It seems like metal is making a comeback, or at least, it just won't go away. This summer has seen a plethora of releases from bands you might not have thought about in a long, long time. Admit it, you had a mullet back in high school. And you liked it! You thought it was cool. I'm not ashamed to say, so did I. We have here a few bands from the 80s-era that are trying to keep it real in 2004. Do they make the grade?
First off, we have the latest release from German metal pioneers, The Scorpions. Let me tell you, I was very surprised by this one---the new album rivals some of their best, including Blackout and Love At First Sting. They haven't changed their mid-80s formula too much, but it still holds plenty of power. The songs are catchy and loud, and the riffs from guitarists Matthias Jabs and Rudolph Schenker are tighter than ever. If you have ever been a Scorpions fan, this is a must-have!
Normally a covers album isn't all that special, but it is when it comes from a band like Rush. As the godfathers of prog rock, the last thing you'd expect is a by-the-numbers take on classic rock tunes. So how does it fare? The sound reminds me of Rush's first two albums, where they still had that raw classic rock style, so it's a lot meaner and leaner than what Rush fans have been used to. The guys are playing simple, but they're playing with their hearts. Plus, the songs are not manipulated too far from the originals, so there is not much in the way of overplaying or histrionics---something that has weighed down more than a few of their efforts. Overall, the album is hit-and-miss, with the best efforts being the hardest: the aggressive take on Blue Cheer's version of Summertime Blues, The Who's The Seeker, and the blues rock staple Crossroads. The most ironic thing--and saddest statement about contemporary radio---is that this will probably get more airplay for Rush than anything they've done since Power Windows. Go figure!
You gotta hand it to Motorhead; they are consistent. The latest from Lemmy & Co. sounds like it could have dropped right out of 1982 without a flinch. It's hard, fast, and loud. Would you expect anything else? The key track here is In The Name Of Tragedy, a song that that twists and turns with absolute fury, and would put even Metallica to shame. They wish they were this metal.
I always was partial to Dokken---back in the day, they were too big to be considered underground but not quite big enough to be superstars. Sort of the underdogs of hair metal. The new album finds original members Don Dokken and Mick Brown plugging away with an updated guitarist and bassist, and for me at least, it's hard to imagine Dokken without the guitars of George Lynch (see below). To get right to the point: the album has potential, but it never really breaks out. The only song that strikes me is the cool modern rocker, Prozac Nation, which unfortunately gets bogged down in a dreadful spoken-word section near the end.
Hearing this CD makes me think that Lynch and Don Dokken should kiss and make up. Perhaps between the two of them they can start making memorable albums again. Unlike the aforementioned Rush, Lynch shows us how NOT to make a covers album. The music is perfect, the singing is perfect, the guitars are perfect, and that's the problem. There is no soul to be found. And that is a true shame, because Lynch is one monster of a guitarist who can do much better than this.