Dokken - Breaking The Chains Review

Dokken - Breaking The Chains
Dokken - Breaking The Chains.

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Dokken was always seen as second-tier to the rest of the glam metal bands that dominated the airwaves in the ‘80s. Multiple albums went platinum, but they were never #1 on Billboard or had many chart-topping hits. Dokken grinded out a respectful career, overshadowed by building tensions between vocalist Don Dokken and guitarist George Lynch.

That rivalry tore the band apart, though they went through the cycle of reforming and switching line-ups in the ‘90s.

Before all of that madness would engulf Dokken, they were just another unknown prospect looking for glory with their first album, Breaking The Chains.

Breaking The Chains was originally released overseas in 1981, taking two years to find its way to the U.S. The track listing is different between the two, including a live version of “Paris Is Burning” added to the U.S. version as a closing track. This live take is raw, but one of the most accomplished pieces due to Lynch’s fantastic opening solo and the whole aura of a live atmosphere boosting the energy quotient.

Without the benefit of a crisp production and polished studio equipment, Breaking The Chains sounds loose and jumbled. There are hints of the band’s skill at writing catchy metal jams on the title track and “I Can’t See You.” The title track is the best known song from this album, and it’s a stirring anthem that suffers from the “can’t top the opening song” syndrome that has haunted mainstream music to this day.

There isn’t much in the way of variety on Dokken’s first time out. They do avoid writing cheesy ballads, a generic feature that popped up on their next few records. Lynch’s solos do make these ten songs more bearable than they have any right to be, especially with the duds “Young Girls” and “Nightrider.” Dokken himself does just fine on vocals.

His high notes on “Seven Thunders” are sweet on the ears, and he appears to have confidence on his side.

Except for the title track, and the occasional encore of “Paris Is Burning,” Dokken have ignored this album for years on the live circuit. Breaking The Chains is one of the weaker Dokken albums, with a few filler tracks in the middle, but there are some memorable anthems in “I Can’t See You” and “Stick To Your Guns” that deserve better appreciation. Breaking The Chains set up Dokken’s first big breakthrough in Tooth And Nail. For being an unassuming start to an underrated career, Breaking The Chains gets the nod for this week’s Retro Recommendation.

“Breaking The Chains” Video

Dokken - Breaking The Chains Track Listing

1. Breaking The Chains
2. In The Middle
3. Felony
4. I Can't See You
5. Live To Rock (Roll To Live)
6. Nightrider
7. Seven Thunders
8. Young Girls
9. Stick To Your Guns
10. Paris Is Burning (Live)

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