Dokken Hell To Pay Sanctuary Records
· Produced By: Dokken

· Running Time: 48.24

· Release Date: July 13

· Released: NA

· Musical Style: Melodic Hard Rock

· Links: Dokken Sanctuary
Songs: 89%
Sound: 89%
Much like the Scorpions with their excellent Unbreakable album, Dokken have given careful thought as to what fans want and expect.
Don Dokken and his cohorts have seemingly taken the advice given – that fans want a more traditional Dokken album - and added their own stamp of individuality to it, in an album that mixes classic Dokken with the more toned town stylings of recent efforts.
What we are left with is an album that remains dark and mainly mid-tempo, but returns to the sound the hard edged guitar playing that George Lynch so eloquently delivered.
New lad Jon Levin – who has long been part of Don Dokken's inner circle - is no stranger to Dokken or Lynch's style. His part in this album is not to be undervalued in any way – he rules this record.
Don Dokken's vocals are perfectly suited to the material on offer. In fact, I would suggest the material was written around Don's vocals and his current choice to sing at a lower octave than he did in his heyday. He no longer appears as powerful a singer, but still commands respect in the way he works within his abilities.
He sings somewhat within himself, but as I said, the writing style of the album allows this to still be appealing.
His delivery hasn't changed much from the band's last album Long Way Home, which caused much debate among some fans who found it too laid back.
So if Don hasn't changed – why is this album so much better and why will fans be very happy with the result? The answer is Jon Levin. While the material remains in the same vein of Long Way Home, the tone of the album and the guitar playing does not.
While it isn't Tooth And Nail or Under Lock And Key, this is a much heavier guitar driven record, filled with plenty of riffs and memorable solos.
Track By Track:
The Last Goodbye sets the album's tone. Mid-tempo, dark and as heavy as anything off Long Way Home. It's not the best track on the album, which is refreshing, but it's a solid start.
Don't Bring Me Down sees the band jump into double time for the first time in a while. This is a classic style Dokken rocker, with a great Lynch style guitar riff and classy soloing throughout.
Escape starts out slowly, but kicks into gear with a solid guitar riff. A melodic vocal flows over a slow slightly modern rock base, with a good chorus helping the song stand out.
Haunted brings the tempo back up a little and features some more fine guitar work. This is a good mid-tempo rocker, one that features a big fat rhythm section.
Prozac Nation is another album highlight. This is a crunchy hard rocker that reminds me of Sunless Days from the last album. I'm particularly impressed with the guitar riff and the mid-song solo.
Care for You is a great ballad which sees some varied use of electric/acoustic guitars in tandem with a piano and a very romantic orchestral feel.
Better Off Before gets things rocking again. Once again it's only mid-tempo, but Levin's guitar work is authorative and this slightly modern sounding rock track works well thanks to some catchy hooks.
Still I'm Sad is a slow to mid-tempo track – neither a ballad, nor a rocker. It's a dark, moody track that fits the tone of the record, but lifts thanks to a good chorus hook.
I Surrender is another dark and moody track and offers something different again. Another good chorus helps the track stand out and its overall dark vibe makes it a favourite with me.
Letter To Home sees Don dabble with his fascination for Beatlesque melodies. The verse is very Brit-pop, while the chorus is heavier. The song features a nice guitar solo.
Can You See closes the album in a more traditional Dokken vein, albeit, in the same laid back manner as the rest of the album. A solid mid-tempo rocker.
The bonus track on offer is a more stripped back version of Care for You, which essentially is the same track as earlier in the album, just with the lead guitar and rhythm sections removed. The strings and piano play the dominant role in this version.
The Bottom Line
A classy album - without doubt, the band's best album since my personal favourite – the self titled Japanese release Dokken from 1994. It's certainly the band's most consistent and traditional sounding release from their recent history. This album will please the majority of the band's long time fans. While it may not be as heavy or as uptempo as classic era, I believe it will still be rated rather highly.
Possibly the best album the band could have made under all current circumstances. Best played at loud volume to best appreciate the guitar work and the solid production value.
Discography / Previously Reviewed
· Breaking The Chains
· Tooth And Nail
· Under Lock And Key
· Back For The Attack
· Beast From The East
· Dokken
· Dysfunctional
· One Night Only
· Shadowlife
· Erase The Slate
· Live From The Sun
· Live '95
· Long Way Home
· Hell To Pay

