[8/10] The last record I enjoyed from Dokken was Lightning Strikes Again recorded back in 2008. I thought it to be a stunning return to form for the band, built around the opening track “Standing on The Outside.” Lead guitarist Jon Levin certainly felt like he was channeling the spirit of ex-member George Lynch and his inspired playing helped to build a foundation of barbed-wire riffs and razor-sharp melodies. That was four years ago though, and now the band is back with the same line-up and coming at the fans again with another solid effort.
This time around Dokken deliver their 11th studio release (Broken Bones) and although some of the dynamism and tenacity from their last album show up here, I found this release exhibiting a bit more variety. The opening number “Empire” is arguably the best track on the album, and much like “Standing on the Outside” from their previous effort, this tune deals out some solid fret work from Levin. The song works best in the middle portion when Levin breaks into a crunchy and fiery sound propelling the riffs forward. At least it helped to get the ball rolling in the right direction and they follow this up with “Broken Bones” and “Best of Me.” Both are rousing and energetic numbers, adhering closely to that winning 80’s formula that made them popular in the first place.
The middle section of this release kicks into high gear with more of Levin’s inspired playing on the bluesy number “Blind’ and bolstered by a killer riff to boot. When you get to “Victim of A Crime,” the musical variations start to take shape in a big way. Don Dokken’s vocals sound as harmonious as ever and there is an Egyptian/Moroccan theme running through the track. This is followed up with “Burning Tears” and again, Levin provides a driving riff to allow the song to morph into a track that reminds me of stuff found on their Dysfunctional album.
As for Don Dokken, his vocals work like a charm here. His heartfelt approach on ballad “Today” slows things down greatly, but he never misses a beat in the process. I absolutely loved his performance on “For the last Time” and “Fade Away” truly reminded me of” Stop Fighting Love” from Back For the Attack, and it certainly helps to get some blistering guitar leads from Levin in support. Don’s voice does strain a bit in parts through obvious wear and tear over the years, but he still proves his vocal abilities have not left him completely. Just listen to the final track “Tonight” as proof positive that he was once one of the 80’s preeminent rock superstars who could deliver that stand-out performance.
Rumor has it that this may be Don Dokken’s last studio release, and if this is so, then he’s going out with a bang. Broken Bones continues to adhere closely to the successful formula established in the 80’s, and guitarist Jon Levin has come into his own as a true successor to George Lynch. For my money’s worth this album is a viable follow-up to Lightning Strikes Again and deserves some loving from Dokken’s die-hard fans.
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