Release date: September 25, 2012
Frontiers has once again brought back one of the 80s heralded hair bands. This time around Dokken finds a new home for the release of its eleventh studio effort, Broken Bones. Vocalist Don Dokken remains of course as does powerhouse drummer, Mick Brown. Guitarist Jon Levin returns for his second album, and bassist Sean McNabb has joined to record his first.
While many diehards contend that Dokken without Geroge Lynch is no Dokken at all, the truth is, Levin is a phenomenal guitarist, and the absence of Lynch is, well, absent. Right from the album opener, “Empire”, that classic crunchy and sweeping Dokken guitar signature grabs hold. Very aggressive, uptempo, and hits like a hammer. The song could have come off any of the band’s 80s efforts like Tooth and Nail, or Under Lock and Key, and fit in perfectly.
The tempo slows for the album’s title track, and Don’s voice is pushed to the front. While he may have lost a bit of his range with age, 30 years later, these songs don’t require him to scream. His voice still has that smoky and melodic quality that fit these songs perfectly.
On “Best of Me” the guys get their swagger on: Strong groove, and a wonderfully hooky chorus.
Lyrically this is one of Dokken’s more personal efforts and sets a darker, more melancholy tone for the record. It’s something of a message album. In fact, if not for Levin’s ballsy and energetic fretwork, this album could at times slip into a coma. Note to Don: Older does not mean you have to surrender your man-card. Sac up and let the riffage rip.
The album as a whole has a lot of very solid tracks, though few stand out as strongly as the first three or four, and the middle of the disc almost seems to meander and bog down in places. However, the record ends up with some quality tracks like the chunky “For the Last Time”, and the fist-pumping album closer, “Tonight” which has a slight Egyptian undercurrent to the guitar.
Bottom line: This is a good album for Dokken fans, and fans of the classic 80s hard rock/metal sound. A few stage ready rockers, with a handful of songs that will hit or miss dependent on your individual tastes. None of the tracks on Broken Bones is liable to break anything, but there are a couple of songs that could crack a rib. While Broken Bones is a quality listen, it does not recapture the spark of the band’s first few records.