by: Ratt

Ratt' s first album in 11 years and their seventh overall (1997's Collage is a generally disowned odds-and-sods affair), 2010's Infestation turned the page on a decade-long nightmare for the ‘80s glam metal legends; a decade that was rife with personal and legal strife culminating in competing touring entities led by different estranged bandmembers and, most tragic of all, the death of founding guitarist Robbin Crosby in 2002. But just when most fans and detractors alike had given the band up as a hopeless cause, original members Stephen Pearcy, Warren DeMartini, and Bobby Blotzer managed to bury their hatchets long enough to recruit former Quiet Riot stalwart Carlos Cavazo, call on sometime bassist Robbie Craine, and sign a new deal with heavy metal HQ Roadrunner Records. The resulting Infestation was then conceived with every intention of traveling back in time -- all the way to 1985's Invasion of Your Privacy, to be precise -- for the sounds and songwriting inspiration guiding standout tracks like "Eat Me Up Alive," "Best of Me," and "Lost Weekend," which find guitarists DeMartini and Cavazo peeling off crisp, echoing staccato riffs and flashy lead runs as though grunge had never happened. These six-string histrionics buttress those often irresistible gang choruses, so typical of Ratt's platinum-coated heyday, and also crucial to supporting/masking lead singer Stephen Pearcy's well-known limitations. Although, to be fair, vocal acrobatics were rarely a top priority for a generation weaned on David Lee Roth-era Van Halen, whose legacy obviously towers over much of Ratt' s work, and certainly unapologetic new odes to excess like "A Little Too Much," "Last Call," and the slow grinding "As Good as it Gets." That's not to say that the familiar formulas reprised here don't grow tiresome after a while, yielding some late album filler material like the mindless drivel of "Take a Big Bite" and lone ballad "Take Me Home," which once again confirms Ratt's career-long ineptitude with the form (a badge of honor, some might say, since Ratt succeeded without ballads while the vast majority of their peers absolutely depended on them for success). In the end, though, even these deficiencies contribute the authentic feel achieved by Infestation: its songs may not radiate enough magic by 2010's musical standards, but could very well have been arena-packing hits in another era; and so the album exceeds expectations on many levels, not least by sounding and feeling like the first legitimate Ratt album since the distant '80s. ~ Eduardo Rivadavia

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