STEPHEN PEARCY – View To A Thrill

Ratt have always been a dysfunctional band but in the last year they have been a mess. When the three original members Stephen Pearcy (vocals), Warren De Martini (guitars) and Bobby Blotzer (drums) finally managed to talk original bass player Juan Croucier to return in 2012 it only took one year until Blotzer was out and earlier this year both De Martini and guitarist (latest) Carlos Cavazo jumped the ship leaving Pearcy and Croucier as the only original members. Pearcy himself left the band and rejoined many, many times throughout the years but is touring under the Ratt moniker still. Also, new video clips showed a drooling, clearly intoxicated Pearcy on stage that had trouble even standing up. There’s never a dull moment in the Ratt camp… So while new music from Ratt isn’t anything I’m holding my breath for – which is sad because the last Ratt album Infestation (2010) was a damn good one – Stephen Pearcy is way more creative by himself in that department.

Since his debut solo outing Social Intercourse back in 2002, Pearcy has released five more solo albums, the new one included. While the quality of those albums have been a little up and down, his last effort Smash (2017) – the first new music from a Ratt member since 2010 – showed a singer that had gone back to his roots of melodic, guitar-driven Hard Rock with eyes on his Ratt past without trying to make a Ratt record without the rest of the guys. Without Smash being some kind of masterpiece, it did show a frontman that sounded fresh and vital and ready to kick ass and as it seems more than ready to go solo if Ratt should call it quits, something I do find likely after all the hick-ups during 2018. So let’s see where the new record leads us, shall we?

Opener “U Only Live Twice” – a James Bond title that connects to the album cover and the play-on-words Bond title of the album – comes off as a heavier Ratt, a fat, tough Hard Rock groover with a very direct refrain. A good tune and a perfect opener. If this tune is a guide for how the rest of the album sounds, we just might be in for a treat here. “Sky Falling” continues where the opener left – a rough, sleaze-riffed stadium rocker that shows us how Ratt might have sounded if they had released anything new before all the members started to bail. The verses are a bit calmer than the more upbeat refrain. A damn good song – but why the autotune, Stephen? “Malibu” is more glammy with a clear pop-metal vibe, not a far cry from some of the songs on Ratt’s 1990 album Detonator. It’s a direct tune with a striking chorus that hits the nail right on the head  – very good.

With “One In A Million”, Pearcy lets his Aerosmith influence run wild with its raunchy and gritty groove. It’s big on edgy attitude but quality wise, the tune is a standard rocker. Ok, but not more. The same with “Double Shot”, it’s upbeat, rough and in-your-face with a straight-forward punch but at the same time, it’s a quite forgettable piece that escapes from my mind the second it’s done. “Secrets To Tell” on the other hand brings things back on track. It’s a mid-paced rocker with a huge Aerosmith vibe to it. It’s dark and quite heavy but it also sports some Beatles influences here and there. A totally memorable main melody and a chorus that etches itself to the brain right on the spot. A killer tune and probably the finest track on the record. “Not Killin’ Me” is a mid-paced bouncer, very melodic with a Pop twist, quite soft-ish but still with an edge and very memorable all over. It’s a positive “you can knock me down but I’ll always get back up” message. Very good.

“Dangerous Thing” is a raunchy thing that alters a faster pace and a slower, sleazier groove. But the tune won’t stay with me and comes off as a filler here. “I’m A Ratt” don’t need no closer explanation lyrically. Musically, it’s a faster, rough blaster with a shaking and dirty groove and of course, it’s in the vein of 80’s Ratt (I’m a Ratt, I gotta roll, states Pearcy). It’s an ok song but it doesn’t rock my world. The same goes for “From The Inside”. This somewhat darker rocker is rowdy, tough and heavy with some chugging riffs but it fails to convince me. Ok but not more. Closing track “Violator” is quite beefy and sludgy with a dark and melancholic twist, both heavy and earthy. It holds a mid-paced groove with a punch and even though I thinks at decent track, it lack hooks and in the end, the tune turns out on the forgettable side.

As a whole, this is an uneven album. When it’s good, it’s bloody great but it contains too many fillers and forgettable tracks. That Pearcy is going back to his Ratt roots – something he started to do already on Smash – is to me a good thing. The album was produced and mixed by his bass player (who also handles keyboard duties) Matt Thorne and I’m not saying he’s done bad job, he absolutely hasn’t, but maybe Pearcy is in need of an outside producer. What’s Beau Hill doing these days? Also, the album was co-written by Pearcy and guitarist Erik Ferentinos. Maybe an outside, experienced writer could help out? I dunno, but the good songs proves that there are lots of hooks and catchiness still left in Pearcy so it’s a shame that too many fillers found their way into the track list. Still, half of the album is really good – and this is probably the closest we’ll ever get to a new Ratt album.

6/10

More Stephen Pearcy reviews:

Smash

Tracklist:

1. U Only Live Twice
2. Sky Falling
3. Malibu
4. One In A Million
5. Double Shot
6. Secrets To Tell
7. Not Killin’ Me
8. Dangerous Thing
9. I’m A Ratt
10. From The Inside
11. Violator

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