June 19, 1989 12:00 PM


After The Big Chill sound track brought it back into vogue, you probably thought that if you heard the hypnotic “A Whiter Shade of Pale” one more time, you were going to turn just that. But no number of repetitions of the Procol Harum version of the song could be nearly so bad as heavy-metal mama Doro doing it once.

Anyone still listening to Force Majeure after that cloying first track, with its slow, ponderous beginning leading into a whole lot of noise, will find that the rest of the album gets progressively worse. Doro, a German-born singer who used to front a band called Warlock, has a thin, screechy voice that seems designed to produce an effect something like—and this is just a guess—nails on a blackboard. Other than Doro’s femininity, Force Majeure doesn’t offer anything different from that of most heavy-metal albums, with shrieky guitar solos, a monotonous beat and hackneyed lyrics (“Love will save my soul someday”; “We’re hidin’ so much pain/But it is all in vain”) that seem even more treacly against the backdrop of foraging music.

The existential fumbling of Doro’s “I Am What I Am” and the vigilantism of “World Gone Wild” are especially silly in this context. Heavy-metal party music has a safe place in rock, but trying to fuse the clankety-clank-clank with anything resembling social consciousness seems pointless. Only Metallica seems to be able to pull off that combination (and not everyone is convinced by Metallica).

Since heavy metal is usually linked with testosterone and teenage boys, it’s tempting to treat any female contribution to the form as an accomplishment, whatever its quality. This detracts from the genuine talent shown by Lita Ford, Joan Jett and even Heart in their heavier heyday. Doro, however, fits the minimal-talent stereotype all too well. The cover of this album shows the sweat-shined singer comin’ at ya with a raised sledgehammer. The image alone should warn any sane person to stay away. (Mercury)

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