heavy, but the vocals are more poppy especially with the cheesy chorus "I'm a prisoner chained by love," but it works.

There is also the absence of ballads except for "Heaven Sent," but this is actually a good ballad for a change. The song is very bluesy and is something to snap your fingers to. Not everything can be that good however. There are thirteen songs on this album and it would be pretty amazing if every song was awesome. "Stop Fighting Love" is boring and lifeless while "Burning Like a Flame" is just too poppy and vocals and lyrics ruin the song.

Don Dokken again sings a good game, but his voice just becomes a little too high sometimes. "Night by Night" is the prime example of this and plus the annoying background vocals are just awful as well. In the verses he sings well, but then the chorus comes in and at times his voice just gets too high and is not too pleasant. Ironically, he is probably the worst aspect of this album.

The band really kicked things up a notch with this release and went with a more kick-ass approach rather than a real commercial sound like the previous record was. There are many great songs to behold on here and just might be the best Dokken has done. This album puts the band over the top, but it is unfortunate that Don and Lynch could not handle each other anymore and would get back together for awhile, but they left something to delight the fans for awhile.

Back for More, It Seems - 42%

DawnoftheShred, February 21st, 2008

Dokken, despite featuring band members that are actually fairly talented, have always enjoyed no more than a second-string spot in the hierarchy of 80’s hair bands. Though not nearly as wishy-washy as Stryper or as wholeheartedly lame as Extreme, they’ve never been able to really excel. This, their fourth album, is a pretty good example of why that is.

With Back For The Attack, Don Dokken and company have produced an album that is far more metal than what they had previously done, but still fails to escape from under the umbrella of glam metal. Basically, Dokken are the same band they’ve always been, but making a bit more of an effort to better themselves. Don Dokken’s voice is vastly improved and many songs feature some of his best vocals. George Lynch steers towards a heavier direction with his riffage, while his soloing is even more frequent than before (didn’t say better though). The production is geared in a bass-heavy direction which highlights Jeff Pilson’s pounding bass much better as well as Mick Brown’s drumming, whose playing is just as mechanical as ever.

The band’s songwriting appears vastly improved as well. You won’t find quality hard rockers like “Kiss of Death,” “Dream Warriors,” or “Cry of the Gypsy” on their older material (or their later material for that matter). Lynch gets his chance to really shine on the instrumental “Mr. Scary,” that while stupidly titled, is fairly awesome. “Sleepless Nights” is cool too. But as on other albums, much of the content is filler. Who gives a shit about half-hearted tracks like “So Many Tears” or “Burning Like a Flame?” Nobody, that’s who. Not to mention how goddamn long this album is, an hour of Dokken really seems like an eternity

I’ll admit that there are certain glam metal albums that appeal to me, either for the catchy songwriting displayed or some sort of nostalgia, but Dokken have never released any of them. Stick with Tooth and Nail, it’s the only decent album they’ve ever released.


Originally written for: http://www.metal-observer.com

Back for one more. - 91%

hells_unicorn, December 11th, 2006

Dokken always had a knack for putting together fairly heavy sounding guitar work with light as hell lyrics and making it work. Their previous efforts all contained their share of riff monsters mixed with poetry about a man weeping over his love lost. This release pretty much follows the example of its predecessors, though we have some tracks that are fairly weak to contrast some of the strongest metal moments that these guys have ever exhibited.

“Kiss of Death” and “Prisoner” are solid metal featuring George Lynch doing what he does best, turning a cheesy breakup song into a galloping metal classic in the case of the former, and an equally cheesy happy love song into a metal anthem. All of the riffs are solid, the vocals are nice and raunchy, and during the solos you can literally picture Lynch setting his fret board on fire with his fingers. “Night by Night” is a nice heavy down tempo rocker with more signature lead guitar work. “Standing in the Shadows” is more of a catchy rocker with a neat mix of clean and distorted guitar ideas. “Heaven Sent” is a bit more blues inspired and is something of an indicator of a different direction that Lynch would take in the 1990s with his guitar sound, though the chorus section is more in line with the 80s Dokken sound.

Towards the middle of the album the energy starts to taper off a bit, owing mostly to a set of semi-inspired moments mixed with some recycled ideas. “So Many Tears” is a solid song, but it sounds like it belongs on “Under Lock and Key” as it carries a stronger resemblance to most of the mid-tempo work on there. It has a strong chorus and some good riffs, but ultimately it throws off the continuity of this album, which otherwise is an evolution into a heavier sound. “Burning like a Flame” has plenty of good moments, but is a bit too light and happy for its own good, and takes a bit too long to develop.

