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Nasty Ratz - Second Chance Award winner

Nasty Ratz
Second Chance
by Kira Schletcher at 23 February 2020, 4:07 AM

Europe is weirdly turning out to be the center of the renaissance of glam/sleaze metal. The latest city to stand in for the Sunset Strip is Prague, home of NASTY RATZ, who’ve just released their second full album, “Second Chance?” Their EP, “I Don’t Wanna Care,” arrived in 2014, followed by their full-length debut, “First Bite,” a year later. The questioning title, “Second Chance?” comes as a result of the band losing three-fourths of its members at one shot, singer Jake said in an interview on the website.

It starts with the CRUE-like “The Waste,” showing off the Xriss and Randy rhythm section and introducing us to Jake’s vaguely punk snarl. “Against the World” has great punch and energy and sass, with Jake delivering a gravelly growl and all four serving up some sweet harmony in the prechorus. It’s appealingly sloppy, but not playing-wise – they are all certainly capable, if definitely low-fi. “Let’s Drive” has a chugging groove and lots of bottom, with Jake’s voice oozing along underneath. The best aspect of him as a singer is how he doesn’t try to be more than what he is – he just goes with what he’s got and it’s perfect for the material.

The more midtempo “Right Now” is darker, with a main guitar riff that’s appealingly sloppy and drippy. The icy chill of Jake’s screaming in the chorus juxtaposes nicely with the warmth of the guitar melody. Of course there has to be a power ballad, because glam, and here it’s “The Last Kiss” (think “Patience” or “Every Rose Has Its Thorn”). It’s a little shabby around the edges, especially with Jake’s voice, and the lead-in to the chorus is a little awkward, but those aren’t fatal flaws. Jordy’s soulful solo is just as it’s supposed to be, all heartfelt and weepy, with all those customary chord progressions, but wait – the whole thing gets kicked in the ass tempo-wise with the last chorus, which takes the sap out of it and gives it some bite. It’s like I stopped feeling sorry for myself and now I’m just pissed, dammit!

“Watch Your Back” features a drifting piano melody that’s barely audible, but it adds a ton of texture. The harmonies are dead-on, and the chorus is a major earworm. It’s retro but that’s OK, because they don’t do it absolutely perfectly – it’s not polished, just buffed a little. “Pop Shit” starts out acoustic and poor-me, with what sounds like a female voice accompanying Jake, but then it gets all nice and thrashy and punky – think early GREEN DAY in some ways. It’s such fun, with a rhyming couplet for the ages (“so tell me how you missed me/And how you should have kissed me”), a terrific breakdown, and soaring harmonies, plus some instrument drifting through the background that I swear is a bagpipe. It’s a kick.

“Street Kids” is all AEROSMITH – that low, beefy, stomping, swinging groove with the organ and cowbell, full of spit and attitude. If the harmonies in the chorus were a bit more defined and produced, it’d be even more effective. The modulation at the end works really well, too. You have to admire the band’s overall restraint – glam is obviously known for its excess, but they keep everything tight and immediate, including guitar solos.

“Price of Love” was produced by Beau Hill of RATT and WARRANT fame (he heard them on the radio and contacted them – how crazy is that?). It definitely sounds different production-wise, and it tidies them up a little too much and makes them sound more retro – and not in a good way. The closer, “Poetic Justice” goes back to raw reality, thank you.

“Second Chance?” somehow sounds new now and completely without irony. Yeah, we’ve heard it before, but it’s been 30 years, after all. NASTY RATZ followed the ‘80s playbook – the sing-alongs, the anthemic qualities, the solid harmonies and melodies – but they didn’t take it as terribly seriously as their predecessors once did.

Songwriting: 8
Musicianship: 9
Memorability: 9
Production: 7

4 Star Rating

1. The Waste
2. Against the World
3. Let’s Drive
4. Right Now
5. The Last Kiss
6. Watch Your Back
7. Pop Shit
8. Street Kids
9. Price of Love
10. Poetic Justice
Jake Widow - Vocals
Jordy Riot - Guitar, Vocals
Xriss String - Bass, Vocals
Randy Dee - Drums, Vocals
Record Label: Sleaszy Rider Records


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