Dokken - Shadowlife

edited November 2022 in Year-1997


ARTIST: Dokken
ALBUM: Shadowlife
LABEL: CMC International
SERIAL: CMC 06076-86210-2
YEAR: 1997


LINEUP: Don Dokken - vocals * George Lynch - guitar * Jeff Pilson - bass * Mick Brown - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Puppet On A String * 02 Cracks In The Ground * 03 Sky Beaneath My Feet * 04 Until I Know * 05 Hello * 06 Convenience Store Messiah * 07 I Feel * 08 Here I Stand * 09 Hard To Believe * 10 Sweet Life * 11 Bitter Regret * 12 I Don't Mind * 13 Until I Know (Slight Return)



When grunge took over the market place in the 90's it was commonplace for one time 80's hard rock acts to jump ship and adopt the miserable tones of that genre as they struggled to survive.

None of them were convincing (Warrant, Bullet Boys, L.A. Guns etc) and to anybody present during that period it was a fairly dire rock scene, dominated by the likes of Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains ad nauseam.

One of the worst offenders was Dokken, who had reformed a couple of years earlier with their 'classic' lineup and delivered the sub-par 'Dysfunctional' in 1995.

As most are aware the age-old tensions between Dokken and Lynch resurfaced almost immediately and this resulted in the disgrace known as 'Shadowlife'. If the recently reviewed 'Pure Instinct' by The Scorpions was that bands worst effort, then this makes it look like somewhat of a minor masterpiece.

Although I've never been a Dokken fanatic I recall giving this a spin at the record store in 1997, desperate for anything resembling a credible hard rock album that year. I wondered what this atrocity was, grunge and misery of the highest order, a calamity that seemed impossible to believe.

Dokken has blamed Lynch for hijacking the album and purposely directing it in this manner to implode the band. If that's true then he succeeded, because you'll never hear anything as woeful as this, or as boring and insipid.

The Songs

Enduring this some 17 years later is almost as painful as it was back then. Even the cover is amateurish and cheap, with the band signed to indie label CMC who had a monopoly on faded 80's bands at the time (Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Accept..).

All the songs are dreary and cheap grunge imitations with absolutely nothing resembling their 80's work. And when I say 'nothing' that's as comprehensive as it gets.

One farcical track is 'Bitter Regret' which is obviously a clone of The Cult, with Dokken doing his best to sound like Ian Astbury.

The dull 'I Don't Mind' is a tuneless disaster, where Soundgarden's another easy reference point for a band who should have stayed on the sidelines.

The pretentiously titled 'Convenience Store Messiah' is an acoustic bore, taking after Nirvana, which surely by 1997 was outmoded.

Someone forgot to tell Dokken however, because every track is an alternative dirge, with tuned-down guitar work, vocal harmonies from grown men sounding suicidal and quasi-Beatles melodies with psychedelic leanings.

If Lynch was the one who was trying to stay 'current' with younger bands, then he was totally off the mark. Most observers claim it was the influence of producer Kelly Gray that nudged him towards this.

Then again if Dokken himself thought this was so bad, why did he go along with this? Maybe these guys thought it would be an unexpected hit, but that's unlikely.

Listen to the drudgery of 'Cracks In The Ground' and you'll feel a sense of despair immediately. If I had a physical copy of this album it would have been thrown out decades ago.

In Summary

This album alienated Dokken fans everywhere and to this day I've never read a positive review of this album.

If the intent was to turn their fading fan base against them then it can be considered a success in that area.

What angered me most at the time was yet another band disowning their 80's roots in search of a modern sound they had no business flirting with.

Dokken haven't put a single album out since that's resonated with me, even after Lynch left once more.

There's no escaping an album this monumentally tragic and Dokken as average as they were to begin with, essentially committed suicide by releasing this laughable stain of an album.

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