The clang of metallic rock is easy to resist on the intellectual plane, but a bit harder to dismiss at gut level. There's something immediate and overwhelming about power chords and anvil drums charging at breakneck speed. It's the pacede resistanceand it continues to inspire platinum record sales and fill huge arenas with kids who may eventually know better but are, for now, satisfied with Status Quo.
Or Rainbow, which bloomed out of the pot of metal known as Deep Purple via guitarist Ritchie Blackmore. In terms of service, it hasn't been all aces in the past few years for Rainbow. The main problem has been keeping a consistent vocalist; for the second album in a row, the role is played by Joe Lynn Turner, who seems drawn from the same mold as three-quarters of the genre's singers. On "Stone Cold," "Tite Squeeze" and "Miss Mistreated," he apes the semi- soulfulness of Foreigner's Lou Gramm and Bad Company's Paul Rodgers, but most of the road is traveled high and angry ("Death Alley Driver" and "Rock Fever") or low and languid ("Tearin' Out My Heart").
As always, it's Blackmore's often-intricate, always-busy guitar wallop that sets the pace. His playing has matured to the point where he no longer confuses fire with pyrotechnics, or lets an extended solo become excessive. The album's most memorable song is "Power," a dynamically steaming yet thoroughly accessible tune that could have come from Stevie Winwood's early Traffic bag.
If Rainbow represents the old guard, Riot represents the new breed of rock metallurgists. Because they have yet to find their own distinctive voice, they tend to parody the excesses of their elders by mining the standard formulas they grew up with. Riot, from New York but with a lead singer (Rhett Forrester) from the South, represents a curious blend of influences: not only North and South, but American and British. On the more belligerent tunes ("Hard Lovin' Man," "Violent Crimes," "CIA"), Forrester tends to ape Dan McCafferty of Nazareth, David Lee Roth of Van Halen and Ian Gillan. On the Free-like blues of "Restless Breed," he eases over toward Paul Rodgers' more gracious, relaxed delivery.
Riot attacks its music with a certain relish (witness the barely contained glee of the destructive "CIA") and joins the Animals bandwagon with a hard-headed version of "When I Was Young." They seem most comfortable in boogie overdrive, which allows guitarists Mark Reale and Rick Ventura to fabricate some intense duality. Like Rainbow, Riot doesn't pull its gut-punches.
THE RECORD, THE SHOW
THE ALBUMS RAINBOW --Straight Between the Eyes (Mercury SRM-1-4041) RIOT -- Restless Breed (Elektra E1-60134)
THE CONCERT RAINBOW, KROKUS AND RIOT, 7:30 Tuesday at the Capital Centre (350-3900).