Ratt – Infestation (2010, Roadrunner Records)
- Eat Me Up Alive
- Best Of Me
- A Little Too Much
- Look Out Below
- Last Call
- Lost Weekend
- As Good As It Gets
- Garden Of Eden
- Take A Big Bite
- Take Me Home
- Don’t Let Go
Stephen Pearcy – Lead Vocals
Warren DeMartini – Guitars & Background Vocals
Bobby Blotzer – Drums
Robbie Crane – Bass
Carlos Cavazo – Guitars & Background Vocals
Producer: Michael Baskette
Total Time = 42:16
It’s about time that Ratt got back together and released a new album! Since the band’s initial break-up in the early ’90s, Ratt has reformed, regrouped and changed members countless times but they haven’t really made much noise. The band did get together with original singer Stephen Pearcy in 1999 for a new self-titled album on Portrait Records and a prime opening slot on the Poison reunion tour but that soon fizzled out again. Drummer Bobby Blotzer and guitarist Warren DeMartini (the two original members left) went through more Ratt incarnations and continued the war of words with their former frontman but now Pearcy is back in the fold. Longtime bassist Robbie Crane is still with the band and former Quiet Riot guitarist Carlos Cavazo is on board adding his slick guitar to the mix. The result? INFESTATION!
I have always been a big Ratt fan. Back when I was a young kid, I read about the Sunset Strip scene in fanzines and one of the names that popped up alongside Quiet Riot and Motley Crue was Ratt. I got into Ratt like most people did when FM radio and MTV started playing ‘Round And Round’ in their regular rotations, that’s when I ran out and bought OUT OF THE CELLAR (1984). I’ve always backed Ratt, even when the albums weren’t as good, because they were always a solid band and one of my favorites. Their reunion performance on the 1999 Poison tour was great and I thought they stole the show both times I saw it! The problem has always been that Ratt has fallen just a bit short compared to Motley Crue, Bon Jovi and Poison so when I heard that INFESTATION was a return to the old Ratt sound, I was really looking forward to it.
I was hooked from the opening guitar of ‘Eat Me Up Alive’, a classic Ratt rocker that sounds similar to ‘You’re In Love’ (from 1985’s INVASION OF YOUR PRIVACY) but a bit faster. Now that’s the way to open an album…..start right away and go for the throat with a fast song that is guitar heavy. If that isn’t enough, the band follows up with a song that sounds like one of their big hits from the ’80s, ‘Best Of Me’. This track is clearly a return to the commercial melodic Hard Rock that the band became known for and it has a similar sound and tempo to the band’s 1988 hit ‘I Want A Woman’ (from REACH FOR THE SKY). One of the things Ratt did so well back in the day was incorporate the big hooks and the melodic choruses to get you singing along with them, their songs were just infectious and ‘Best Of Me’ follows that tradition. This song is the lead single off INFESTATION and it should definitely be played all over Rock radio, it was tailor made for it, but it’s 25+ years since the band’s heyday and it’s a crime that people won’t hear it.
Ratt always had a sleazy quality to them, maybe it was because of Pearcy’s unique voice or that Sunset Strip hedonistic mentality, but it’s definitely back again on songs like ‘A Little Too Much’, the swaggering ‘Look Out Below’ and guitar driven ‘Last Call’. These songs sound like classic ’80s Ratt, especially ‘Look Out Below with it’s ‘Way Cool Jr.’ strut (from ’88’s REACH FOR THE SKY) and that isn’t only due to the recognizable vocals from Stephen Pearcy, it’s due to the guitars as well. Warren DeMartini has been in Ratt from the beginning and he has always been the band’s “guitar hero”, even when the late Robbin Crosby was sharing lead guitar duties, and his playing is still amzing both on lead and rhythm guitar. What sets this Ratt lineup and album apart from previous reunion tries is that former Quiet Riot guitarist Carlos Cavazo is on board and he fits in perfectly. The problem with the 1999 self-titled album was that it was just Demartini on guitar, the classic Ratt sound was built on the DeMartini/Crosby twin guitar attack. Ratt has always maintained this in concert with former guitarists John Corabi and Keri Kelli but they never put it to a record. Adding Carlos Cavazo not only brings another versatile guitar player but also a songwriter, he adds his writing to four songs including ‘Eat Me Up Alive’ and ‘Best Of Me’.
There are more classic ’80s similarities like the ‘Lack Of Communication’ style on ‘Lost Weekend’ and the ‘Wanted Man’ grind on ‘As Good As It Gets’ (the band even name checks ‘Wanted Man’ in the lyrics!), these songs have a similar base compared to the classics but they stand on their own and aren’t cheap copies. It’s that familiarity that’s really hooked me in and makes the rest of the hard rocking songs like ‘Garden Of Eden’, ‘Take A Big Bite’ and ‘Don’t Let Go’ just as good. You kind of expect an ’80s Hard Rock band to have a ballad on a new album but the closest thing to a ballad is ‘Take Me Home’. I would call this song more of a combination of a hard mid-tempo (on the chorus) and a ballad (on the verses) with an updated sound. What’s throwing me off on ‘Take Me Home’ is that the rest of INFESTATION sounds so much like classic Ratt that the any updated sounds get lost. I like the string arrangement and the guitar solos but ‘Take Me Home sounds more like an idea that needs to be fleshed out a little more rather than a proper song.
Like I said before, I have always been a big Ratt fan so I was really looking forward to this new album. INFESTATION is exactly what an old school Ratt fan is looking for: a return to the classic sound. The band hasn’t released a proper album in eleven years so the classic sound is fresh to my ears where it may be dated to others, Ratt basically followed the same formula with great success for close to two decades. Having Stephen Pearcy back in the band makes a huge difference because his voice is the Ratt sound, kind of like Vince Neil is to Motley Crue, it’s hard to replace such a unique singer. Also adding Carlos Cavazo on guitar brings more energy and diverse playing to join with Demartini’s guitar heroics. INFESTATION is sleazy, slick and hard all at the same time and it’s definitely a classic Ratt record that you could put alongside OUT OF THE CELLAR, INVASION OF YOUR PRIVACY and REACH FOR THE SKY. This is easily one of the best Hard Rock albums I’ve heard this year and ‘Best Of Me’ is one of the best songs of the year so far! A great comeback…..
‘Eat Me Up Alive’, ‘Best Of Me’, ‘Look Out Below’, ‘Lost Weekend’, ‘As Good As It Gets’