DOKKEN - Heaven Comes Down
November 9, 2023, 4 months ago
“I’ve been trying to win this fight, but I think I’m gonna lose,” struggles Don Dokken on the chorus for “Is It Me Or You?” While the song is about a toxic relationship, that line may be more about Don’s vocal troubles and the serious power he has lost throughout the years. Heaven Comes Down is Dokken’s first album since the horrible 2012 effort Bad Bones and it’s easy to be skeptical about the quality of a new Dokken album in 2023.
Heaven Comes Down - like 2008’s Lightning Strikes Again – reminds of better times, days of better music, but despite the limitations of the band’s namesake, Heaven Comes Down isn’t bad. It’s an earnest, honest, reflective album with hints of the glory days, while also maintaining a laid back approach. It's one last time time to go rokken with Dokken - the music a suitable soundtrack for a lone motorcyle ride through the desert.
Don’s vocals are tired and there are times where more “oomph!” is needed, but it’s just not there. The ballad “I’ll Never Give Up” speaks to his determination to push through, especially with all the health problems he has suffered.
Guitarist Jon Levin has been with the band for almost 20 years now and is able to let loose on the opener “Fugitive” and following track “Gypsy” while the before mentioned “Is It Me Or You?” has a sleazier, classic Whitesnake-vibe. Bassist Chris McCarvill and drummer B.J. Zampa hold up the rhythm section steadily and don’t draw attention to themselves.
Dokken still has that penchant for delivering great choruses, single material tracks and it’s no different with “Just Like A Rose” and “Over The Mountain” – although it really reminds of Gary Moore’s “Over The Hills And Far Away”. There’s a strong Led Zeppelin and ‘70s influence on “Saving Grace” and “Lost In You”. The sentimental “I Remember” should have been cut out – it’s a weaker and worse version of “Alone Again”.
Closer “Santa Fe” is the best of Heaven Comes Down and one of the best Dokken songs period. The western-tinged acoustic jaunt documents Don’s journey to his newfound home. It’s an example of the kind of material he should be singing. It closes the 42 minute affair on a bright note and while it’s not an outstanding album, Heaven Comes Down is a solid, forthright record from a guy that turned 70 in June.