Ratt - Infestation
2010 Roadrunner Records/Loud 'n Proud Records
Ray Van Horn, Jr.
2010 has become a time warp for metal music. The good news is very little of the output released from the old school has sucked. In fact, most of it has been a pinpointed nudge towards returning to the real, or at least returning to the mark of what gained bands their yesteryear prominence.
Would you think in 2010 we'd be citing new albums from Megadeth, Testament, Ozzy, Slash, Overkill, Heathen, Forbidden, Exodus, Scorpions, Armored Saint, Slayer, Keel, Trident, Lillian Axe and Krokus, all in succession and plenty more hairball heaven on the way? Pinch me, are you sure it's not '87 again?
Sure, a handful of these groups have delivered a steady stream of albums with almost no layoff along their courses. Still, there's a conspiracy at work this year amongst the old school bands. From the tawdry memories of fadeout failures in some cases, they are collectively rising to reclaim their legitimacy.
Even these bands of Metal Mania know only a handful of tried 'n trues stand to cash in on their burned-away fame. At one point in time, Ratt was considered a tried 'n true hard rock band. At least through Reach for the Sky, Ratt was a commercial powerhouse who'd sunk their own ironsides by the time 1990's Detonator arrived to a mostly disinterested audience. "Shame Shame Shame" and "Lovin' You's a Dirty Job" being two of Ratt's most memorable tunes, they nevertheless became one of the first casualties in the Great Grunge Kill-Off.
11 years following their ill-fated self-titled album, a myriad of legal skirmishes and the loss of guitarist Robbin Crosby (who broke many rock fans' hearts with the news of destitution preceding his death), Ratt comes back for more with 3/5 remaining of their core lineup. Infestation is their 7th official studio album and while it creeps in a few spots, there's no arguing the Ratt pride is back at its raunchy best.
Added to the Ratt 'n Roll funhouse for 2010 is Quiet Riot ace Carlos Cavazo and hangabout bassist Robbie Crane, along with charters Stephen Pearcy, Warren DiMartini and Bobby Blotzer. Frankly, if we're to stomach another lineup overhaul at this point in Ratt's sometimes bizarre career, at least there's a family familiarity on Infestation, which is why it rocks with ease. And of course, sleaze.
The primary vibe of Infestation is a corraling of their first four full-lengths, even if "Last Call" comes off like a merge between the Ratt EP and Reach for the Sky. The album settles into its acquainted platinum leathers with "Eat Me Up Alive," "Best of Me" and their pole-dancing number "Look Out Below." The first two tracks are the album's best, but the closing cut "Don't Let Go" and "A Little Too Much" stamp out any preconceptions Ratt is trying to fully hijack their past catalog.
Granted, the opening chugs of "Lost Weekend" are heisted straight outta "Lack of Communication," yet the new jam takes on its own party-hearty identity, though still sounding at home in an eighties bikini waxed sex comedy. Nothing new from the Ratt trick bag, which comes filled with condoms, trophy thongs and little black books guarding past and present hookup digits.
In some ways you want to tell Stephen Pearcy to grow up as he slavers about digging tight ass and pokes through his pants on "Look Out Below" and "Take a Big Bite." At least he packs enough vocal punch to back up the songs' erecticle superciliousness. He delivers his trademark pining candor on Infestation with convincing machismo he's bound to lure a few ladies into his den of sin--MILFs and a few twenty-somethings alike. The fact he sounds as sharp as he did on Invasion of Your Privacy and Dancing Undercover is remarkable at this point. Stephen Pearcy sells it on Infestation like Klaus Meine does for the Scorpions on Sting in the Tail.
Warren DiMartini and Carlos Cavazo swing with synergy, even if that was already well-established with John Carabi preceding Cavazo's arrival. DiMartini and Cavazo trade spotlights with equal aplomb as the Crosby years, if not with extra refinement. These are a pair of pros who can fiddle out snazzy guitar solos in a half daze.
"Take Me Home" is a brave step out of the center for Ratt. Some will look upon it as a power ballad, something Stephen Pearcy didn't need to field until his time in Arcade. On Infestation, "Take Me Home" grows merit on the light airy synths hidden behind the gradually heaped amplification.
"As Good as it Gets" is pure throwaway, yet misnomer aside, Infestation is a fist banging, coochie trolling pleasure trip down Sunset Strip Memory Lane.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Ratt - Infestation