Line Up
· Don Dokken: Vocals
· Jon Levin: Guitar
· Mick Brown: Drums
· Barry Sparks: Bass

Essential for fans of:
· Dokken - Long Way Home
· Dokken - Dokken
Track Listing
· The Last Goodbye
· Don't Bring Me Down*
· Escape*
· Haunted
· Prozac Nation*
· Care for You
· Better Off Before
· Still I'm Sad
· I Surrender*
· Letter to Home
· Can You See
· Care for You (Unplugged Version)
--*Best Tracks

24/05/06: jessekye -
Rating: 90
Dokken is great glad they still are trying to make good music. hope they keep on trying,love the new sound prozic nation great song escape got all that dokken soul in it,just one good cd.

07/08/05: Rich -
Rating: 80
This is not 80's era Dokken but thats just fine,this album shows that Dokken05 can still churn out great songs regardless of the evr changing musical climate and they always fit in.The band is a solid unit again thanx to the remarkable work of Barry Sparks and Jon Levin.It actually feels like a band recorded this and not a bunch of hired help.Great Stuff ,keep up the good work.

18/06/05: Big Mike -
Rating: 69
I'm a big dokken fan but after I originally heard the soundbytes here I wrote the album off as crap. Eventually I got hold of some more bytes from the second half of the album and was pleasantly surprised. I bought the album. I think the first 5 songs are pretty average with the exception of "haunted". But for the 80's melodic fan like me, the flipside holds much me value. "I surrender, care for you, better off b4 and Can you see" are all classy tracks. In the end I found it to be fair/good value when you compare it to other recent releases.

31/10/04: Umberto -
Rating: 92
Great album, the sound is very good and there's a great guitar work. Big return, Don!

30/09/04: Jon Fletcher -
Rating: 85
My original rating was higher, due to the fact that I hadn't given the record time to grow on me. I only listened to it the first month it was out. Since then I had the chance to see War & Peace play in Manchester,NN. (with my friends band, Jeff Richards Band, opening the show). I got the new record from them at the show. Sorry Mr.Dokken, but, Mr.Pilson's new one buries yours! Great start to finish!

08/09/04: Pieter -
Rating: 70
This is good CD BUT it doesn't come close to the Dysfunctional album which I consider a Classic. The problem is that a Dokken Album will never sound as you would like it to sound without George Lynch playing on it, putting his creativity into it. Jon Levin is a good guitar player but no matter how great the guitarist, he will always sound inferior when copying the style of Lynch, because There's ONLY ONE of that kind. That's why I prefer Erase the Slate above this album as well because Reb Beach left more of his own guitar style in the songs, which made it all sound less obligatory, without forgetting he is playing in Dokken instead of Winger.

After a great kick off with the first two songs the album tends to get a little boaring, somehow it all sounds a little the same, as if the band doesn't reach the point where they really get ready to rock. Bottom Line: a sufficient album but not more than that.

06/09/04: Withheld -
Rating: 97
I know, personally, that giving the Dokken fans what they love, was something Don took very seriously with this release. However, 20 years changes people, and there is also the element of not selling out on yourself as a writer. I like Levin's guitars. Very much. Reminiscent of Lynch, however, I like the Rectifer, dropped tuning. adds an element of modern rock with the classic Don melodies. I like it. This is a touch better than ETS, and... forgive me... Way better than Long Way Home or Dysfunctional. Much more thought, and feeling. There is nothing wrong with re-visiting the classic ideals in Mleodic Rock, and paying tribute to what IS cool with some of the newer sounds. I cannot stop listeneing to five of the tracks in particular. I love it, and I think it is a good effort from Dokken!