Things pick up again with “Lost behind the Wall”, which sounds a bit like mid-80s Judas Priest in the guitar department, minus the occasional clean track fill-ins. “Stop Fighting Love” has a nice brief acoustic intro before kicking into another series of catchy Lynch riffs. “Cry of the Gypsy” is a highlight track, combining some less flowery lyrics with some incredible rhythm and lead work. This one is easy to sing along with, although it’s more attempting to play air guitar to it. “Sleepless Nights” is fairly heavy, although it more resembles a rock song than a metal one. The lyrics are a bit of a cliché homage to the 80s practice of excess, but the vocals are well delivered.

The remaining two tracks on here are the obvious standouts, as they each underscore the talents of one of the two front men of this band. “Mr. Scary” is probably the heaviest and most metal album that this band has ever put out, owing in part to it being an instrumental and the brainchild of riff master George Lynch. We don’t have any mushy lyrics on here; just tons of great lead work and some heavy usage of the double bass drum. “Dream Warriors” has its share of great guitar moments, but highlights Don Dokken’s vocal prowess quite a bit more. The lyrics are haunting and, at times, awe inspiring when one considers that this band also wrote “Heartless Heart”. The vocal delivery is a highlight that any 80s singer would envy, as Don belts out the highest notes he’s ever done frequently and throws some great counter melodies into the other voice tracks to contrast his primary part.

In conclusion, this album contains the best work Dokken has ever done, but unfortunately it’s mixed in with some uninspired moments. If “So Many Tears” had been bumped back to “Under Lock and Key” and if “Burning like a Flame” had been dropped from the track list, this album would have scored a 100. Sadly this is the last truly great studio release Dokken put out before the famous breakup. It can truly be stated that one of the sad facts of being in a band is that when you have 2 dominant alphas in charge, a power struggle will eventually occur. I will always prefer Lynch’s guitar playing to Dokken’s vocals, but it is a genuine shame that their combined efforts would never again yield the sound that was on display by them during the 80s. This album is recommended to fans of 80s traditional metal and shred, it is truly a good buy

Slightly heavier, far more consistent - 71%

Bloodstone, January 5th, 2005

The rating is to be taken with a grain of salt, as this album isn't that overwhelmingly different from the previous one, musically. However, it sort of impresses me in that it manages to be much longer AND much more consistent at the same time, and as the consistency was one of the main problems two years earlier, the overall rating of course has to end up much higher. It has thirteen songs and clocks in at over an hour, but nothing on here is absolute throw-away material either, at the very worst it's just a bit forgettable.

In other good news, the heaviness and intensity is pushed a little on this release. While some of the songs aren't as involved and atmospheric as they were on ULaK, the distortion has been allowed to breathe a bit more and the production is also made less soft around the edges, much due to that the sound of everything is a bit tighter and less "echoing". Add to this that there are no COMPLETE ballads on here, just a few semi- ones, and it is certain that this release is more metal than the last. It's still no W.A.S.P. debut as far as pure heaviness goes (and ESPECIALLY as far as "rocking out" goes), but I guess it can hold its own.

But unfortunately, very little actual song material here is worth getting all worked up for. It's kind of funny, as every song on the album is pretty memorable and also discernable from the other songs, but everything is just so...unremarkable. That's the problem we have here; while pretty much everything is listenable and fairly enjoyable all the way through, there's just so very little that STANDS OUT a lot, like something that sticks in your head all day or just makes you want to come back for more. It's not bad, just very unremarkable; funny, because I don't think there is another album that I hear just the same way, i.e. almost EVERYTHING on an album being memorable and unremarkable at the same time.

EXCEPTION: the entire song "Kiss of Death". By far the best Dokken song counting this and the previous album; it has lots of great fucking riffs, a surprisingly good vocal performance and an absolutely soaring chorus. Yes, it's still more than a bit 80's in nature, but this song can pretty much be described as pure power metal; moreso than "just" heavy metal, in fact. In any case, the songwriting is just amazing and this cannot be described as anything less than a pure classic - and whaddaya know, for once the band doesn't seem to be playing at 40% effort; here, they're pretty much delivering exactly as much intensity as the song needs.

And wouldn't you know, that song just so happens to be the opener!! No other song comes close - no other song even TRIES, as that particular song is just something a bit different from what they normally do, something of a different CALIBER, in a word.

There isn't much to say about the other tracks, other than a very few that manage to stand out in one way or another. Semi-ballad "Heaven Sent", for example - can't miss that opening Pilson bass riff! Also, the pre-chorus is quite effective, incorporating keyboards - and I'm surprised over how well it seems to work, seeing how this band usually trips over itself when going for depth and emotion such as this.

