Sound — 8
In 2010, the glam metal icons of the '80s are starting to make nostalgic comebacks again. Some have never gone away, opting to tour with their fellow '80s rockers in the summer to many folks who haven't been able to let go of the past! Others have imploded, never to be heard from again, save for song on those '80s power hours on radio stations! But while many hipsters would rather stick screwdrivers in their ears than admit that they liked the melodic rock that the nut-hugging spandex wearing and Aqua Net toting bands were making, it takes a real man (or woman, for that matter) to come clean about their love for the '80s. Los Angeles-based quintet Ratt are back for more sorry, I had to- with Infestation, an album that has a masters in first-class, catchy chorus-laden glam rock with arena rock drumming that's not too much of a throwback but which still retains the band's hallmarks. Ratt really got it right with Infestation. The album's one-two salvo, the inflammatory "Eat Me Up Alive" and the catchier-than-an-STD "Best of Me," are the type of songs that are like bad roommates: they carve out a space in your brain and they refuse to move outever. They won't leave your memory and most young bands would kill for the ability to craft a song with that type of staying power. Former Quiet Riot guitarist Carlos Cavazo joins the fold, trading licks and leads with Warren DeMartini, easily one of the most overlooked and underappreciated guitarists in rock music who really knows how to let her rip. Aspiring guitarists should covet the tablature on this record. On Infestation, one thing is for certain: Ratt still perform like it's 1986. That is, they play with the same technical skill and songwriting prowess that they always did, which helped them sell millions upon millions of records. You don't capture ears without having bona fide hits and to my ears, "Best of Me" is just that: a hit. One can only hope that the ears don't discriminate. "A Little Too Much" is built on a helluva sceaming riff, while "Lost Weekend" is a modern rock anthem. "As Good As It Gets" is also built on a bluesy, mid-tempo riff that is the most modern Ratt have ever sounded. So is "Garden of Eden." Rare is the band that can move forward while keeping a foot firmly planted in the past. But Ratt pulls it off like it is the easiest thing in the world. The only "sorta" ballad is album closer, "Take Me Home" and it's not a sap fest despite it's slower speed. It's more gloomy than anything and ain't nothing wrong with a little head down here and there.
Lyrics — 8
Stephen Pearcy still sounds like Stephen Pearcy. Sure, he's a little more gravelly, but his nasally vocal style is a Ratt sonic staple and he's still belting out in the same fashion with which he built his reputation. He doesn't sound exactly the same, but he doesn't sound like he's croaking out his words while in pain like many singers do as they age. His lyrics are mostly written to rhyme A-B-C-B style and they explore all the topics you'd expect, like love, sex, life, girls. Despite the iambic pentameter, it's not Shakespeare nor is it rocket science, but it would suck if he tried to be profound. He's writing what he knows to great results. That's what makes it rock 'n f--king roll. Don't believe me on the lyric front? Think about KISS. Like KISS, Ratt's lyrics are meant to be sung along to, not pondered over. If you think too much about these lyrical sentiments, you'll think they're sophomoric. If you just play air guitar and sing along, you'll be too happy to do anything but sing along without thinking about it. While it was Loverboy who sang about working for the weekend and Ratt's "Lost Weekend" surely offers a similar sentiment but it never melts down into the cheesy territory, even if the question, "Are you ready for big fun" is posed!
Overall Impression — 8
Sometimes, coming back for more isn't a good idea for a band that experiences a meteoric rise, a heyday and then a plummeting crash. In Ratt's case, the dawn of grunge, the public's disinterest in glam rock in favor of Nirvana and guitarist Robbin Crosby's debilitating drug use and eventual death were all contributing factors in the band's fall from grace. But like a phoenix rising from its own ashes, Ratt gathered itself and returned with an album that's strong in all facets: melody, riffing, choruses, songwriting, singing, fun glam lyrics. In a situation where it's easy to get it all wrong, Ratt gets it totally right with Infestation. This is easily one of my favorite albums of 2010.