Consider 2018 a banner year for The Queen of Metal. For her 35th anniversary in the scene, Doro Pesch will be inducted into The Hall of Heavy Metal History in a ceremony at this summer's Wacken Open Air Festival. While the Hall is still relatively young, many fans would opine that Doro should've been a gimme inductee off-the-bat.
Storing up a bucket load of tunes since her last album, 2012's "Raise Your Fist", Doro makes her 20th solo album a double-your-pleasure outing: "Forever Warriors, Forever United". Of course, a Doro Pesch solo album seldom strays from its usual course of anthems, power metal marches and ballads, which create the loyalty she enjoys from her fans—that, and her unabashed humility.
Thus, to overly embellish a review of "Forever Warriors, Forever United", despite its cavalcade of tracks, is to commit a slight bit of overkill. What we can say is that the Queen is in her regal splendor with a new arsenal of stand-up-in-the-name-of-metal cuts designed to justify umpteenth touring renditions of WARLOCK's "All We Are", "Fight for Rock" and "Fur Immer".
This is not to mock or slight the incomparable Doro Pesch in any fashion. She's still the best at what she does, and "Forever Warriors, Forever United" is like that reliable MOTÖRHEAD album you're gonna buy automatically—just because. If there's any real differentiation between the two albums, perhaps it's to say "Forever Warriors" is heavier, though the meatiest number, "Fight Through the Fire", actually comes on "Forever United".
There is some hype to discuss about "Forever Warriors, Forever United" for megafans who will go bonkers at the opportunity to hear Doro perform again with former WARLOCK guitarist Tommy Bolan. Superstar slinger Doug Aldrich also contributes to the project. There's a beauty-and-the-beast-themed duet with AMON AMARTH's Johan Hegg, "If I Can't Have You - No One Will", plus an exciting guest list, including Mille Petrozza, Chuck Billy, the SABATON crew and a posthumously released track with Warrel Dane, who helps her out on the lead single, "All for Metal".
Doro musically grieves for her longtime friend, Lemmy Kilmister on "Living Life To The Fullest", which Doro penned on her way to his funeral, not to mention dropping a heartfelt cover of MOTÖRHEAD's "Lost in the Ozone". Her cover of WHITESNAKE's "Don't Break My Heart Again" is likewise purportedly in tribute to Lemmy. Hey, when you have Doug Aldrich in court, right?
So, let's flag the rally cry cuts for this round: "All for Metal" from "Forever Warriors" is strategically the "All We Are" moment for this round, and it's whoa-oh-oh lofts and "METAL!" gang shouts will immediately summon Doro's flock to her cause. Ditto for the loud and proud pumps of "Turn it Up", "Resistance", "Blood, Sweat and Rock 'n' Roll", "Fight Through the Fire" and "Backstage to Heaven".
"Forever United" being the gentler and more introspective of the album coupling, Doro loads it with bittersweet balladry in the form of "Lift Me Up", "It Cuts So Deep" and "1000 Years". From "Forever Warriors", there's the occasionally loud if somber "Soldier Of Metal", "Love's Gone to Hell" and the rousing "Freunde Furs Leben".
If there's any real problem to "Forever Warriors, Forever United", it's that the sum of all parts is too much of the same helpings in one sitting. To the point even the band is, at times, rolling through the motions. "If I Can't Have You - No One Will" is unfortunately awkward and garish, though Doro is to be commended for shaking things up. Positively, "Bastardos" is shocked with speed and hellfire, and Doro rolls through it with champion vigor. She snarls deliciously on "Turn it Up" and she tragically makes you feel what she's feeling on "Heartbroken", one of the best tunes in the set.
All being said, this is still the sound of a legend with a tigress soul and showing no sign of quit. Doro forever...