RATT – Infestation

The year was 1984 and for some reason I was listening to the radio – something I never did back then since Swedish radio never played any hard rock – and there was interview with a young woman who had recently got home from the States where she worked as an Au-Pair. Some friends had dragged her along to a Ratt concert and she had been totally floored, she said and could they please their current hit “Round And Round” maybe? I had heard of the name Ratt but never heard them. After those minutes with Ratt on the radio, I turned around, took the train to the city and bought Out Of The Cellar right off the bat – and BANG!, I was a fan. The follow-up Invasion Of Your Privacy (1985) was just as good, if not better, but after that, things started to crumble in the Ratt camp. Drugs and internal fighting started to take its toll and with the release of 1986’s Dancing Undercover it stood clear that the band had lost the plot a bit. It’s not a bad album at all but with too many fillers it wasn’t even close to its predecessors. The same could be said of Reach For The Sky (1988) – pretty good but still underwhelming. They shaped things up a bit with 1990’s Detonator, but it was too late – they had lost too many fans and the platinum act that was once at the doorstep to world domination was now playing smaller places or opening up to other bands.

Ratt called it quits in 1992 but by then Robbin Crosby (1959-2002) had already left the band. They reunited as four-piece in 1996 with Robbie Crane (Vince Neil) as replacement for bassist Juan Croucier, who didn’t want to participate in the reunion and released Collage, an album full of rerecorded old demos, some written before their first E.P. in 1983, in 1997. The album didn’t do much – because it was pretty damn lousy. The band’s first album of newly written material since 1990 showed up in 1999 and was self-titled, but the album sank like a rock in the sea – which wasn’t much a surprise. The album blew – it’s easily the worst record Ratt have ever released. Then singer Stephen Pearcy left and guitarist Warren De Martini and drummer Bobby Blotzer kept the band going in a million different constellations – singers and rhythm guitar player were changed every other week. But in 2006, Pearcy returned to the band and in 2008, they recruited old Quiet Riot guitarist Carlos Cavazo and that is the band that are Ratt today. And now they treat us with a brand new album as well. Sadly, my expectations aren’t all that high after the last two bombings.

”Eat Me Up Alive” opens the album and it’s a real punch in the nuts. This is classic Ratt – with a bit of an Aerosmith influence – and could have been taken from one of their 80’s hit albums albeit somewhat raunchier. It’s a killer track that caught me off guard – seems like the guys still got what it takes. First single ”Best Of Me” is proves that the opener wasn’t just a strike of luck. It’s a bit more commercial than we’re used to but it’s still great and the hooks are just awesome. Parts of it has a Van Halen vibe as well. “A Little Too Much” kicks off with classic Warren De Martini Ratt riffing. The whole tune is a god-damn time machine and the big groove kicks up dust and the chanting refrain sticks like glue – how brilliant. “Look Out Below” has a riff reminiscent of “Lovin’ You’s A Dirty Job” (Detonator). As a matter of fact, this is a sister song to it except for the chorus that doesn’t really hit all the way, without being bad at all. The verse is awesome, though. “Last Call” is in faster pace with a crunchy blues guitar bit right before the chorus comes. Even this time, the chorus isn’t really a smash but the verses are so much classic Ratt it could get.

”Lost Weekend” is the long-lost brother of ”Lack Of Communication” from Out Of The Cellar. A bad-ass groover that should make any Ratt jump with joy. It’s not a clone but I’m sure the band threw a peak at said song when they wrote it. Could be a new Ratt classic. ”As Good As It Gets” just reeks of Ratt. It comes in mid-pace, pretty heavy with a groove but it’s on the monotone side and the chorus never really lifts even though it’s pretty catchy. A good song, no more, no less.  “Garden Of Eden”, slips into a more sleazy version of Led Zeppelin and the 70’s influence is all over the place, but the refrain doesn’t really hit me where it should. Again, it’s a good song, but not great. “Take A Big Bite” is the low water mark on the album. A heavy and dark sleazy rocker that really goes nowhere and it has the quality of the fillers on Dancing Undercover and Reach For The Sky. “Take Me Home” is a softie, on the ballad side but with a groove. It’s a bit spacey and the verses are quite beautiful. The chorus, however, is brilliant. If this doesn’t goes right to your head you probably doesn’t have one. Closing track “Don’t Let Go” is a real belt-buster. It’s pretty rough and hard and moves pretty fast. It’s headbanging-friendly and borders to metal but sports a fantastic refrain. A great closer.

Ratt has with this CD recorded a very good album that should keep every Ratt fan satisfied. It’s pretty clear that the guys have stayed focused on writing a damn good record that not only is high in quality but that also sports a classic Ratt sound albeit updated for 2010. Sure there are some setbacks and flaws here and there but for the most, the guys prove that they have learned from the mistakes that were Collage and Ratt. The hooks are everywhere and everything – from vocals to rhythm guitars to solos – are very melodic and memorable. The sound is ballsy, rough and pretty heavy but also slick, catchy and listening-friendly and I really dig the whole production. This is a big and very pleasant surprise and now I just can’t wait until the next one.

8/10

Tracklist:

1. Eat Me Up Alive
2. Best Of Me
3. A Little Too Much
4. Look Out Below
5. Last Call
6. Lost Weekend
7. As Good As It Gets
8. Garden Of Eden
9. Take A Big Bite
10. Take Me Home
11. Don’t Let Go

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