Album Reviews

Dokken – Hell To Pay

(t and t) UK release date: 19 July 2004

The end times are near, all around us if you look you’ll see the signs. War pits brother against brother, plague and famine stalk the land and now titans of ’80s rock Dokken are back with a new album of wonderfully overblown pomp rock, trailing an ozone destroying cloud of hairspray in their wake.

For those who managed to avoid an adolescence of stitching Ratt and Warrant patches onto their denim jackets and playing role playing games, Dokken may have escaped your attention prior to now, but don’t be fooled, throughout the eighties Don Dokken and his ever changing line-up of poodle haired rockers bestrode the rock scene like a colossus. A colossus made of ROCK.

The tried and tested combination of heavy riffing, endless guitar solos and the sort of vocals high pitched vocals that only men in terrifyingly tight pants can hope to achieve, saw them elevated to the ranks of metal gods. In 2004, when by rights we should all be driving hover cars and listening to music created by brain machines, their greasy haired, balls out rock should be the musical equivalent of Canon & Ball, a curious relic from a less cultured age, fit only to be wheeled out for Channel 4 clip shows.

And yet, strangely enough, the world may be ready to accept a Dokken revival, clown princes of cock-rock The Darkness have sent a generation of music fans scurrying back to their battered LPs in search of the real thing, whilst the fickle media spotlight has turned back to the original acts and been bemused and amazed to find acts like Iron Maiden not just eking out a living but flourishing, selling albums by the million and packing stadiums around the world.

With Hell To Pay, a rejuvenated Dokken are back to near their best, which is to say they’ve dropped all pretence of existing in the modern world and have opted for a back to basics approach. On tracks like opener The Last Goodbye and Don’t Bring Me Down, the guitars fail and wail like banshees, every note the potential start of a solo, whilst Don hollers and emotes for all his worth and when we’re not rocking down the house, there’s the customary ballads, something for the ladies to get into when riding on the back of your motorbike.

Whilst returning to their roots is unlikely to win them a new generation of fans it should be enough to shore up their existing fan-base, appease those fans who have felt let down by some of the bands recent albums and keep the band in hairspray for a few more years to come. For those about to Dokk, we salute you.

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Dokken – Hell To Pay