Album Reviews: Hell to Pay by DokkenWith song titles like "Don’t Bring Me Down," "Escape," "Still I’m Sad," and "I Surrender”, you might think Dokken’s Hell to Pay is a cover album. But these aren't ELO, Journey, and Rainbow retreads -- they're headbanging originals from one of metal's most durable acts.
It’s hard not to notice that new guitarist Jon Levin sounds remarkably like former Dokken axslinger George Lynch. He'd even look a lot like Lynch if his hair were lightened a bit. Those hoping the addition of the ex-Warlock guitarist would help recapture the combination of melodic hooks and fiery guitar that made Dokken stand out from the pack of '80s metal bands will come away encouraged, though not completely satisfied, by the group's latest incarnation.
Levin's solo spots provide many highlights, but otherwise this is a less-than-inspired album. While Dokken sounds like a band that has found its stride after a series of missteps, the arrangements are generally too comfortable and safe. Only “Prozac Nation” sounds fresh, while other songs revisit territory Dokken has previously explored with more passion and creativity. Vocalist/leader Don Dokken has a powerful and edgy upper range, but he rarely use that range here and sounds like he’s holding back. He shouldn’t -- this latest line-up is the best since the band's Tooth and Nail heyday, and has far more potential than Hell to Pay reveals. - Chris Allen
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