DOKKEN – Lightning Strikes Again

DOKKEN - Lightning Strikes Again
  • 7.5/10
    DOKKEN - Lightning Strikes Again - 7.5/10


Release date: April 11, 2008

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Everyone knows when in his/their prime, Dokken epitomized the Melodic Metal scene of the 80s by pairing catchy rhythms with incredible vocal harmonies. Throw in some of the most innovative guitar work by former (?) bandmate George Lynch, and it’s no wonder why albums like Tooth And Nail and Under Lock And Key were multi-platinum chart busters. The talent within the band has always been nothing short of stellar, but the band fell into that evil trap of success, and eventually personalities got in the way of riches in perpetuity. Subsequently along the way were several line-up changes and albums every 3 or 4 years that made only a few ripples … bringing the band now to 2008 and the release of Lightning Strikes Again; a release showing Don Dokken very motivated towards “recapturing” some of that musical magic that was so successful in the 80s heyday. In fact, during an exclusive conversation held with Metal Express Radio in the spring of 2007, Dokken stated he was “amazed” at how well the Scorpions were able to recapture their sound of old in Humanity: Hour I (check out the review here), and felt he was on track towards pulling off the same with his up-coming release. With Barry Sparks on bass, Mick Brown on drums, and Jon Levin on guitars, the stage was indeed set for that bolt of lightning to find its way home …

… as the adage says, however, “Lightning Never Strikes The Same Place Twice.” Or does it? Well, based on the opening track, “Standing On The Outside,” when Levin kicks in with a Lynch-ish roaring riff after a mellow introduction, all indications certainly lean towards an emphatic “YES!” What you’ll find are those signature catchy rhythms and vocal harmonies layered all over the place, plus a few killer Levin solo interludes that make you think right away that Lynch must have made a guest appearance on this record. Overall, a great song that rivals anything Dokken has put out throughout their 25+ years in the circuit. The album stays the course with the 2nd and 3rd tracks, “Give Me A Reason” and “Heart To Stone,” respectively, both very high quality, memorable tracks with plenty of energy and great guitar work by Levin.

The album takes a bit of a turn with the 4th track, “Disease,” a song that comes across aggressively, but a bit disorganized (although it’s saved by Levin’s stellar guitar solo), and then a couple of slower tempo numbers enter the picture in “How I Miss Your Smile” and “Oasis” – songs that on their own stand as pretty decent tracks, but have the effect of shattering the 80s euphoria that this album had created thus far. It may have been a more appropriate decision to place these songs at the end of the album instead of smack dab in the middle. Anyway, track 7 “Point Of No Return” brings back some of the energy lost, but also exposes the fact that Dokken’s voice is nowhere near the level of what it was back in the 80s and 90s. In Don’s own words on July 2, 2008, he had been hiding his alcohol addiction and also has been a smoker for years … so let that be a lesson for you, kiddies … booze and smokes WILL eventually take their toll on your voice if you’re an aspiring vocalist – even one of the GREATEST vocalists of all time has suffered the consequences. Editorial aside, as Don attempts to hit a few classic Dokken wails during “Point Of No Return,” you can hear him struggle, and you’ll almost find yourself wincing in empathetic pain along the way, though he makes a valiant effort.

The subsequent tracks are all enjoyable too, paced between slow and mid-tempo, but nothing completely stands out until the closing track “This Fire,” which indeed wraps up this album with the same energy and “classic” Dokken sound found at the beginning of this release. Levin again impresses with his guitar work, and the vocal harmonies just “feel good” – like any quality Dokken song should.

Overall, Dokken is successful at some points in this album of showing that lightning can strike again … however, true form to the band’s 80s heyday is never fully reached with Lightning Strikes Again. What you have here is a very enjoyable, easy to listen to album, showing Dokken still possesses strong song-writing acumen, but with subdued vocal abilities in the new millennium, truly recapturing the “raw” power and energy of say 87’s Back For The Attack release is just not possible. Enough can’t be said about Jon Levin and he should be applauded for his performance on this release – he really does seem to fit in the band well, and his “fresh” playing style will often remind you of George Lynch-era Dokken. This album may not totally knock your socks off, but it’s still a solid effort and a recommended buy – if for anything, just to hear Levin show his chops!


  • Dan Skiba

    Dan is a former partner at Metal Express Radio, and also served as a reviewer, photographer and interviewer on occasions. Based out of Indianapolis, USA he was first turned on to Hard Rock music in the mid-1970s when he purchased Deep Purple's Machine Head as his first album. He was immediately enthralled with the powerful guitar sound and pronounced drumbeat, and had to get more! His collection quickly expanded to include as many of Heavy Rock bands of the time that he could get his hands on, such as Ted Nugent, Judas Priest, and Black Sabbath, to name just a few.

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