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Dokken – Hell to Pay

Label: Sanctuary Records
Format: CD
Released: 2004
Reviewed By: Rich Catino

Dokken are back and yes, again with another new guitar player Jon Levin who performs well and sits just fine in Dokken’s style of today.  For those keeping up with the Dokken family tree, George Lynch was replaced by Reb Beach of Winger who did a fantastic job and recorded a vibrant album with them called “Erase the Slate”.   Then Jon Norum from the band Europe stepped in for “Long Way Home” which was decent, with no disrespect to Jon as a player, but leader Don Dokken has followed a different and consistent musical formula for Dokken since this point. 


One rather bland with boring lifeless arrangements.  This is surely no "Back for the Attack" or "Tooth and Nail".  “Hell to Pay” does just that and fails with tunes that favor his lower range, songs are more moody and flow at a moderate pace.  The most energetic song “Don’t Bring Me Down” is second into the album and classic Dokken, definitely should have started off things.  

Dokken has always found its strength in the activity generated from the guitar riffs that polluted each tune from the George Lynch days and even with Reb Beach.  After the train wreck material found on “Shadowlife”, it seems they have not quite yet got back their edge just yet.  Things are much better on “Hell to Pay”, more solid and strong, I give em that.  Songs still have a good singable chorus, but in Don’s lackluster range some chorus’ just fall flat.   I like his mid range on the ballad “Care for You” which has a nice settling flow and is followed by some groove to “Better off Before”.  

Aside from the more melancholy arrangements, Jon Levin provides some very tasty leads for all you shredheads, but I still see more of their age coming through behind this prophetic album title. 

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