Doro Pesch, the Metal Queen, is back with Conqueress – Forever Strong and Proud, her eighteenth album. The title is, as expected, a message of defiance and pride, but what of the music? Well, it certainly follows the familiar Doro formula, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Pretty much every band we like or follow has a winning style, and Doro is no exception.
Doro – Conqueress – Forever Strong and Proud
Release Date: 27 October 2023
Words: Mark Rotherham
The album kicks off with Children Of The Dawn, possessed of an almost orchestral guitar line and typically Germanic deep chorus opening. And then Doro’s slick vocals grate over your senses with her usual, expected and absolutely wanted message. Doro’s all about unity, about the underdogs sticking together, and these themes remain throughout this album.
But you need more than that if you want to remain at the top of your Metal game for forty years. You need good musicianship, solid playing, and slick production. Hell, you need to be entertained.
Welcome to the world of Doro Pesch!
Fire In The Sky is up next, with a super-fast drum and riff intro reminiscent of ’80s Metal, which a certain band called Warlock excelled at. But whether it’s 1983 or 2023, Doro Pesch remains a seemingly permanent feature of the Metal landscape. This isn’t Swiss-made intricate precision. This is meat and potatoes Heavy Metal coming at you with a double sledgehammer blow, and if that’s what you want, if that’s what you need, then you’re in the right place.
Doro has formed many Metal alliances over the years, and her connection with Judas Priest has stood the test of time, so it’s no surprise that this album includes a cover of Living After Midnight. This version has just the same energy and urgency as the original, and maybe because surely to God, that’s Rob Halford in there, guesting on a cover of his own song.
It’s absolutely awesome, but you don’t need me to tell you that. Anyone who knows Doro knows her allegiances and knows her loyalties. I’m only surprised that Fire In The Sky wasn’t a cover of the Saxon song. This track more than makes up for it, though. This covers ’80s Metal with a unique and updated Doro twist, and I love it.
Then comes All For You, with a nice arpeggio intro with building drums that leads into a galloping Metal anthem. This, as the title suggests, is a song about allegiance, about sacrifice for one person, one belief. None of this is anything new to the Metal fan, but it’s what we live for, and it’s what motivates us, gets us up in the morning, and sometimes keeps us up all night. If this is your colour, if this is your belief, then you know that this song will speak to you, and it will speak to you alone.
Some bands and artists try like hell to avoid the Metal clichés, but not Doro. It’s where she lives. She glories in it, and oh yeah, we love her for it. Check out the next track, Lean Mean Rock Machine, and you’ll see what I mean. There are no pretensions with Doro Pesch, she lives, eats and breathes Heavy Metal, and she doesn’t mind being labelled as such. And if that’s where you live, then you’ll identify with this song, that’s what you will call yourself, and you’ll be damn proud to do it as well.
Hot on the heels of Lean Mean Rock Machine is I Will Prevail. It starts with a bone-crushing riff and relentless vocal delivery. If you know Doro, you’ll know what this song will be all about, and the music matches the uncompromising message perfectly. And there’s even a nice little Nightwish-like shouting out the song title mid-song.
Bond Unending shows another side to Doro’s singing, with a much softer sound. But way too fast to be a ballad, and the guest vocals courtesy of Broilers’ Sammy Amara adds to the impact of the song. It’s a love song, but it’s a love song done Doro-style.
Things don’t stay lovey-fluffy-bunny for long, though, as Time For Justice thuds through your speakers. It’s an ideal anthem for many Metal fans. Doro carries the message of freedom to her followers to carry the rebel Metal yell forward. The formula on this album is a known quantity, but then, isn’t that the same for pretty much all bands and artists?
One of the constants with Doro Pesch is you’re always going to get at least one song sung in her native tongue, but this time round, it’s confined to the chorus. Fels In Der Brandung, which translates to Rock In The Surf, is a mixed English and German sung ballad.
Another slow-burn song, but not quite a ballad, is Love Breaks Chains. This song is all about staying strong, staying together, about love breaking the chains that keep people apart. It could be about relationships, or it could be about world peace, and that’s the great thing about all music, not just Metal. It can mean different things to different people.
You don’t always get curve balls with Doro, but Drive Me Wild is definitely one. It’s an old style, almost rock ‘n’ roll song with its rhythmic riff, and is a simple song that celebrates the invigorating, life-giving infusion of good music, or is that a good person? Again, the changing meanings in the songs come through.
Doro’s quest for Metal salvation, for Metal survival, continues with Rise, a heady, potent mix of uplifting, inspirational messaging that has been coming your way from Ms Pesch for about forty years.
A haunting piano start, and we’re definitely into ballad territory with Best In Me, a song that reminds me of Herzblut. It’s a powerful mix of slow riffing, strong, heartfelt lyrics and Doro’s powerful voice.
There’s a slight lyrical nod in Ronnie James Dio’s direction with Heavenly Creatures. This punchy song is a tribute to the night, the darkness, and the answers it can provide.
The second cover version on the album comes in the shape of Total Eclipse Of The Heart, featuring another appearance from Rob Halford. Structurally, this doesn’t differ too much from the original, although the guitar solo is a definite lurch into heavier waters.
And then there are five bonus tracks. Yes, you read that right: five. The first one is Warlocks And Witches, which has the feel of the Fear No Evil album, complete with scary thunder sound effects. It’s a very short track, with just Doro’s voice singing a single verse, accompanied by the thunder. You can imagine this as an intro to a song.
Horns Up High follows in much the same theme as the previous track, with mystical, tribal warrior lyrics. It reminds me a lot of Accept’s Teutonic Terror.
Sticking with Doro’s winning formula is True Metal Maniacs, a slow, driving tribute to Metal fans. “Only true Metal maniacs know the real deal, feel what they feel.” That deal, and that feel, will mean different things to each one of us, but we’ll all be there at the concert, raising our fists as we hear this song.
Moving on to softer subject matter is Heart In Pain, a song of anguish, dripping molten riffs and after nineteen songs, the quality and musicianship continues. This song just chugs along, breathing loneliness and dark emotions over the listener, imploring us to give love one more try.
The final track is The Four Horsemen, and a thunderous riff is saved for this last song. It speeds along and comes closest to Doro’s neo-thrash Metal roots. The song’s got a bridge and then goes all slow and mellow, an amazing eclectic mix of music and a fabulous solo. What a way to end it.
So there you have it, fifteen tracks on the album and five bonus tracks that make it seventy-two minutes of some of the best Metal you will hear all year. And let’s be clear. None of this is new, but it still feels new. It still sounds fresh. You think you’re listening to Doro’s unique brand of Metal for the first time.
Forty years of fabulous music, that’s not an easy thing to do. We are sure that Doro will still be assaulting our eardrums with top-notch, quality Heavy Metal for a long, long time to come.
Doro, Conqueress – Forever Strong and Proud, can be pre-ordered from here.
Conqueress – Forever Strong and Proud
- Children Of The Dawn
- Fire In The Sky
- Living After Midnight
- All For You
- Lean Mean Rock Machine
- I Will Prevail
- Bond Unending
- Time For Justice
- Fels in der Brandung
- Love Breaks Chains
- Drive Me Wild
- Best In Me
- Heavenly Creatures
- Total Eclipse Of The Heart
- Bonus Track: Warlocks And Witches
- Bonus Track: Horns Up High
- Bonus Track: True Metal Maniacs
- Bonus Track: Heart In Pain
- Bonus Track: The Four Horsemen