Although they have been standing on a shaky foundation for the past 20 years or so, 80s hard rock icons Dokken are back in 2012 to deliver their 11th studio album, Broken Bones. After a medley of break-ups and reformations, Don Dokken is back again to follow up 2008’s Lightning Strikes Again, which received generally positive reviews. Only two members of the original line-up are on the album, but the past has proven that Dokken can still rock without the influence of co-founder George Lynch.
Broken Bones may come as a bitter surprise to faithful Dokken fans. Broken Bones isn’t full of the fast, upbeat riffing (with a few ballads thrown in between) that fans have come to expect. Instead, the songs take place somewhere in between. Musically, there is an almost gloomy feel to the album. The lyrical content is dark, but reflective. “Victim of the Crime” and “Waterfall” are fantastic examples of this thematic overhaul. A change like this should come natural to a band of this age – the members are maturing, and so are the themes. Nevertheless, there are still a few songs that pay tribute to their roots. “For The Last Time” is a powerful rocker, one of the most memorable Dokken songs in recent history, and “Burning Tears” sounds like a modern take on “Alone Again.”
Some bands can overcome the musical changes that come with age, while others can’t. It is a well-known fact that Don Dokken has been facing struggles with his voice lately. In an attempt to combat this, he underwent vocal surgery a year ago. Unfortunately, Dokken’s voice is still the major factor that holds back the band. Quite frankly, his singing sounds old and weathered. The musical change can be understood and accepted, but the feebleness of his voice cannot be ignored. It’s something that can dampen even the most well written albums. The background vocals do a decent job of covering up some of Don’s shortcomings, but he can only sing so much nowadays.
Broken Bones can be a tough album to evaluate. The musical changes, coupled with Don Dokken’s ever fading voice makes Dokken sound like a different band. The lyrical content is enjoyable, albeit a bit melancholy. Despite numerous personnel changes, the band behind Don is as tight as ever. Loyal fans may scoff at the new band, but they are as capable as the original lineup. However, I can say with full confidence that I believe it’s time for Dokken to throw in the towel. In order to save the integrity of the band, I hope Don realizes his glory days are over. Broken Bones is the sound of a band that has grown up, for better or for worse. Give it a chance Dokken fans – it’s not the best, but it certainly could have been worse.
Key Tracks: Burning Tears, For The Last Time, Best of Me
Austin Hannaleck-Contributor MuzikReviews.com
October 15, 2012