Released: 2008, Rhino Records
In a recent metal-rules.com interview, Don Dokken talks about the writing for the new Dokken record, LIGHTNING STRIKES AGAIN. In it, he discusses the difficult process of rewriting the album because what was originally presented to the label was deemed too modern. When reading that interview in detail, you get the sense of frustration on his part at trying to stay successful, all while going back in time, attempting to recreate a moment of lightning from the past. One could understand why he would try to do so: the last two Dokken albums, LONG WAY HOME and HELL TO PAY, were rather limp and uninteresting. Unfortunately, the end result of this effort seems like a waste of time as the album is riddled with mostly uninspired and unenergetic tunes.
There are two major problems with the album overall: one is Don’s dead vocal delivery, sounding weak and gruff; the other is the dragging pace that most of the tracks contain, always sounding like they are just a beat or two too slow. Some songs succeed better than others. For example, the opener, “Standing on the Outside” has a semi-upbeat feel to it and a nice, big hook. Other tracks, like “Point of no Return” and “Judgment Day” also try to recapture the old fire, but they feel so forced that they fall just short. Other tracks don’t even do as well as the ones already mentioned, all falling into a mid-tempo drudgery. Tracks like “Give me a Reason,” “Heart to Stone,” and “Oasis” best represent the bulk of this album’s malaise. Two decades ago, Don could write a convincing ballad that had some power behind it (see “Alone Again”), however, the two offered on this platter are some of the most depressingly, somber and weak offerings of his career. “How I Miss Your Smile” and “I Remember” are so paint by numbers that they fail to even acknowledge the emotion that they are supposed to convey.
It is very sad to watch you childhood heroes fade, and for many this album will be a further sign of such a wasting away for an icon of days gone by. When Dokken came back with 1995’s DYSFUNCTIONAL, they offered a relevant and vibrant album of new material. After another misstep, SHADOWLIFE, and the loss of George Lynch again, they offered perhaps one of their best efforts to date, ERASE THE SLATE, a highly energetic, contemporary piece of melodic rock/metal. Since then, though, they have been continuing to spiral further down the drain, soon to be forgotten. It seems likely that if Don could put aside the worries of trying to recreate something long gone, he could make another great album that would truly represent where he is today. Unfortunately, after another wasted effort like, LIGHTNING STRIKES AGAIN, it is doubtful that anyone will care enough to give it a try.