29/08/04: Hanuk Baac -
Rating: 90
I don't know if this is exactly the sequel to Tooth & Nail that Don Dokken promised, but at least the band is headed for the right direction. By far the best release since their reunion album Dysfuctional. Jon Levin is successfully capturing what is known as Rokken with Dokken sound, his guitar tone is very close to George Lynch has delieverd on Back for the Attack and he seems to be the right man for the job. Reb Beach and John Norum were both good guitarists but their tone and style weren't cut-out for Dokken's music. This album would've been much better with a few more uptempo rockers as Don also said that he wanted to add one more rocker but couldn't do it due to lack of time at studio, but still a good album.

28/08/04: Majestic Chronicles -
Rating: 90
Anyone who rates this CD and scores it under 85 is tone deaf. This CD rocks from beginning to end. A return to the classic sound, no, but who would really what that anyway? I prefer to see a band grow and experiment instead of rehashing old material just to please a few fans. This CD is a Top Notch winner, and deserves to be concidered one of the bands best releases. End of story.

23/08/04: scott -
Rating: 75
I agree with Andrew, this album is best played LOUD to appreciate the production value and guitar work. Still, I believe great songs sound great even when not played particularly loud and I think these songs are good, not great. No real big hooks to be found anywhere. A respectable effort, but not one of Dokken's best. I like Long Way Home a lot more!

06/08/04: jim gal -
Rating: 30
the disc sucks big time!!the only thing worth is the solos .what come bacjk and what return to classic sound?are you kidding?

06/08/04: Lynchomaniac -
Rating: 93
This album needed some time to "sonically blossom", but it was worth the wait. It sounds better than their former effort Long way home at least more like classic Dokken albums. There are some parts on the album that's almost a blueprint of former glory and I'm talking both riffs and grooves. I'm also certain that Jon Levin is a better guitarplayer for Dokken nowadays than John Norum, having said that I still say Norum is a better guitarplayer! Solowise I think that Norum is more inventive as I feel that all Levin does is trying to sound like Lynch but he doesn't quite succeed. Riffwise the story is quite different, he sounds smashing! Don's vocals is a bit laidback, and I wish that he used more of his capacity than he does. But it's a damn good album nontheless!

06/08/04: Freddy De Keyzer -
Rating: 75
This is a decent comeback from the guys from Dokken (in fact from Don himself). Far better than their latest releases, but not on the same level as with Back For The Attack, Tooth And Nail etc. Mr. Levin does a nice job, but he's no mr. Lynch.
Dokken without Lynch will never be the same !
But this is rather good.

06/08/04: Longtime Boston Fan -
Rating: 90
Great to see the "real" Dokken fans come out after several pathetic attempts by "anti-Dokkenites" at shooting down this very well written & produced effort.
This is a very good CD. The fast tempo "Don't bring me down" is IMO the best fast song ever by Dokken with "Escape" & "Prozac Nation" making this a classic Dokken sounding album. "Care for you" disapoints me by ending too soon, but if there is a full band version, then it should be pretty good.
Dysfunctional had a very good sound, but this effort has more variety and just plain kicks ass production wise.
Don Dokken is Dokken and every authentic fan knows this. He proved this with his "Up from the Ashes" release and does it again here.
This album is right up there with Pink Cream 69's "Thunderdome", & Ten's "Return to Evermore" as one of the best releases of the year.
Yeah, I put "Back for the Attack" up ahead of this one but it is the best Dokken we've been graced with in the last 10 years with an aging Don sounding as good as ever with excellent guitar work surrounding him.
Pure Dokken my friends....CRANK THIS BABY UP!

02/08/04: dissapointed -
Rating: 5
I recently saw DOKKEN and co on this tour. I will admit that they were like a well oiled machine and tighter then ive seen the band in ages. AMAZING SHOW! Problem is it didnt gel the same in the studio. I have to say im honestly shocked how people say this album is so great. I think people are loving it because they were told its old school dooken. When it is so the opposite. There is no TOOTH N NAIL or BREAKING THE CHAINS or TO HIGH TO FLY on this album anywhere. I think LONG WAY HOME and even ERASE THE SLATE had more to offer for the fans that grave old school fist flying dokken. My girlfriend who is a major die hard didnt enjoy the cd. Everyone says , oh it has to grow on you. WHY? If its good you should love it the second you hear it. This album is a major letdown. How can you praise a album that is 90% midtempo like songs. I d rather take a contrived album like SLATE then this release. HELL TO PAY IS RIGHT...someone should have hell to pay for releasing this.