"Burning Like a Flame" was unsurprisingly the lead single off this record, partially because it's a bit more glam-tinged and less metal than the other songs, but I think it also stands out a bit more than some other songs, much due to that fluffy, infectious chorus that could almost have made a Bon Jovi album! Oh well, maybe it's just me; the average metal fan will likely dismiss this song as a Kix/Pretty Boy Floyd reject anyway.

Other than those..."Dream Warriors" is almost like a much-improved "In My Dreams" and generally sounds a bit more like the previous album. Anyway, nice riffs, nice chorus, pretty catchy...this one was included in "A Nightmare on Elm Street 3", on a useless sidenote. Also, well-known instrumental "Mr. Scary" contains some total metal riffs (one that is almost the chorus of "Terrible Certainty"!) making it a highlight, but like Dokken in general, the completely lack of intensity REALLY holds this tune back.

And as for the rest: at least give 'em a listen. If you find yourself really fond of any of the non-standouts on here, this album is an absolute can't-miss. But beyond the opener, I personally just don't find myself pwned in any way by anything on here, almost. Keep in mind that I am normally a HUGE fan of this side of the rock/metal genre, but how this band still to this day is hailed by so many metalheads all around as the "greatest hair band of all time" is a bit beyond me...I still don't think they hold a candle to bands like the Crüe, Bon Jovi or even Guns n' Roses.

What has made Dokken stand out from the rest of the scene, as I mentioned in my previous review, is their superior metalness. "Kiss of Death" displays that better than any other track, but even in the other songs, it's noticable that the riffwork is just something quite different and in the end shares more in common with straight-up heavy metal bands such as Judas Priest and Manowar (none are close comparisons, though). However, the LA hair vibe is for the most part still present in their sound, and when you add to that their sense of emotion and overall atmosphere, that is reminiscent of a band as "serious" as Queensrÿche (earliest era), Dokken manage to find themselves a total metal niche, and one that is definitely their own. Dokken's almost power metal-ish vocals, as well as George Lynch's tight, sharp and quite unique guitar tone and just unique (and flashy) playing in general undeniably helps this a lot too.

So beyond just being on the "metal" side of the whole glam thing, their songwriting is a bit more "serious", as well as having a sound that is entirely their own. This for sure is admirable, but what good does this when it doesn't even WORK?! Most importantly, apart from the songwriting being fairly unspectacular, they just don't know how to ROCK OUT, and that's something you NEED to know, especially in this sub-genre. The drumming is, just as on the last album, far too fucking stiff and unimaginative, the vocal work for the most part sounds rather tired and generally uninspired and the production is just of a type that doesn't let the songs BREATHE as much as they could, even if it's an improvement over the last release.

Poison, for one, at least could ROCK THE FUCK OUT, and did, instead of actually writing great songs. It's just that this band doesn't normally write particularly great songs to make up for it either, and that's the problem we're having here. More metal equals neither increased intensity, nor better songwriting, that is what this album as well as Dokken in general shows (although they admittedly deserve better than being compared with a band such as Poison, especially in talent).

Oh well. At least it's a SOLID release for what it is. It certainly works as background music, or just for spinning the first track and stopping after that.

Underrated! One of the best Dokken albums - 85%

PowerMetalGuardian, May 12th, 2004

The most underrated Dokken album, Back From the Attack has been known for its cheesy ballads, bunch of fillers, and a very similar pattern of recycled Dokken songs. This however, is far from the truth. Personally I think Back From the Attack is at most the third best Dokken album, and I'll prove why.

There are some filler songs like Heaven Sent and So Many Tears, but there are a lot of good songs here. A change in the song writing is also noticeable; Don and George didn't hog all the writing and Jeff Pilson gets to work on some of his songs; two of the bests songs on this album Mr. Scary which is an instrumental and Dream Warriors, a very classic Dokken song.

You can start to tell that Dokken was also maturing on this album. Glam metal started sounding more like pop rock instead of actual metal. On this album, Dokken did not take that approach and on a lot of the songs actually beefed up the riffs, making them sound more like hard metal than glam. You can definitely notice these harder sounding riffs in the first couple songs, especially the intros and verses to Kiss of Death and Prisoner, two very underrated Dokken songs.

Don't get me wrong, you're not going to pick this album up and see straight traditional heavy metal. Don Dokken's voice gives this album its glam edge. But you can tell George Lynch experimenting with heavier riffs -maybe leading latter to for his band Lynch Mob. If you don't like glam metal then don't even bother. Also not the best Dokken album, but surely nothing to pass over. Good songs to check out are: Kiss of Death, Prisoner, Mr. Scary, Burning Like A Flame, and Dream Warriors.