Listening to Doro Pesch at her prime is like watching a Jerry Bruckheimer movie. It's a larger-than-life, formulaic experience tailor-made to pull on the heartstrings and inspire the broadest emotions in the largest group of people. The diminutive Metal Queen knows her audience, and has had them eating from the palm of her hand for two decades now (barring those few years when she strayed from the formula and made records too weird for the faithful to accept). She's a tried and true entertainer, able to ruthlessly hone in on that indefinable spark that makes big, burly, drunken Germans hug each other and tearfully sing along to "Für Immer" and "All We Are" in muddy open-air fields every summer.
That's not a slam, either — DORO may have settled into a pretty familiar groove, career-wise, but she's a master at what she does. Like fellow icons Udo Dirkschneider and Ronnie James Dio, she takes the high road and inspires with lyrics of unity, heroism and metal fealty. We're all warriors, we're all family, it's us dreamers and losers united against the world… not the most original topics, but DORO can make the most hackneyed concepts come to life with her heartfelt delivery and the triumphant, cinematic quality of her music.
If there is a fault with "Warrior Soul", it's that it may be too saturated with these up-with-people ballads. "Above the Ashes", "Warrior Soul", "Heaven I See"… we love the banner-waving, fist-in-the-air anthems, of course, but how about the rockers? "Haunted Heart" is a great one, with an urgent riff and a soaring chorus, but the record could use more like this. "My Majesty" is a great midtempo rocker with an 80's feel to it, and still more "you mean the world to me" lyrics. "Creep Into My Brain" is one of those slinky, sinister slow-burn kinds of songs, while "You're My Family" and "Thunderspell" are textbook metal, classic riffing and stick-to-the-brain choruses in Doro's inimitable clarion call.
The two songs done in German at the end of the album are a real treat — "In Liebe und Freundschaft" (In Love And Friendship) is another ballad, one that'll have 'em weeping in the aisles, while "Ungebrochen" (Unbroken) is little more than a soccer chant set to music, 1:39 of DORO-ized punk rock. It's kind of a throwaway, but a nice kick in the ass after all the ballads. It leads into "Shine On", which closes the album with (if I may continue the movie metaphor) perfect closing-credits music, an uplifting anthem that typifies the DORO experience — swelling emotions, big chords, and satisfying songs. No surprises here — but would you want any?
"Warrior Soul" is pure DORO — classy, catchy, and full of metal heart.