31/07/04: Ron Jeremy -
Rating: 45
Don is ruining Dokken. Dokken no longer sounds like Dokken, it sounds like a Don Dokken solo project. Don calls the shots & there lies the problem. The killer riffs & solos are no more. The fast tempos, all but gone. The guitars tunned down to D for a nu-metal vibe. This isn't classic Dokken as promised. It's just aimless fodder from ego maniac Don. Swallow your pride Don & get Reb back. Dokken can't live thru another weak release like this.

23/07/04: mike -
Rating: 93
A great cd, I haven't been able to get this out of my cd player. What a great surprise Jon Levin is. I have been a fan since "Breaking the Chains" & I still think Don's voice is still one of the best. A must buy for sure.

23/07/04: Ralph -
Rating: 40
I have been a Dokken fan since 1984 when they released Tooth & Nail, and having been disappointed with their average-at-best cd's since Back For The Attack (which was their best record IMO).

This record is the 2nd worst ever (with Dysfunctional being the worst). I almost fell asleep at the wheel listening to the opening track "The Last Goodbye", and unfortunately, the album doesn't really get much better from there. Even stellar guitar playing from John Levin can't keep this disc in the CD player!

Why is it that these older bands go out on tour, play all the old stuff live and the crowd goes nuts. Then they get in the studio and write stuff that doesn't come close to resembling the old stuff? Do they just lack the fire since they're not 20 yr. old punks anymore?

22/07/04: Roy -
Rating: 95
This is a fabulous CD ! I think Dokken has produced their best effort since Back for the Attack. I hear pieces from Back for the Attack, Dysfunctional, Erase the Slate and even Long Way Home. Great mixture of songs. I think Jon Levin brings a dark side to Dokken and Don has always had that dark feel as well. I have been a long time and loyal Dokken fan ever since I saw the video for "Breaking the chains". I couldn't wait to get this CD. Let me break down the disc for you.....

The CD opens with "The last goodbye" which does set the dark tone for the CD. Good song, not great , but good.

Track 2 , "Don't bring me down " sends me back to 1989....reminescent of Back for the Attack days. Great energetic , upbeat rocker. Blazing guitar work by Levin. A+

" Escape " turns out to be one of my favorite songs. Again, Back for the Attack flashback. Reminds me of "heaven sent".

"Haunted" keeps jumping out at me as the best song on this disc. Again, I see a sound for Back for the Attack. Sounds a lot like "cry of the gypsy or sleepless nights". Great melodies. Excellent job, Don.

I hear Beatlesque harmonies and melodies on "Prozac Nation". Ballsy tune with a great hook. Excellent tightness on the guitar. Great song. Another CD highlight.

"Care for you" is a great ballad. Keeling has really helped Don on this one. Heartfelt and should make those ladies melt. I can see the Bic lighters floating now.

"Better off before" has a great guitar riff. I like it. This is a mid-tempo rocker that has great guitar changes. Don's voice is more adventurous on this one. He shows that he still has it.

"Still I'm sad" has shown how much Dokken has matured over the years. Great sounding guitars again. Also has a great hook on the chorus. Sounds very 80's during the chorus. This is one of the better written songs.

"I surrender" has been getting more and more play from me recently. This song is really growing on me. It may be my favorite eventually. This one sounds like something from "Under lock and Key". Great song.

" Letter to home" has a Zeppelin-like guitar riff but then also has sounds of the Beatles to it. Just an ok song. It's a change from the rest of the CD. Sounds like a Dysfunctional reject.

"Can you see" sounds like Lynch is playing. This sounds like something from "Under lock and Key". Great song. Don sounds awesome on this song.

