Hard Reviews 2
by Martin Popoff

Grave Digger - Excalibur

Probably still the most vital of German power metal's wizened trio of roughriders (the others being Rage and Running Wild), Grave Digger end up biting the arses of the operatic clinical folk of the genre, reminding the world that metal is supposed to grind and throb. But that hasn't stopped them from being one of the most committed to the concept record, here the band continuing their obsession with medieval themes, focusing this time on the mythology of King Arthur. Of course it's wordy, overwrought and stuffed with fussy little parts, but the carnal rhythms, along with Uwe Lulis' carbonizing guitar sound and Chris Boltendahl's legendary Udo growl keep the show earthy and mischievous, as does the fact that once past all the finery, most of the compositions stick to a simple chug, much fast like Helloween, much leaden like Accept. Nice packaging too (also getting to be a trend), featuring lavish fantasy artwork housed in a digipak format. Light relief: ballad Emerald Eyes, where Chris sounds like he's coughing up a lung.
Rating 8

Dad's Porno Mag - Dad's Porno Mag

If all goes according to merit, leader of Dad's Porno Mag Ryan Roxie should be a rock star. He's a personanble guy, looks great on stage (love the cornrows and chain shirt), has the guitar chops (he slings for both Alice Cooper and Slash's Snakepit), and is a classic singer in the Robin Zander/Chip Z'nuff mold. Also feautured in the band is Gilby Clarke's rhythm section, who propel a record that sounds like high octane alt.rock with shades of uh, Gilby solo, Enuff Z'nuff, Paul Gilbert's King Of Clubs and Cheap Trick, the band going so far as to rev the record with a short intro tune called Hello (In Color fans will get it). Sonically, the record rocks with an authority like Illusion-era Guns (tho just the simple churning parts). The songs however, sway between delectable and trite, like so much ironic neo-glam, either becoming yer anthem or turning the stomach like regular cola. Bottom line: it's dumbed down for cash, or for empty-headed fun; no real art here, just pursuit of the perfect pop song, which has its place. I've just never located it yet.
Rating 7

Hard Reviews Page 3