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Review of the Album Shadowlife by American Hard Rock Band Dokken

Updated on June 27, 2020
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Ara is a Journalism graduate from California State University Northridge who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

Dokken was once a shadow of what they were musically with the album Shadowlife and this photo represents just that.
Dokken was once a shadow of what they were musically with the album Shadowlife and this photo represents just that. | Source

There Are Two Major Reasons Why Shadowlife Is Such a Terrible Album

Dokken was famous for being one of those 1980s hard rock bands that had songs that fans could universally enjoy and sing along with. They had songs that had melody, meaning, and they made sense from a structural standpoint for the most part. However, even with an early look at their 1997 studio album Shadowlife, I see at least in its early stages an album that has no musical cohesiveness and Don Dokken's vocals are a mere shadow of what they used to be. Hence, the album's title Shadowlife is appropriate. If Dokken wanted to accelerate their demise and become a mere shadow of what they once were then this album accomplishes just that. For those that say Metallica screwed up with their late 1990s material like Load or Re-Load what is offered on Shadowlife is even worse. You might be thinking why are you so harsh on these guys?


One Example of Why the Musical Formula on Shadowlife Does Not Work

The song Until I Know starts with some feedback kind of noise and then out of the blue, acoustic guitar takes over but does this formula work? No it does not work here because it feels so out of place musically. Hard rock was never one of my biggest likes with some notable exceptions but even this album would be looked at with disbelief, disgust, and possibly scorn even by fans who are not as much into hard rock.

How Is the Rest of the Album Shadowlife?

The first song Puppet on a String starts off like this sort of heavy hard rock kind of song but the first time I even checked this one out, I just shook my head in disbelief. Don Dokken tries to sound melodic but he fails at it. He was some middle aged rock star that was trying to regain his glory days but these vocals aren't anything like we have heard from him before. Cracks In the Ground lyrically tries to bring across the message that in life we should take a walk outside and leave our past behind. But is it really that easy to just leave your past behind? And the lyrics are out of place in this song as well. Imagination questions what is real? That doesn't make any sense because as Albert Einstein famously said, imagination can take you anywhere and our subconscious minds cannot tell the difference between what is real and what is imaginary. What were these guys even thinking when they wrote the lyrics? Hello starts with some dirty guitar tone and these guys are trying to sound like some nu-metal band and it doesn't fit this album or this band. What does it mean when he says “hello death how do you do?” How does a drink of water ease a person's pain if they are near death? Convenience Store Messiah is a song that consists entirely of acoustic guitar and this is a ballad, not something that Dokken is even known for and the melodic attempt by Don Dokken at singing is tried again. If Dokken wanted to get more experimental they did that with this album. 1995's Dysfunctional wasn't that good of an album but Shadowlife is even worse. I Feel continues in the style of Dokken trying to write songs using melodic style vocals and lyrics which don't make any sense. Here I Stand is a song lyrically about trying to get started with a new life after letting go of your most disgraceful moments. Like a child that has grown into an adult, Shadowlife represents the most frustrated moment musically for this famous Los Angeles hard rock band that has been active since even before I was born. Listening to this album sort of feels like it is torture trying to make it through because it is so bad. Usually at the later stages of any album, if there are no good songs on it then it usually means that the album is one of the worst of its kind.



Final Thoughts About Shadowlife

Shadowlife is the last album to have guitarist George Lynch and I don't think that this is the way that he wanted to finish his career with Dokken. Bitter Regret is another ballad song that is about love. Lyrically the song is about someone that does not want to leave the love of his life. It is not over yet and he tells her that they have to get over their past. However, this still leaves me looking for something more inspiring which is not found here in this song. It is at best an average love ballad song. I Don't Mind is a messy, distorted rock song about someone walking through the desert feeling lonely and calling out the name of his lover to no avail. Shadowlife really has no redeeming moments musically as this is just an incoherent mess. It is Dokken we are reviewing here and I would like to say that there is something good about this album but there really isn't.

© 2020 Ara Vahanian

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