The CD closes with a soft acoustic version of "Care for you". Nice finish.

This CD is fantastic and I rank this one up there just below Under lock and Key and Back for the Attack. Not as good as those 2 but is ever bit as good as Tooth and Nail. Best CD they have produced since Back for the Attack.

By the way, you can download this entire CD for less than $10 on

20/07/04: Dale Rethke -
Rating: 45
This is sadly another let down from the Dokken Guys!
How can anyone remotely compare this to Lock and Key,Back for the attack!!
Not even close to the old gold of days gone by.
Do not buy!!

19/07/04: John Elway -
Rating: 78
This record is defintely solid. The songs are well constructed and the playing is fantastic. However, I am a bit dissapointed with it. With a title like "Hell to Pay", I expected a hard rocking disc in the vein of the fantastic "Erase the Slate." Unfortunately, the album is bogged down with too many slow and mid-tempo tunes to make it a classic. Not a bad album at all, but I was expecting more.

17/07/04: Luke -
Rating: 90
Great return to form. It Brought back memories of being 17 and buying "Back for the Attack" . There is nothing better than a classic band producing the goods again. It is clear that John Levin has given Don a kick up the pants with his song writing. I love the groove created on the track "haunted".
The album is best played loud!!!

16/07/04: Anthony Ricapito -
Rating: 90
I just brought the new Dokken album and it rocks. Haunted is one of my favorite songs on the album. Can't wait to see them at Mulcahy's in Wantagh Long Island July 17. With all the crap thats out their nowadays at least Dokken still know how to rock.

15/07/04: Afonso Carlos Sousa -
Rating: 70
Come on Folks!!..this a good album with good solos, but Don's voice is not the same as in Under Lock & Key or Back for the Attack. The songs are ok..but John Levin is a pure copy from George Lynch..that's all...

14/07/04: Jon Fletcher -
Rating: 92
Rokken with Dokken! This is the record they should have made to follow up DYSFUNCTIONAL. If they had done this disc back then, I believe they would've regained some of their former glory. This is by far the best album they've done since ERASE THE SLATE. I did enjoy LONG WAY HOME, but this album smokes! I just saw them play in Hartford, Conn. on July 11, 2004! Don's voice was the best I've heard since I first saw them in '99. As for Mick and Barry? They are a killer rhythm section. I believe they are one of the best out there. And the new guy, Jon Levin. My question is, GEORGE LYNCH WHO? So far my favorite disc this year next to the new Ariangale.

07/07/04: David Simpkins -
Rating: 97
WOW! This one ROCKS! What a great release. As a long time Dokken fan, I must say this is my favorite CD in years. Great work guys. Don sounds great, Jon rocks, Mick's on and Barry is blonde! "Just kidding Barry". Barry kicks ass and is a hell of a nice guy. Can't wait to see these guys live July 10 at Jaxx Nightclub, Springfield. Va. ROKKEN WITH DOKKEN

06/07/04: Eduardo Ruivo -
Rating: 90
All I can say is that the official review really states the whole truth. This is a great album, Jon Levin is the right guy (thanks Don for convincing him to play guitar again). My favorites are Escape(brilliant), The Last Goodbye, I Surrender (unfortunately, only 3 minutes) and Prozac Nation. Don, you're a great voice! DOKKEN'ROLL

06/07/04: Cristian Pavez -
Rating: 98
One of the best album of the year!!!!
Dokken back for the attack in 2004 with an excellent and solid album. The guitar of Jon Levin sounds more into George Lynch style than the George Lynch himself!!!
This album have the old roots with classic Dokken sound but totally into 2004 sound: Great production, great vocals, great lead guitars and the most important: Great songs!!!
I really love this album. Rokkin with Dokken is back!!

06/07/04: whiplash1972 -
Rating: 92
Ok, I’m not going to say that Dokken are “back for the attack”, or that they’ve fought their way back “tooth and nail”, but I will say that “Hell to Pay” is a damn fine effort.

