Sound — 8
George Lynch may not be a member of Dokken's latest incarnation, but that doesn't mean the current lineup isn't able to deliver a pretty decent recreation of it's 80's heyday. Vocalist Don Dokken, guitarist Jon Levin, drummer Mick Brown, and bassist Barry Sparks aren't trying to conform to anything you hear on the radio these days (emo, pop, metal, or otherwise), and their latest album Lightning Strikes Again is a testament to that fact. The 12 new songs follow in the line of Dokken's first few albums, and while the very idea may seem outdated to some, hair metal devotees will likely cheer in unison. If you've lost touch with Dokken over the past decade as plenty of us have, it may come as some disappointment to know that George Lynch left twice: once in 1988 and a second time in 1997. That being said, current guitarist Jon Levin does a respectable job of taking over Lynch's astounding solo work. Founding member Don Dokken may now be over 50, but his voice has held up surprisingly well. Granted, he's a tad raspier and weathered, but his range and power have remained unaltered by the past few decades' passage. The quality of musicianship is still there, and what will likely be put under the microscope is the band's style or genre. If you love Dokken from the 80's, you'll love Lightning Strikes Again. While there are a few songs that stray slightly from the usual Dokken formula by going for a bit edgier sound, the album will also not alienate the band's fan base. "Disease" is one of the few that goes in a new direction, with the Dokken's vocals heavily enhanced by an echo and the song itself being much heavier than anything the band has done before. All in all you will still get the familiar melody-driven rock songs fueled by technically impressive solos on the album, and the band deserves credit for staying true to itself. So is there any ballad that can stand up against the hit "Alone Again"? "How I Miss Your Smile" misses the mark by sounding a little too cheesy for it's own good. "I Remember" is the better bet, having more of a dark and emotional feel to it. In terms of songs that have staying power in general, "Heart Of Stone" features one of the most memorable choruses on the entire record. The solo work is also pretty incredible on this track, but honestly Levin does a solid job on every track.
Lyrics — 7
There are ups and down in the lyrics, with a few songs falling into the 80's fluff trap. As someone who grew up during that era, that's not such a terrible thing. But for a lot of people who grow in the post-Nirvana world, the lyrics may lay it on a bit thick. On "Standing On The Outside" Dokken sings, "Ya knew there'd be consequences; When I gave you the keys to my heart; You knew that I had intentions; And you knew it right from the start." These are the kinds of lyrics you'd here quite often from 80's bands and I suppose they are again staying true to their roots in that particular case. But the band has more to offer up, with one of the more interesting songs being "Point Of No Return." Dokken sings, "Cast down your promises; The revolutions that I should believe; As you touch the tender face of innocence; Not mutually agreed." I'm not really sure exactly what it all means, but they are definitely not your run-of-the-mill lyrics.
Overall Impression — 8
If you are a fan of "Breaking The Chains," "Dream Warriors," or any of the other Dokken hits, you won't be disappointed by Lightning Strikes Again. The band doesn't waste time trying to be something it's not, which was incredibly smart on their part. There aren't a whole lot of 80's hair metal bands (if you want to lump them in this category) that are still producing new material, and I'd say that it's about time we heard from at least of few of those groups again. The success of events like Rocklahoma (which this July will feature everyone from Dokken to Triumph to Tesla) proves that there is a decent-sized audience that still craves those power balladeers from back in the day.