Six years is a long time to wait for anything, especially when what we’ve been waiting for is new music from The Metal Queen herself, DORO. Well, the long, arduous torture is over because at last we have Forever Warriors, Forever United (out now, Nuclear Blast Records), a double-disc set featuring 25 songs!! I always get nervous when bands and artists put these out because the streets are littered with the carcasses of ill-fated, bloated, overindulgent double albums that quite frankly maybe, MAYBE have 10 good songs between them (Guns N’Roses, Five Finger Dick Punch, Smashing Pumpkins, anyone?) and are just bad. Well fear not, that ain’t the case here! What we get is a set that ebbs and flows in perfect fashion. So let’s dive in.
The record opens with a one-two punch of “All For Metal” and “Bastardos”, both of which bring the heavy and the hooks in spades and were obvious favorites from jump. The latter features an all-star cast helping out on the choruses, too. Speaking of guests, the mighty Johan Hegg from AMON AMARTH shows up to duet on the very dark number “If I Can’t Have You – no one Will.” What truly makes this one leap off the page is that I watched them perform it live at Wacken a few weeks ago and live it simply destroys. A change of pace comes with “Soldier of Metal,” one of several ballads in this collection. Longtime fans will definitely feel this one, no question.
It’s back to rockin’ with “Turn It Up” and “Blood, Sweat, and Rock ‘n’ Roll.” You can just hear the band locked in, and the riff machine is humming along at full power. There’s some really sweet guitar solo stuff going on behind the verses and choruses, too of “Blood, Sweat”, something I always love. “Don’t Break My Heart Again” is vintage DORO at its finest, and I could easily see this one on Angels Never Die or 1990’s self-titled album. But it sounds fresh and current at the same time. “Love’s Gone to Hell’ is next, and truth be told…I wasn’t real big on this one when it was first released two years ago. Blasphemy, I know. Seeing/hearing it live twice since then has brought me around though, so I definitely dig it now.
“Freunde Fürs Leben” (Friends For Life) is sung completely in German, and DORO makes you hang on every word, whether or not you speak the language. There’s real feeling in this one. “Backstage to Heaven” reminds me of the glory days of L.A.’s Sunset Strip and there’s even a cool breakdown featuring some saxophone courtesy of German musician/comedian Helge Schneider. “Be Strong” is an all-out rocker and one of the reasons this review is only happening now. It’s a bonus track and I didn’t get those till yesterday. Disc two opens with “Résistance” and keeps the metal train rolling nicely, while “Lift Me Up”, “Cuts So Deep”, and “1000 Years” are three very beautiful love songs. “Cuts” in particular has a real pained longing in the chorus.
“Heartbroken” features guest guitars from my man crush Doug Aldrich and has a soaring hook and fiery solo. Then again, I expected nothing less. And speaking of guitar-driven rockers, “Love Is a Sin” has axemen Bas Maas and Luca Princiotta flexing their muscles over a smooth groove laid down by the rhythm section of Nick Douglas (bass) and Johnny Dee (drums), making for another surefire winner. “Living Life to the Fullest” is a special number because it was written in the wake of Lemmy’s death in tribute to him. It also encapsulates the spirit of who he was lyrically, set against a sort of metal minuet. Either way it works perfectly.
“Fight through the Fire” and “Metal Is My Alcohol” show a more raw, unpolished side of DORO and her bandmates, with the latter being damn near full-on punk. This was a pleasant surprise! She also made the very wise choice to cover “Lost In the Ozone” a MOTÖRHEAD tune, once again to honor her fallen friend. I steady abuse the REPEAT button. All in all, this is a magnificent collection from The Metal Queen. 25 tracks of kickass metal, gorgeous balladry, and foot-stompin’ rock ‘n’ roll. Every song hits the mark, and in all honesty Forever Warriors, Forever United is THE best DORO album since Warrior Soul. The race for my Top Albums of 2018 just got a lot tighter. Hail to The Queen, FÜR IMMER!!
STANDOUT TRACKS: ALL OF THEM