Steel Panther – ‘Heavy Metal Rules’

By Catie

A decade after the release of their first studio album, ‘Feel The Steel’, you’d hope that Californian hair metal band Steel Panther would have grown up – or at least become a little more aware of social and political issues. Five albums later, ‘Heavy Metal Rules’ has been released, and whilst it doesn’t have quite the same offensive sting, it doesn’t offer anything else either.

Lyrically ‘Feel The Steel’ hasn’t aged well but, at the time, it had an element of novelty and drew a smile. ‘Heavy Metal Rules’ is a watered down version that would bore a seasoned listener with its relentless swearing and repetition, and has nothing new to offer the younger audience that it seems they’re swinging for. There’s something uncomfortable about a group of 40 to 50-something-year-old men opening an album with the voice of a teenage boy talking about how “punk shit sucks”. Not to mention the opening of track three, ‘Let’s Get High Tonight’: “Mom and dad are out of town / Call the whores it’s going down”.

In a cheap throwaway to the present day we’re reassured that ecstasy and shrooms are gluten free, but it seems Steel Panther haven’t got the memo that in 2019 misogyny (CC: ‘Gods of Pussy’ – “Gods of pussy / Gods of pussy / Give ‘em a slap / Give ‘em the clap”) and toxic masculinity (CC: ‘I’m Not Your Bitch’ – “Give me a back rub, snuggle after sex / This kind of stuff will turn you into my ex”, “Time may be here to lay down the law / Don’t make me beat you with my Panther paw”) aren’t acceptable, or that penis jokes aren’t funny if you’re over the age of 12.

It’s not even worth unpicking the rest of ‘Heavy Metal Rules’ in too much detail. ‘You’ll Always Be A Ho’ is somehow catchy and there are strong riffs in ‘Fuck Everybody’, but this album still isn’t worth listening to. It’s a shame because Michael Starr, Satchel, Lexxi Foxx, and Stix Zadinia have talent to rival the likes of their idols Van Halen and Judas Priest, but show an embarrassing unwillingness to evolve.

Humour is, of course, subjective, and the tropes of sex, drugs and rock and roll are the building blocks of the genre. But, it wouldn’t be that hard to turn the tropes on their head: celebrate sexuality and empower sex workers, explore rebellion and escapism, rejoice in the incredible over-the-topness of 80s-inspired hair metal; gratuitous riffs, catchy lyrics and excessive styling backed up with solid musical ability. Heavy metal isn’t dead yet, but it’s in dire need of a revolution.

CATIE ALLWRIGHT

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