RATT - Infestation (2010) Apr 28, 2010 1:30:55 GMT -5
Post by Erik Rupp on Apr 28, 2010 1:30:55 GMT -5
RATT's back! Let's party like it's 1985!
Well, that's not all that far off from the truth as RATT has put out their first album in eleven years. Their last album (a self titled 1999 release) was their first all new studio album in 9 years at that point, so they haven't exactly been really busy as a recording band over the last twenty years.
There have been some changes since their heyday, however, as Robbin Crosby, one of the co-founders of the band and a major force in their songwriting early on died in 2002, and original bass Juan Croucier has not been part of the band since the early 90's. You'd never know it from listening to Infestation, though.
Infestation really picks up where Dancing Undercover left off in 1986. It skips the poppier elements of Reach for the Sky and has more of the classic RATT sound than did their 1999 album (which went for more of a straightforward Blues influenced Hard Rock approach and left out the Van Halenisms that gave their 80's material it's identifiable sound). Infestation doesn't sound terribly dated, despite it's somewhat retro sound, and if that sounds like something of a contradiction, it may well be.
While just about everything on the new album sounds like it could have come out of the 80's, it also sounds fresh and does have some new elements that weren't present on RATT albums back then. There aren't too many of those new elements (like a slightly darker tone on, "Look Out Below," and a rawer sound than on any of their studio recordings since their original E.P. from 1983), but even with the subtle updatings on their sound (very subtle), it does give the album a fresh sound that sounds almost as much 2010 as it does 1986.
Give producer Michael (Elvis) Baskette some of the credit for the freshness and quality of the songs on the album (he did co-write several of them), but also give the band credit for knowing what kind of album they wanted to record this time out. An unapologetic RATT album.
The current line-up for RATT includes long time RATT men Stephen Pearcy on vocals, guitar hero Warren DeMartini, and Bobby Blotzer on drums. They are joined by bass player Robbie Crane, who has been in the band ever since their 1999 album, and former Quiet Riot guitar player Carlos Cavazo. Recruiting Cavazo was a real coup for the band as they not only got a very good guitar player to complement DeMartini, but they also got a player who could also make some excellent contributions as a songwriter.
Such as the album's opening track, the fiery and uptempo, "Eat Me Up Alive." This song shows some of the band's musical Judas Priest-isms that were present in their early material. At the same time, it also shows the kind of the vocal melodies more associated with their later albums, Reach for the Sky and Detonator. It's a combination that works very well and makes for a great way to get the album off to a flying start.
And on Infestation, like on many good melodic Heavy Metal (or Hard Rock) albums, the second song is more commercial and accessible. Here that song is, "Best of Me," another song that Cavazo had a hand in writing (along with Stephen Pearcy and producer Michael Baskette). This is a great RATT song. It really crosses over a lot of familiar ground for the band - from the slick but still fairly heavy Invasion of Your Privacy to Reach for the Sky to Detonator, "Best of Me," takes elements from each of those albums and puts them all together in one infectiously catchy package. Had this song come out in 1988 it would have been a huge MTV and FM radio hit. As it is it's still a very effective song and could still win back some of those fans who loved the band twenty or more years ago.
From there the album just keeps moving forward like a steamroller. It's not Megadeth heavy, but it's heavy in that RATT and Roll way (it's a bit Heavy Metal, a bit Rock and Roll, and just a tad Pop). "A Little Too Much," is a solid four on a five scale upper mid tempo track, and the aforementioned, "Look Out Below," is a bit darker, a bit more 90's influenced (not a lot, but a little), but it still fits in with the rest of the album perfectly and makes for a great album cut.
"Last Call," picks the tempo back up, and it's the kinetic energy that keeps the album flowing perfectly. It's catchy, energizing, and a lot of fun. As if executing a game plan to near perfection the band moves to another upper mid tempo song next with, "Lost Weekend," and like it's predecessors this is a fun, catchy song with a lot of energy. By this point it becomes pretty clear - RATT and Roll is back in business! Is it possible that RATT really has delivered the kind of album that bands making comebacks boast about? Yes, they have.
So is the next song really, "As Good As it Gets?" Maybe not, but it's still a good track - a solid slower mid tempo album cut with a fairly strong chorus - and the next song, "Garden of Eden," is even stronger. This Pearcy/DeMartini track is dynamic, with tempo changes, slight mood changes, and a BIG chorus. This is yet another song on Infestation that is just as good as (if not better than) most of their 1980's material. If you listen to it I just dare you to try to not bob your head up and down or tap your foot - or get the damned thing out of your head! Good stuff, indeed.
As is, "Take a Big Bite," another uptempo song with the usual RATT style chorus. Again, it's BIG, it's fun, and it's everything that RATT fans have wanted for the last 20 years.
Then things get interesting (and slightly more modern) with, "Take Me Home," which sounds like a cross between classic RATT and something out of the 90's (via Seattle). It's almost a power ballad, but it's also a little different (the vocal melodies in the verses are somewhat reminiscent of Ozzy Osbourne's, "You Can't Kill Rock and Roll," while the guitar parts are just a little grungier). The use of synthesizers is very effective here, as they give the song more dynamics and depth than it would have had otherwise. This is another amazingly catchy track, one that also has a little more substance than RATT is usually given credit for.
They bring the album to a close with, "Don't Let Go," another uptempo track. This one is probably the least effective song on the album, but it's still a good track. It's got energy and enthusiasm behind it, and it grows on you. For what would otherwise be called the, "Weak link," on the album this is pretty darned good.
All killer - no filler. It's an old ad slogan, something that a lot of bands have said over the last three decades to describe their latest albums. Usually it isn't true, but in this case it is. RATT has delivered an album where not a single song is less than a four on a five scale for this genre.
Even the audio production is top notch. The guitar tones are good, the drums are well recorded and mixed - and the thing has a sound that is somewhat polished, but still has some (intentionally) rough edges. Baskette can take some of the credit for that as well.
Is this the best RATT album ever? Probably not, but it hangs in there as an equal with the best of them (RATT, Out of the Cellar, Invasion of Your Privacy, and Dancing Undercover). Thirty or so years into their career, and after a recording hiatus of eleven years, they can't ask for more than that. And neither can anyone else. Infestation is a great RATT album.