While the press release from Sanctuary Records states that “Hell to Pay” is a return to the classic Dokken sound found on “Tooth & Nail”, and “Back For the Attack”, that’s a bit misleading. What we have here, is a CD that does indeed feature several cuts that are a definite throwback to those discs, but also features some more modern sounding tracks, that are still unmistakably Dokken. I would compare it to what Tesla has achieved with their latest effort, “Into the Now”.

Track by track:

“The Last Goodbye”
Unfortunately, the CD opens with what I consider to be one of the weakest tracks of the bunch. I’m not one of those people who think that the best track on the CD should be the lead song, but it should be one of the better tracks to set the proper mood for the rest of the CD. This is a mid-tempo rocker, that does feature a memorable chorus, but the main highlight here is Jon Levin’s guitar solo. Not a bad song, but just not as strong as the rest of the CD in my opinion.

“Don’t Bring Me Down”
This one smokes! A kickass, hard rocker that brings to mind classic Dokken tunes such as “Tooth & Nail”, or “Kiss of Death”. This song will be a lot of people’s favorite tune from the disc, and that’s entirely understandable! Once again, as is exhibited throughout the disc, Levin’s guitar work shines.

The first single from “Hell to Pay” is a very good, grinding mid-tempo rocker. It’s a shame that the boys most likely won’t be doing a video for this song, as the lyrics lend themselves to many, many ideas. VERY catchy chorus here…

While it doesn’t rock quite as hard as “Don’t Bring Me Down”, this is another throwback to the classic 80s Dokken sound, that would’ve also fit nicely on 99’s “Erase the Slate”.The more I hear this one, the more I like it. From what I understand, this one will be featured on their current tour very soon!

“Prozac Nation”
Listen to this song, and then throw the Beatles “Eleanor Rigby” in, and compare the melody of the verses. This is obviously Don’s way of paying homage to one of his favorite bands, the Beatles. This is a great tune, with verses and hooks that will stick in your head immediately, as well as some killer bass work laid down by Barry Sparks. My personal favorite!

“Care For You”
The lone ballad on the CD. While I will say that it pales when compared with classics like “Alone Again”, “Walk Away”, and even “Nothing Left to Say”, it has grown on me the more I’ve listened. I do, however, prefer the un-plugged version, which is featured as a bonus track.

“Better Off Before”
Another strong rocker featuring the classic Dokken sound; very good song.

“Still I’m Sad”
A mid-tempo, more modern sounding song, which once again features some very strong bass work from Barry.
Much like “The Last Goodbye”, this isn’t a bad song, but I find it to be one of the weaker cuts on the CD.

“I Surrender”
Don’s vocal work sets a very dark, brooding tone for this song that works beautifully alongside Levin’s lead guitar work. A mid-tempo rocker that features a very memorable chorus; one of my faves!

“Letter to Home”
Slow rocker, which again features some obvious Beatles influence.
Beautiful vocals from Don, nice bass line from Barry, and more impressive work from Levin combine nicely with the always rock solid drum sound of the wildman, Mick Brown.

“Can You See”
A modern sounding mid-tempo rocker, with a catchy chorus that will stick with you immediately; another highlight from this fine CD.

“Care For You” (Un-plugged Version)
I prefer this version to the electric one found earlier on the disc. If you’ve heard the orchestral version of “Nothing Left to Say”, or the grand piano arrangement for “Slippin’ Away”, and like them, then you should enjoy this one as well. Beautiful version of this song!

Overall impressions:

While the CD isn’t 100% “classic” Dokken, it is still one helluva good CD, that features a mix of rockers, mid-tempo songs, and a nice ballad that should offer something for longtime Dokken fans, as well as any newer fans who are just discovering the band.
I do feel the disc would benefit from a slight shuffling of the track order, and of course, Jeff Pilson’s backing vocals are missed, but overall, an extremely strong effort, and one of the better hard rock releases this year. All four performers shine at various times on this CD, but the one constant throughout, is the superb guitar work from new Dokken axeman, Jon Levin.

Pick this one up PRONTO; you will NOT regret it!

ADD YOUR OWN REVIEW! (Ratings out of 100)