• Tue. Jun 25th, 2024

Heaven Comes Down – Studio Album 12 From Don Dokken and Company!

ByTaylor T Carlson

Oct 30, 2023

HEAVEN COMES DOWN is the twelfth studio album from Dokken.

In the 1980s, Dokken rocked the world with countless classic anthems. Don Dokken’s soaring vocals and George Lynch’s legendary shredding made for some fantastic albums and live concert experiences. Though the band lineup has fluctuated over the years, vocalist Don Dokken has remained the group’s one constant member. HEAVEN COMES DOWN is the latest studio album from the House of Dokken, their first since 2012’s BROKEN BONES. The band lineup features vocalist Don Dokken accompanied by guitarist Jon Levin, bassist Chris McCarvill, and drummer BJ Zampa.

I have something of a love/hate relationship with the music of Dokken. The band’s albums in the 1980s were legendary, topped off with the classic double live album BEAST FROM THE EAST. Even releases from the varying incarnations of the band haven’t been half bad. BROKEN BONES from 2012 was surprisingly solid; hard to believe it’s been over a decade since the last full-length studio effort. Unfortunately, things haven’t been all good in the Dokken camp, the biggest offender being Don Dokken himself. I’ve seen the man in concert three times now, and let’s just say that vocally, the guy just can’t bring it anymore. That said, upon hearing of a new studio effort, I was certainly curious. And I’m always willing to give a new album a shot. How does it fare?

This is a difficult album to review because the issue of Don’s vocals is difficult to ignore, and there’s a definite feeling of “been there, done that” that looms over much of the effort. The opening one-two punch of “Fugitive” and “Gypsy” (not to be confused with classic Dokken song “Cry of the Gypsy) isn’t half bad, certainly reminiscent of classic Dokken, but both songs sound exactly the same as one another, with lyrics being the only real substantial difference. Much of the album does feel like an attempt to recapture that 80s Dokken sound, and believe me, they come close on a few occasions. Guitarist Jon Levin has long been the band’s unappreciated secret weapon, and his riffs serve as the album’s highlights.

Even if it does feel like a pretty blatant retread of the old Dokken albums, the songwriting isn’t bad. Attempts at slower and more melodic tracks certainly conjure up old memories of the best kind, and there are certainly highlights, including the riffs of “Saving Grace” which are heavily influenced by Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir,” and the soaring anthemic chorus of “Over the Mountain” (not a cover of the Ozzy Osbourne song). HEAVEN COMES DOWN sounds like a Dokken album through and through, even if it can’t quite reach the heights of the classic band’s legendary 80s efforts.

HEAVEN COMES DOWN is a middle-of-the-road affair. The songwriting is good enough. Levin’s guitar work is superb as usual, and a solid rhythm section keeps things moving along. But Don remains the weak link in his own band with his diminishing vocal capabilities. Eddie Trunk frequently mentions artists who’ve “stayed too late at the party,” and Don Dokken is certainly on that list. I can’t give HEAVEN COMES DOWN a glowing recommendation, but it’s certainly better than it could’ve been. If nothing else, it’s worth streaming at least once. You may even walk away falling in love with a track or two, though your hard-earned cash would be better spent on reissues of the band’s classic 80s efforts.

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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