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Stephen Pearcy - Smash

Stephen Pearcy
by Anna Chase at 13 April 2017, 9:45 AM

It’s safe to say that Stephen Pearcy is pretty much a household name among metal fans, especially those around in the eighties. As lead singer of the Hard Rock-Metal fusion act RATT, Pearcy enjoyed his fifteen minutes of fame before going on to develop a solo act revolving around his vocals and guitar playing. With him at the lead, RATT reached its peak in 1984 with the release of “Out of the Cellar” and its smash hit “Round and Round.” Though the band has fallen a bit from the public eye in the 21st century, Pearcy’s involvement with RATT is still well known among that era of metal heads. However, many people are unaware of his solo act, which is a shame. He released his first, and probably best, solo album, “Social Intercourse”, in ‘02 and since then has released three others, culminating in the production of “Smash”, Pearcy’s latest work, in 2017. Sadly, Pearcy’s three solo albums between 2005 and 2017 were a bit of a miss for me, but I had high hopes for his latest release due to his glowing reputation as a Rock icon.

The intro to the first track, “I Know I’m Crazy,” is an eerily captivating synth that oozes 80’s nostalgia. It soon explodes into a distorted, chugging riff before switching over into muted electric guitar. I absolutely loved this song, Pearcy’s vocals clicked perfectly into place with all the elements of this track and it had enough heaviness to keep my attention and classify it as Metal. “Ten Miles Wide” is another banger of a song that sounded like it came right off of a RATT album. The riffs were sleazy and oozed 80’s, while D’Angelo’s drum track whipped the track into shape by adding a steady yet complex background rhythm. The solo in this song was pure electricity, and the catchy chorus gave it the sense of a single.

“Shut Down Baby” was a solid song, but wasn’t quite on the level of its two precursors. The track had a groovy Blues influence, but the riffs were a bit repetitive and the drums were easily the star of the song. There was potential there, but Pearcy’s confidence and Rock n’ Roll swagger just didn’t shine through like it did in the first two tracks. However, the next song, “Dead Roses,” roared into my ears and easily became my favorite one on the album. It’s on par, dare I say, even better, than RATT’s top chart hits in the 80’s and exemplifies the Hard Rock attitude perfectly. It’s one of the heaviest songs I think Pearcy has ever played, and the style works exceptionally well for him. His vocals have a threateningly seductive tone and blend perfectly with Ferentinos’s ripping guitar riffs and the thumping drumbeats. This song is a thrilling Metal journey through his experiences with toxic love, and Pearcy adds just the right amount of anger and brash righteousness to the track.

“Lollipop” is a huge change in style from the song before. It’s a typical 80’s sleaze Rock track, chock-full of double entendres and Pearcy’s twanging vocals. The guitars are slightly reminiscent of GUNS N’ ROSES’ riffs, and overall it’s a fun, sing-able track, which makes it clear Pearcy still has the aggressively flirtatious vibe that established him as a bad boy heartthrob in the 80’s. “Jamie” is another obviously RATT-influenced track, which introduces the new, heavier sound that I enjoy so much. The thumping background guitar provides the perfect underlay for the catchy lead riff and Pearcy’s assertive yells. The spot for the star of this track is a tie between Pearcy and Ferentinos, who work together flawlessly to create a perfect Hard Rock love song.

“I Can’t Take It” is an electrically charged, guitar focused song with squealing riffs and a Pop-Metal sound that has already established it as a favorite of Pearcy’s live shows. His vocalizations and the solo elevate this track and, though it’s short, it packs a punch. “Passion Infinity” wasn’t one of my favorite tracks I have to admit. Every album has to have a weakness, and I think this was Pearcy’s. The riffs didn’t present the level of complexity I was looking for, and the reverb on the guitar was a bit clichéd. The solo was great, Ferentinos is insanely talented, but the track just didn’t stand out, especially compared to the other ones on “Smash”. The album’s last song, “Summer’s End,” is pretty obviously influenced by LED ZEPPELIN and the like. However, Pearcy puts his own spin on it and the quieter drum track and slow riffs make the song into a beautiful seventies-inspired ballad.

Overall, “Smash” is definitely Pearcy’s best solo album so far. It gives the listener catchy hit after hit, and introduces a variety of styles ranging from synth ballads to Heavy Metal. Yes, it’s increasingly similar to RATT, and some songs were weaker than others, but overall it’s an electric, confident album that will be enjoyed by anyone looking for a bit of modern-day 80’s nostalgia.

Songwriting: 8
Originality: 6
Memorability: 8
Production: 8

4 Star Rating

1. I Know I’m Crazy
2. Ten Miles Wide
3. Shut Down Baby
4. Dead Roses
5. Lollipop
6. Hit Me With a Bullet
7. Rain
8. Want Too Much
9. What Do Ya Think
10. Jamie
11. I Can’t Take It
12. Passion Infinity
13. Summer’s End
Stephen Pearcy- lead vocals, guitar
Erik Ferentinos- lead guitar, backing vocals
Matt Thorne- bass, keyboard
Greg D’Angelo- drums
Frankie Wilsey- guitar, backing vocals
Record Label: Frontiers Records


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