Just in time for Halloween, Indiana crypt dwellers Grave Robber arrive with their second release, Inner Sanctum. And my first question for any rock or metal band donning costumes and pushing horror theme music is always, 'Does anybody take them seriously?' I remember Alice Cooper's comment when asked about rising young star Marilyn Manson: 'He has a woman's name and wears makeup. How original.' Following GWAR, Lordi, and possibly even Slipknot and Mushroomhead, what Grave Robber is doing is hardly novel, and so quite unconvincing. If there is anything remotely clever and creative it comes from the musical side. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any costumed caped crusaders playing horror punk metal, or one doing it with obvious Christian themes.
Inner Sanctum ranges from pure punk to metal-tinged punk to near psychobilly rock sounding like a revved up Johnny Cash on crack, and lead vocalist 'Wretched' (yeah right) sounds like healthy and sober Elvis on many songs. Honestly, except for the Christian and pseudo-horror themes, Grave Robber reminds of early Christian punk pioneers Undercover (which would truly make them derivative on both fronts). In the end, the best thing about Inner Sanctum, and the reason it gets a better than average grade, is that the music is lively and infectious with huge hooks. Listen for Inner Sanctum, Tell Tale Hearts, Valley Of Dry Bones which are some the best.
Normally, this would be the end of review. But then there's the whole Christian thing mixed with Grave Robber's horror rock. It's quite bizarre and, being a Christian for more than 25 years, I can't leave it alone. Yeah, I get the metaphor and symbolism: the 'real' grave robber is Jesus Christ who raises the dead at the end of the age, and the masks and clothing have additional salvation symbolism. Yet, if the intent of Grave Robber is to present Christ and His gospel, then wrapping it up in ghoulish attire and creepy B-movie themes merely belittles its beauty and castrates its power. It's doing nothing for me, and I can't imagine an 'unbeliever' would take it seriously either.
Grave Robber may be a fan favorite at Cornerstone (the Christian 'Loud Park'), but that's about the only place where they could be accepted as serious: preaching to the choir. Essentially, by their pretense, they diminish the Gospel and its claims by reducing it to comedic and irrelevant parody. Even Alice Cooper, also a Christian, knows better. Frankly, if they want to present Christ, Grave Robber would do better by throwing off the grave clothes, befriending some sinners, and telling them (plainly) about the love of God in Christ.
Even though the costumes and horror themes are blatantly derivative, the best thing about Inner Sanctum is the music: lively and infectious punk rock with big hooks which leans toward metal and psychobilly.
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