Return To The East Live 2016

(Frontiers Records)

      As a 'long-time' Dokken enthusiast, my fascination with the Los Angeles, California-born group began with the inclusion of “Dream Warriors” on the hit A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warrior (1987) soundtrack. Although I soon found myself enthralled amid the release of the multi-Platinum Back For The Attack and the in-concert testament Beast From The East (released in 1987 and 1988, respectively), the group's untimely demise left me only wanting for more. Temporarily finding solace amid the solo debut of Don Dokken Up From The Ashes (1990) and Wicked Sensation (1990) from the George Lynch-fueled Lynch Mob, (both “When Love Finds A Fool” and “River Of Love” have remained in heavy rotation), I still found myself wanting more. Now, nearly a quarter of a century after their all-too-brief comeback Dysfunctional (1995), I once again find myself utterly intrigued by the long-overdue Return To The East Live 2016, the group's latest and greatest audiovisual offering.

      On the brilliant Return To The East Live 2016 (2018), an expertly assembled fifteen song collection of in-concert Hard Rock and Heavy Metal (taken, as the title suggests, from the group's October 2016 performance at Loud Park festival, held annually at Saitama Super Arena in Saitama City or Makuhari Messe in Chiba City, Japan), each track, beginning with the razor-sharp riff fest “Kiss Of Death” the slick, unabashedly AOR-fueled “The Hunter” and the breathlessly melodic treatise “Unchain The Night”, immediately commands the rapt and undivided attention of all parties involved, myself most definitely included. Understandably focusing almost entirely on the weight of their catalog, the group drives home each key focal point with near-lethal precision. Effortlessly obliterating the few misguided souls still doubtful of their ability to persevere despite the less-than-amicable nature of their personal/working relationships, the group flexes their 'creative muscles' early and often.

      Continuing with the delightfully swaggering “When Heaven Comes Down” the quasi-fist-pumping anthem “Breaking The Chains” and the emotionally-overwrought “Into The Fire”, the newly-rejuvenated (temporarily, at least) combination of vocalist/rhythm guitarist Don Dokken, lead guitarist George Lynch (Lynch Mob, KXM, Sweet & Lynch), bassist Jeff Pilson (Dio, Foreigner, MSG) and drummer 'Wild' Mick Brown (Lynch Mob, Ted Nugent, T&N) steamroll ahead like the well-oiled machine they are so obviously capable of reverting to. Wisely showcasing their more than considerable Glam/'Hair Metal' roots, the group unleashes an initial sonic assault that delivers the proverbial goods. Offering die-hard completists and clueless newcomers alike the opportunity to partake in bulk of their arguably finest moments, the group transcends their oft-checkered post-Lynch eras via a suspiciously well-rehearsed array of soaring vocals, blistering fretworks and imaginatively punishing rhythms.

      Produced and Mixed by the dream team tandem of Pilson and the acclaimed Bob Daspit (Chickenfoot, Hans Zimmer, Sammy Hagar), other standouts, including the maddeningly infectious lamentation “Alone Again” the previously-mentioned gem “Dream Warriors” and the obligatory--yet highly-effective--“In My Dreams”, are seemingly guaranteed to further cement the group's classic line-up as a bona fide creative and commercial force not to be ignored. Fortified throughout by the blistering new studio track “It's Another Day” (the first all-new material to feature the group's classic line-up since Shadowlife, 1997) and acoustic 'Bonus Track' variations of “Heaven Sent” and “Will The Sun Rise”, the end result(s) are nothing short of extraordinary. While it remains unclear if the group's attempts to recapture the lightning in a bottle chemistry of yore will still prove successful above and beyond this particular sonic endeavor, their once unsure destiny has become increasingly illuminated.

      But is it really that good? Absolutely! While not necessarily on par with the group's halcyon days of yore, (most notably the multi-Platinum '84 - '87 trifecta of Tooth And Nail, Under Lock And Key and Back For The Attack), the majority--if not all--of the decidedly hook-laden wares contained herein effectively document their already much-celebrated penchant for Pop-fueled histrionics. Even if you understandably find yourself less than enthralled with the group's 'one and done' approach to re-uniting their most recognizable and successful line-up, one must, at the very least, sincerely admire their already much-celebrated ability to create lastingly memorable material. Accordingly, if you've once again found yourself in search of a nostalgia-inducing trip own memory lane that doesn't involve wholeheartedly embracing an morbidly obese expanse of spandex-clad Velveeta, then this, my friends, might just be the high octane antidote for what ails you. Trust me, you will not be disappointed.

Select Discography

Return To The East Live 2016 (2018)

Broken Bones (2012)

Lightning Strikes Again (2008)

Hell To Pay (2004)

Long Way Home (2002)

Live From The Sun (2000)

The Very Best Of Dokken (1999)

Erase The Slate (1999)

Shadowlife (1997)

One Night Live (1996)

Dysfunctional (1995)

Beast From The East (1988)

Back For The Attack (1987)

Under Lock And Key (1985)

Tooth And Nail (1984)

Breaking The Chains (1983)

Back In The Streets (EP (1979)

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