She's the queen of metal and there were very few people in the community who didn't take it personal when Doro Pesch lost her Long Island home to Hurricane Irene. She is by far the sweetest and most treasured person on the scene, as humble and fan-friendly as Ronnie James Dio was. For all the love Doro withholds in a special packet for only her fans to unseal, it was more than unfair she became the victim of collateral damage.
Doro may or may not still be smarting from that tragic event, but professional candor aside, the queen is raging from her throne on her latest album, "Raise Your Fist". Lord, does Doro sound like she has a score to settle this time around. Granted, "Raise Your Fist" conforms to just about every solo and WARLOCK venture Doro's recorded in her three-plus decades. Yet there's an agitated snarl more than a few times here and it's going to be hard as ever for any other female metal crooner to throw down in Doro's court.
Doro Pesch knows what her fans expect from her and "Raise Your Fist" ushers everything that's part and parcel to her Teutonic-kissed heavy rock: true as steel metal anthems, supple power ballads and a couple of double-kicked skullcrushers. Add another duet with MOTORHEAD's Lemmy Kilmister for good measure and "Raise Your Fist" is vintage Doro, albeit with a better top finish than her last album, "Fear No Evil". Then there's that barely harnessed rage jacking this album way the hell up.
The first three tracks "Raise Your Fist and Yell", "Coldhearted Lover" and "Rock Till Death" comprise Doro's obligatory hail and stomp anthems. These tracks will no doubt work their way into future live sets because they immediately endear themselves to Doro's knuckle-pumping demographic. Only she could get away with outmoded Metal Is Life sing-along chants that would bury other old-school holdouts as fossils. Coming from Doro Pesch, they're nostalgic, sure, but they're still badass and they're also what her audience craves from her. God bless Doro, she's fearless in delivering them. Still, the better songs are yet to come.
"Raise Your Fist" settles for niceties until the duet with Lemmy, "It Still Hurts", one of the more stirring ballads Doro's attempted, "Let Love Rain On Me", "Fur Immer" and "Love Me In Black" notwithstanding. "Raise Your Fist" next amps up and interchanges tempos with reliable heaviness on the whomping "Grab the Bull (Last Man Standing)", "Freheit (Human Rights)", "Victory" and "Little Headbanger (Nackenbrach)". Better still is the ripping thrash of "Take No Prisoner" and "Revenge". The vigorous ferocity Doro seethes into "Revenge" tallies a high notch as one of her finest songs ever. In fact, the entire band whirls a savage tempest behind her to spike "Revenge"'s heated fury. The double hammer of Johnny Dee is a steadfast delight while Bas Maas and Luca Princiotta decorate the song's venomous onslaught with superb shredding and soloing.
In between are other slow odes, "Engel", "Hero" and "Free My Heart", the latter checking in as the stoutest. Despite the predictability of "Raise Your Fist", there's a hair more urgency to the album and a lot more angst behind Doro's delivery. Having celebrated her thirtieth anniversary in the industry not that long ago, Doro Pesch sounds as committed as ever to her guileless mission of bringing metallic joy to her admirers. It's all she's ever wanted to do and thank God she's still at the height of her talents. "Victory" may be a stripped-down affair, but it should've been this album's debut single because Doro Pesch perseveres with a near-rout on "Raise Your Fist".
- Ray Van Horn, Jr.