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Dokken > Heaven Comes Down > Reviews > marcelovieiramusic
Dokken - Heaven Comes Down

Dokken’s Nostalgic Triumph Amidst Adversity - 80%

marcelovieiramusic, June 8th, 2024
Written based on this version: 2023, CD, Silver Lining Music (Digipak)

Don Dokken was 30 years old and at his peak when he recorded "When Heaven Comes Down," one of the most iconic tracks from Dokken's second studio album, "Tooth and Nail" (1984). This dark and heavy song features verses that seem to reflect an emotional struggle the singer and lyricist was going through. The reference to heaven coming down can be interpreted as a metaphor for the loss of innocence or hope.

Now, Don is in his seventies, with a medical history that includes complications from vocal cord surgery in the mid-1990s and back problems that have resulted in multiple surgeries over the years. It was time to revisit the metaphor, promoting it as the backdrop for the band's 13th studio release, which bears his name.

Accompanied by guitarist Jon Levin and the rhythm section from House of Lords, Chris McCarvill (bass) and BJ Zampa (drums), Don delivers in “Heaven Comes Down” what might be his most personal and emotional lyrics to date. He has never opened his heart as much as he does in the final acoustic track "Santa Fe" and has perhaps never offered such a mea culpa as he does in the introspective “Is It Me Or You?”.

Musically, more than ever, Dokken seems driven by nostalgia. Levin has long tried to replicate the tones and phrasing of his primary predecessor, George Lynch, but here the references reach another level. The opener "Fugitive" echoes the drama of "Unchain the Night," the first track of the classic "Under Lock and Key" (1985). Meanwhile, "I’ll Never Give Up" is a prodigal daughter of "Walk Away," the ballad that put an end to the band's classic phase in 1988.

In the vocal department, it’s as if the tank is always on reserve. Without daring to attempt the impossible feats that can’t be reproduced live, Don still gets some providential help from the experienced Mark Boals on vocal harmonies and backing vocals. On the other end of the process, Kevin Shirley ensured that this album has the most powerful sound of any Dokken record since “Erase the Slate” (1999).

Despite the struggling — perhaps even subpar — performances in recent live shows, Don proves during “Heaven Comes Down” that, at least in the studio, he can still lead Dokken to good results. It may not compare to the multiplatinum successes of four decades ago, but it is certainly a testament to survival and a certificate of the wisdom that only maturity can provide.