Heavy Song of the Week: Dokken Evoke Their ’80s Hair Metal Heyday on “Fugitive”

Much had been made of the long-running feud between Don Dokken and ex-Dokken guitarist George Lynch. Despite releasing some of the best glam-metal albums of the ’80s — Tooth and Nail and Under Lock and KeyDokken (the band) were embroiled in dysfunction for much of the era. A reunion in the mid-’90s didn’t fare much better (the band literally titled its 1995 album Dysfunctional), even if the music remained a cut above.

Don Dokken and Lynch eventually went their separate ways, with the former continuing on with his eponymous band and the latter starting his own outfit, The Lynch Mob. The pair have since mended fences, with Lynch even performing with Dokken in recent years, although he hasn’t rejoined the band.

Although their rate of output has slowed, Dokken (the band) returned this week with an excellent single, “Fugitive” — the first true new music from the group in over a decade. Guitarist Jon Levin’s exuberant axework is reminiscent of Dokken’s glory days, and Don himself sounds strong and confident vocally, even if he can’t hit those glass-shattering high notes like he used to.

For the singer, this new material is also another way to move further and further away from his band’s rocky past.

“I’m so tired of hearing about the fighting and the ‘this’ and ‘that’… this is about a new record, a new record with my new band,” Don declared. “It’s been a long process, but at the end of the day, I think we have lightning in a bottle.”

Honorable Mentions:

Cannibal Corpse – “Summoned for Sacrifice”

Another filthy grinder from the death-metal masters. It’s as if the chords and arrangement were calculated specifically to keep the moshpits churning, with breakdowns and tempo changes piggy-backing off one another in a cascade of brutality. At this point, we know what we’re getting when we get new Cannibal Corpse, but their formula for death metal has proven itself timeless. More, please!

cEvin Key – “House Tried to KILL ME”

Skinny Puppy founder cEvin Key has opened his personal archives via the ongoing “Back and Forth” series. His latest offering from the vaults is an instrumental gem, taking us back to the mid-’80s, to the house where Skinny Puppy’s Bites was recorded, to cEvin hunched over a 4-track machine, dabbling with drum machines and synthesizers. In the musician’s own words, it’s a true “time capsule” of Skinny Puppy’s formative years.

Mantar – “Valhalla Hammering”

Per Mantar vocalist/guitarist Hanno Klänhardt, “Valhalla Hammering” was a track that was purposefully left off the German sludge band’s last album. Klänhardt wanted to keep the song in his pocket, to unleash it after the album cycle had died down “in order to present something completely different as a next move.” A savvy bit of artistry: The seven-minute banger is definitely a change up, injecting Mantar’s riffy brand of sludge metal with moments of drone and doom. It’s less direct and more conceptual, making it an ideal choice for a one-off single — a refreshing aside from the band’s past work.