To refer to Doro Pesch as one of the original Metal sirens is hardly to give her her due. While certainly one of the first women to build a high profile in Metal, she is more than a lilting beauty – for 35 years, she’s shown she has every bit the power and attitude of her contemporaries such as Rob Halford and Lemmy Kilmister. Pesch’s new double album, the 20th album of her career, is no exception. ‘Forever Warriors / Forever United’ comprises two discs, the first being a beast of heavier tracks, and the second softer and more reflective – though there is a bit of crossover between the two.
The first disc ‘Forever Warriors’ opens with Pesch’s manifesto All for Metal, with the crunchy riffs immediately evoking an arena rock feel and bringing to mind the likes of Judas Priest and Guns ‘n’ Roses. This track features a veritable rogues’ gallery of guests, including Mille Petrozza (Kreator), Chuck Billy (Testament), Sabaton and the late Warrel Dane (Nevermore). With powerful bass below the riffs courtesy of Nick Douglas, there is a depth of sound and crispness to the production that lends modern clarity to the classic sound Pesch and her band present.
The next track continues to evoke Judas Priest, with some very ‘Screaming for Vengeance’ style riffing, and reverberating bass. The attitude is heavier in this song however, with Pesch’s voice the least Priest thing about the song as she eschews high Metal screams for raw power.
Things get even heavier in If I Can’t Have You – No One Will, which opens with Pesch’s snarling whisper that is reminiscent of Maria Brink in its dark possessiveness. Amongst slow guitar and creeping bass riffs, guest vocalist Johan Hegg of Amon Amarth makes his entrance, reciprocating Pesch’s appearance on the recent Amon Amarth album, ‘Jomsviking.’ If I Can’t Have You makes a fitting companion piece to A Dream that Cannot Be, while Hegg’s voice works surprisingly well on this song that isn’t exactly brutal, despite its heavy attitude.
Soldier of Metal is a surprisingly slow and dramatic track for the heavier disc, showcasing the softer side of Pesch’s voice. There’s even a touch of Cherie Currie there, while the background symphonic elements are a little reminiscent of Led Zeppelin. Turn it Up on the other hand is pure rocking Metal in the style of modern Alice Cooper, including riffs that provide a definite nod to the 70s. Indeed, this track includes one of the cooler and more prominent guitar solos until deeper into the double album.
Blood, Sweat and Rock ‘n’ Roll is a dirty, grooving, Hollywood rock track in the style often emulated by The 69 Eyes. This fast, chunky rock evokes American highways, and is very anthemic with its great lead guitars provided by Luca Princiotta and Bas Maas.
Don’t Break my Heart Again is another slightly more downbeat song, though still filled with big, pumping guitars. Essentially the song feels like 80s Kinks, dramatic and heavy rock bringing to mind the classic films of the same era.
Soft piano and Pesch’s plaintive vocals introduce Love’s Gone to Hell, a softer and more emotional song for this disc, but also one of the strongest on the album. The Metal riffs don’t distract at all from the emotion, with the dark and downbeat atmosphere seeming like it would fit a HIM song well. This is contrasted by Freunde Furs Leben, which is one of the weakest songs on the album. There is an interesting swing to the riffs, but despite the fact that German is Pesch’s native language, there is something that just doesn’t feel comfortable about it. Perhaps it’s simply the style that doesn’t sit well.
The first disc closes with the chunky, driving classic Metal of Backstage to Heaven. The song is big and catchy, with prominent bass at the root of the track and surprise saxophones that fit in quite well.
The second disc, ‘Forever United,’ showcases Pesch’s softer and more emotive side, but there is still plenty of power behind it. Disc opener Resistance is in fact suggestive of a riot or uprising before Pesch’s voice kicks in with the word “Resistance” drawled in the French accent. With chunky riffs, simple, direct drumming from Johnny Dee, the song is pumping, rousing and inspirational.
Lift me Up is a much softer song, shining a light on the gentle, loving side of Pesch. Soft guitars and piano pick up into dramatic riffs in the chorus, with the whole song taking on a climactic and stirring aspect through the deep emotion in Pesch’s voice.
Things are a step more upbeat with the driving riffs and almost lead presence of the bass in Heartbroken, which also includes some of the best solos on the album. The momentum however falls over with It Cuts so Deep the first song across the double album to unfortunately sound rather twee, much like Cherie Currie’s early solo work following The Runaways.
Love is a Sin kicks it back up a few notches and delivers the classic Pesch attitude, with overtones of 80s rocking Metal. At the same time, the track is somehow almost wistful.
The intensely dramatic Living Life to the Fullest is a fitting tribute to Pesch’s dear friend, the late Lemmy Kilmister. Massive riffs emanate from tuned down guitars, with the guitar solo front and centre alongside piano accompaniment.
1,000 Years is quiet and reflective, while Fight Through the Fire is deep and heavy, though the latter does at the same time feel a little bare. Douglas’ bass drives the track, but there just doesn’t seem to be much going on with the guitars.
The album closes with the Motorhead cover Lost in the Ozone, relatively slow and reflective, but definitely powerful. Pesch’s vocals are strong and resonant in this final piece, a fitting close to the album once again raising a glass to the fallen Kilmister.
DORO’S ‘FOREVER WARRIORS / FOREVER UNITED’ IS RELEASED AUGUST 17TH. PREORDER YOUR COPY FROM NAPALM RECORDS HERE!