Since so many purveyors of heavy-metal rock sound like women singing, it's only fitting that real women finally got in on the heavy-metal lode that sustains gold and platinum albums. At Merriweather Post Pavilion last night, Pat Benatar strengthened her position as the apparent successor to both Heart's Anne Willson and Bad Company's Paul Rogers.

However, the dullness of Benatar's metallic sheen couldn't be covered up by either high volume or low art. And make no mistake, the art quotient of Benatar'smusic is minimal. First, there is little originality beyond the fact that the lead voice is now a woman's. The skelton of redundant riffs and sexual come-ons and put-downs has already inhabited the body of many bands; the dress has changed but the exploitation through song remains the same. Any comparisons to Pretender Chrissie Hynde's psycho-sexual confessionals would be more valid if only Benatar wasn't content to mouth a consistently acquiescent "born too loose, born to lose" philosophy.

Ultimately, the stance is nothing but tough fluff. Even with her commanding voice harnessed by obvious and self-denigrating material, Benatar managed to fulfill some fundamental rock fantasies, even overcoming her band's commonness. The band performed its piston function with Neal Geraldo doing a bit of creative blacksmithing on guitar. The ultimate appraisal: Pat Benatar is a good hitter playing in a lousy field.

Benatar will return to Merriweather Post Pavilion next Monday.