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Decent Album - 70%

Funeral_Pyres, August 14th, 2004

I was able to get ahold of the new Dokken album "Hell to Pay" recently. It was released in July and needless to say I was really surprised to see that the band would still be releasing albums. My previous Dokken experience had consisted of the classics "Tooth & Nail", "Under Lock and Key", "Back for the Attack" and "Beast from the East", all of which were instant classics and some of the best heavy metal to ever be released. So before I even listened to "Hell to Pay", I knew that it probably wouldn't live up to the high standards of those albums, seeing how about twenty years have passed. Even though my assumption was correct, "Hell to Pay" certainly stands as a good heavy metal release that will probably entertain many fans of the genre.

The production and musicianship on this album are quite good. The only original band members who remain today in 2004 are vocalist Don Dokken (of course) and the drummer Mick Brown, both of whom carry the album nicely. Dokken is no longer able to hit the high notes like he was back in the eighties, but his vocals are still excellent. The infectious hooks he provides us with on the tracks "Escape" and "Haunted" show that he hasn't lost too much of his touch. Most of the lyrical content still has to do with the tumultuous love life of the vocalist, one thing that has certainly remained unchanged since the eighties. The guitars on this disc are pretty good. You'll find excellent, catchy riffing on many of the tracks, including "The Last Goodbye", "Don't Bring Me Down", "Haunted", "Better Off Before" as well as "Can You See". The new guitarist acquired for this album is John Levin, who is cool but is only a shadow of the former Dokken member George Lynch. Levin doesn't solo for as long nor as frequently as Lynch did, thus leaving a lot to be desired for fans of early Dokken material. The bass of Barry Sparks can be heard loud and clear throughout the duration of "Hell to Pay", and some interesting keyboard moments can be heard as well.

I know that I probably shouldn't judge the overall quality of this disc based on the material that Dokken was putting out twenty years ago, but it is almost impossible not to. Therefore, I'd have to give this disc a 70% rating. While it delivers the track "Haunted", which I honestly think is one of my favorite Dokken songs of all time, there are also too many generic sounding moments. I also dislike the song "Care for You", and was disappointed to hear that track 12 was the unplugged version of the same song. All in all, this is a pretty good album that will find its way into the cd player every so often. I'm glad to see that Dokken will still have some metal moments, since I've heard they tried to experiment with some alternative rock during the 90s.