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DORO Forever Warriors, Forever United

By Daniel Höhr, European Correspondent
Monday, October 1, 2018 @ 1:09 PM

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Forever Warriors, Forever United

Nuclear Blast, 2018

2018 is a truly special year for German metal queen Doro and her fans. Not only is she celebrating her 35th anniversary of her performing career. But also this special occasion is marked my the release of her 20th studio album, which, as an added bonus, is a double album: Forever Warriors, Forever United. Each album is meant to feature one significant side of Doro's: on Forever Warriors she presents herself as as, you guessed it, a warrior, whereas her more emotional side features on Forever United.

Without any further ado, Forever Warriors kicks in with the first single, “All For Metal”, an anthem abounding in choir and sing-along hook lines but also not devoid of some sort of heavy metal tackiness, especially towards the end of the song when the extremely high ad lib vocals make my finger move closer and closer to the pause button. Whether or not this song will be the new “All We Are”, time will tell. Then Doro and her bandmates, Luca Princiotta (guitars), Bas Maas (guitars), Nick Douglas (bass) and Johnny Dee (drums) turn up the speed a fair notch for “Bastardos”, a straightforward heavy metal neckbreaker. “If I Can't Have You – No One Will” is gloomy, gothic-infused duet with AMON AMARTH bellower Johan Hegg, balladesque first then evolving into a right mid-tempo stomper. The captivating element of this track is definitely Hegg's low growls with Doro's high vocals. “Soldier Of Metal” is truly a power ballad in 6/8 time with orchestral bits and pieces and choired-up backing vocals. This track could come straight from any Andrew Lloyd Webber-style musical theatre composition. Not at all bad and certainly appealing if you don't mind cheesiness – and there is plenty of it in this song. Thank goodness “Turn It Up” brings back a much-needed dose of rock 'n' roll, which continues to in the following track “Blood, Sweat And Rock 'n' Roll”. “Don't Break My Heart Again” is a cover version of the stomping WHITESNAKE track on the Come An' Get It album, quite a faithful reproduction of the original song in a more modern sound. I'm always a bit scpetical when singers other than David Coverdale attempt to sing his songs and seldom have I heard cover versions that actually work. This one really does and is a sure candidate for the repeat button. “Love's Gone To Hell” is again a bit on the ballad-y side of music, featuring an intriguing piano part and a steady bass groove. However, it is the melody line that really does it for me – a convincing and sort of grown-up track that definitely stands out. “Freunde fürs Leben” (English: “Friends For Life”) is an uber-catchy earworm celebrating, you guessed it again, friendship for life. A bit too cheesy for my taste and, being a native speaker of German, I'm not at all sure about the German lyrics because they make the tacky subject of the song even tackier. The first part of Doro's double album concludes with another much-needed dose of heavy rock, which comes in the form of “Backstage To Heaven”, a real Doro signature metal groover. I like both the guitar lick ever so reminiscent of Eric Clapton's “Layla” and the sax solo.

Now on to the second part of the album, Forever United, which, as mentioned above, is meant to repesent Doro's emotional side and, given the amount of kitsch on the warrior album, I dread what might be coming next. However, I'm definitely in for a positive surprise. “Résistance” conjurs up revolution, a classic heavy metal track with lots of groove (kudos to bass player Nick Douglas) and a festival-compatible sing-along vocal line. Not entirely unexpectedly, “Lift Me Up” is an atmospheric power ballad whose chorus sounds ever so familiar that for a moment I thought it was a cover version of something. Having overcome my doubts, I find myself listening to it a second and a third time. Of the balladesque songs on this double release, this has been the best and most captivating so far. Next is “Heartbroken”, a straightforward rocker, a great song with top notch lead guitar parts. But those lyrics... “When you're heartbroken only love can heal / Love by someone who can really feel / Heartbroken and you're never free / You're heartbroken, I'm going on”. Can it get any tackier? It can and it does so right on the next track, “It Cuts So Deep”: “The first time you took my heart / Was the first time I walked through the dark”. Please!! Musically, however, this song is quite intriguing, actually. A bit of THE BEATLES, a dash of blues, an extremely catchy vocal line, a slow groove, heavy but warm-souding guitars and a generous dash of synth strings and there's your power ballad for you – if you're into this, of course. For me this is just a tad too much, so I'm grateful for the uptempo number “Love Is A Sin” with its classic heavy metal riffing – but still with lots of emotions. The anthem “Living Life To The Fullest”, inspired by and dedicated to Lemmy, comes along as a heavy mid-tempo track before it's time to get out the tissues again for “1000 Years”, yet another ballad, complete with acoustic guitar, a few piano chords and synth strings that builds up to a huge crescendo in the middle. The album finally gains momentum again with “Fight Through The Fire”, an energetic metal track that contains all the virtues you expect from a Doro rocker. The album concludes with the MOTORHEAD cover “Lost In the Ozone”.

The title of this double release, Forever Warriors, Forever United, aptly sums up what Doro – and to a certain extend metal – is all about. It shows Doro's wide range of musical expression, from neckbreaking up-tempo metal tracks to emotional, cheesy ballads, which have their raison d'être but which may not be everybody's cup of tea. Doro is unquestionably one of the leading female heavy metal vocalists and has been for the last 35 years. On Forever Warriors, Forever United she sounds as fresh as ever and so this double release may as well serve as a testimony of what Doro's music is all about: classic and melodic heavy metal tailored for live performances with a good dash of energy but also a certain amount of kitsch. It also features various guest appearances by Doug Aldrich ( WHITESNAKE, DIO, THE DEAD DAISIES) and Doro's former WARLOCK axeman Tommy Bolan. However, the present release also shows what I have always thought was the weak point in Doro's music. A fair bit of the songs come across as superficial, both lyrically and musically, and every now and again it is the reinforcement of rock clichés that I find off-putting.

Still, this is a release that will not only go down well with Doro fans and is recommended to anybody looking for classic hard rock and heavy metal songs. Here's to another 35 years!

3.7 Out Of 5.0

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