Saturday, October 27, 2012

T&N: "Slave To The Empire"

Rating: RRRr
Label: earMusic/Edel 2012
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

The Don's last stand, "Broken Bones", came out the other month and we could witness the end of the Dokken era/empire? The former band members (Jeff Pilson - vocals/bass, George Lynch - guitars, Mick Brown - drums) are however still under the influence of the evil emperor? Well, at least according to their new album title, "Slave To the Empire". Not to mention that T&N stands for Tooth & Nail (the Dokken album) and that 5 out of 12 tracks are Dokken re-recordings with special guests on lead vocals. The new stuff feature Brian Tiachy on drums while Mick Brown handles the oldies.

The new stuff first. The CD kicks off with the smoking title track that will instantly remind you of the good old days. Flashy guitar work by Lynch and Pilson sings his heart out. The strong presence of tracks such as "Sweet Unknown" and "Rhythm Of The Soul" are indeed at the heart of the meta(l)morphosis that at first will have you thinking about Led Zep, while the latter is just a nice throw-back to the mid/slow tempo tracks. "When Eagles Die" -again, the mixture of Page-ish licks and Dokken. Unfortunately, "Jesus Train", as well as "Access Denied", are somewhat disjointed with the obvious lack of proper hooks. Overall, not too shabby and slightly better than Don's work.

The old stuff. I find it a bit weird to listen to some of the re-recordings and I'm not exactly sold on ex-Judas Priest's Ripper Owens singing "Kiss Of Death". Very metal, over-the-top, and frankly annoying, due to Ripper's constant need to express himself as the bad-ass vocalist with little or no finess. Lynch hates (Dokken) power ballads, that's what he says in each and every interview. Thus why, "Alone Again", certainly is the surprise with Seb Bach (Skid Row) on lead vocals. Doug Pinnick (King's X) sings "Tooth and Nail" and no surprise here, it sounds like King's X performing Dokken. Lynch Mob, Warrant vocalist Robert Mason (It's Not Love) and Jeff Pilson (Into the Fire) are both close to the originals and you'll notice exactly how much Pilson contributed to vocal melodies/harmonies in the past.

Final verdict: The originals are still the best and do not expect to find anything remotely similar to "It's Not Love" amongst the brand new tracks. Not bad though, not bad at all.

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