Dokken – Heaven Comes Down (Album Review)

One of the biggest bands during the ‘80s era of Hard Rock and Metal was unquestionably Dokken. With origins dating back to the late ‘70s, Dokken stamp on the ‘80s scene early on with hits such as 1983’s “Breaking the Chains,” leading through to 1986’s “In My Dreams,” and of course, 1987’s “Dream Warriors.”

A product of the killer lineup, it featured founder Don Dokken on lead vocals, included was none other than George Lynch on lead guitar, Jeff Pilson on bass, and Wild Mick Brown on drums. What is largely considered the classic lineup of the band, there has been much made of the split of the members through the years. Unfortunate that this is still on the mind’s of many, Lynch, Brown and Pilson did in fact reunite with Don to perform several shows in Japan at the end of October 2016. Cool to see, since then, Brown has retired, Pilson is busy with Foreigner (among other projects), and Lynch has made some special guest live appearances with Dokken (amidst his many other responsibilities).

The hard truth of it all, Dokken’s has been solidified with Guitarist Jon Levin (who played on Doro’s 1989 album Force Majeure), Bassist Chris McCarvill (who formerly played with House of Lords), and most recent member, Drummer Bill “BJ” Zampa. Joining up with Don, this lineup is tight, seasoned, and was prime to record an entire album together. That in mind, on October 27, 2023 Dokken will release their highly anticipated new album Heaven Comes Down.

The first studio album from the band since 2012’s Broken Bones, in the meantime, there has been touring, plus the band released The Lost Songs: 1978-1981 album in 2020, and Don’s 2008 solo record Solitary was even re-released, also in 2020. All this in mind, many are curious as to what new Dokken material may sound like since it has been eleven long years without any new music. Well, Dokken did give some strong samples to qunich listener’s thirst with early offerings such as “Fugitive,” and more recently, “Gypsy.” Both sounding very much like classic Dokken, the atmosphere is strong, plus the mixing of veteran Engineer Kevin Shirley, along with production by Bill Palmer and Don is stellar.

With these two songs already out there, you have eight more songs to take in, absorb, and decide what you think. Offering insight, the songs are fresh, but thank goodness not overtly modern; nothing would be worse than Dokken trying to sound like some modern Metal band. What you do get is Dokken doing what Dokken does best; and that is giving you melodic Hard Rock with catchy choruses and great guitar work. 

Which leads to the biggest question… what does Don’s voice sound like? Perhaps the boldest x-factor with any new material from the band, Don’s voice sounds really strong. Of course you cannot expect him to hit the notes he may have on songs like “Into The Fire” or “Lightnin’ Strikes Again,” but that was nearly forty years ago! Naturally our voices change as we age and what Don gives you is a very strong performance that is real and effective.

So, in the end you get a good mix of mid-tempo tunes like “Just Like A Rose,” along with slower ones such as “I’ll Never Give Up,” but also more up-tempo cuts like “Over The Mountain.” Each very well-crafted, you can tell this material was not rushed and Dokken put their best foot forward to bring fans what they want. An album that is Dokken at their best, Cryptic Rock gives Heaven Comes Down 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Dokken – Heaven Comes Down / Silver Lining Music (2023)
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