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Hell to Pay

Wednesday, Aug 11 2004
When this '80s metal band asserts that it was never about commercial hits in its most recent press release, you can smell the pungent waft of revisionist history a mile away. Dokken may have dabbled with harder-edged sounds and boasted a top-flight shredder in original guitarist George Lynch, but there's no denying that the outfit helped pave the way for the many spandex-clad, hair-farming lightweights who followed the same power-ballad path to platinum status. Maybe the group really thought the eighth-grade-caliber cover art for Hell to Pay looked "evil" and that the tougher riffs would cover up pop elements nicked straight from the Beatles' handbook (high harmony vocals, sitar-ish guitar noodling on "The Last Goodbye," and a touch of watery, effect-heavy organ on "Letter From Home"). Of course, Dokken's quest to prove its own mettle takes it in the pants with the additional "unplugged" version of the painfully sappy weeper "Care for You" tacked on at the end of the disc. Final score: Wuss Rock 38, True Metal 3.

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Dave Pehling


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