Breaking The Chains
Elektra Records, 1983
REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 03/09/2004
There are things in our past which we try desperately to put behind us. That's why it's not uncommon to see such things as high school yearbooks, old photos and outdated clothes buried deep within our garages -- only to be discovered at an inopportune moment by some member of our family. (Fortunately, our garage is enough of a deathtrap that my 7-year-old daughter doesn't dare go spelunking.)
Also belonging to this pile of hopefully-repressed memories is a lot of the hair metal that we used to listen to when we were younger. Now, I happen to like Dokken, though I admit that they had to grow on me when I was in my teens. I've seen their live show, and they have truly impressed me.
But when I go back and listen to an album like Breaking The Chains, Dokken's debut effort from 1983, I have to wonder just what people saw in them at all. Horribly lacking in any musical muscle and delivered with half-hearted vocals, this disc has been forgotten in time -- and rightfully so.
Granted, the title track is worth the effort, even if Don Dokken's vocals seem like they could have been amped up a bit more and delivered with some fire. But once you get past that three-minute blast, there really isn't much more worth celebrating on this disc.
Tracks such as "In The Middle," "Felony," "Seven Thunders" and "Nightrider" all fail to demonstrate why Dokken was deserving of a chance in the world of heavy metal (though to be fair, Dokken could well have been one of those bands who were mis-labeled as metal when they really were more rock). It often sounds like the band was still coming together as a group, with some beats coming in slightly off-tempo on occasion. And while George Lynch is regarded by some as a guitar hero, he doesn't offer the kind of pyrotechnics on the six-stringer that you would expect. Even the opening moments of "Paris Is Burning," which is supposed to be a showcase for Lynch, fails to spark any real interest.
So what went wrong with Breaking The Chains? In the end, it was a series of small problems which, when added up, turned into a big mess. Dokken would eventually find their musical voice and niche, and the overall groove would tighten up to the point of implosion (which, regrettably, Dokken has a history of). While they would go on to make some solid music, Breaking The Chains is undoubtedly the weakest link in their discography.