Heavy metal, like all forms of rock & roll, is capable of achieving great genius and great stupidity in equal measure -- sometimes simultaneously! Don't try to understand it; just call it "magic" (Ronnie James Dio would!) and know that no album better illustrates this magical conundrum than 1986's Protectors of the Lair, the sophomore effort by San Francisco metal heads Griffin. Based on the evidence at hand, it would seem that the band (recently hobbled by the exits of some key personnel) got so caught up trying to explore a series of convoluted concepts historical ("Eulogy of Sorrow/Awaken"), religious ("Curse the Deceiver," "Truth to the Cross"), fantastical ("Hunger," "Tame the Lion"), and metaphysical ("Infinite Voyage") that the music composed to support them simply dissolved into an incoherent mess, when not resorting to dated heavy metal clichés. OK, so some of the above flashed momentary glimpses of the majestic metal talents displayed on Griffin's stellar debut, Flight of the Griffin (usually during Rick Cooper's marvelous guitar solos, as well as his acoustic conclusion for "Tame the Lion"), only now these served as stark contrasts exposing the surrounding failures. Cap it all off with a very shoddy production job, simply not befitting the (failed) musical ambitions at hand, and it's no wonder that Protectors of the Lair was the straw that broke the Griffin's back and sent this once promising band into an early grave.