Review Summary: Forget the Mayan prophecy. If Steel Panther ever write a song that doesn't mention their cocks in some way, we'll know the apocalypse is here.
Steel Panther like to get straight to the point. Instead of trying to cleverly dance around subject matter intended only for mature audiences or incorporate thinly veiled innuendos with tongues stealthily planted in cheeks, they just come right out and write songs like “It Won’t Suck Itself” and have yet to pen a track that does not mention tits, baby gravy, drugs, STD’s, hookers, or their c*cks in some fashion. Parody is often rooted in irony, and while it’s ironic lead singer Michael Star actually holds a PHD in English literature yet writes lines like “Hit her in the sh*tter/treat her like a critter/f*ck your lady right/hit her in the sh*tter treat her like a critter/f*ck her poopy-chute,” it’s difficult to discern if they are indeed a tribute/parody band or if these guys are actually serious. Steel Panther’s mantra is to shamelessly ape the nostalgic power of hair metal with the much needed horsepower of lyrics that make 2 Live Crew sound like DC Talk, yet we are left questioning their true intentions because the music, at least in accordance with the genre, is simply outstanding.
The formula for hair metal is simple; there isn’t much beyond power chord riffs that usually segue into a melodic chorus with a fast yet probably simple guitar solo and vocals that routinely tradeoff from faux tenderness to nut-curdling wails. In other words, Steel Panther writes songs like Def Leppard and Don Dokken did but instead of talking about photographs and animals and unchaining the night they champion the cause of the abhorrent stripper that blew Justin Bieber at the petting zoo. Steel Panther’s undeniably sophomoric lyrics might have some ironic snark value if the music was terrible but demand a new level of appreciation in collision with well-executed c*ck rock. There are flavors of virtually every relevant hair band plastered all over “Balls Out” just like there was on their superior previous opus “Feel the Steel,” and they somehow continue to routinely outperform the very sages they are trying to emulate. Only Steel Panther can manage to have Chad Kroeger guest on a song about demanding strippers to gum their knobs and carrying a riff that clearly rips off Motely Crue and end up out Crue-ing Motely themselves. “Just Like Tiger Woods” and it’s wall-of-sound stadium-sized chorus is more Def Leppard than any post “Adrenalize” Leppard cut, the outrageously melodic yet filthy “Weenie Ride” is the power ballad Warrant’s Jani Lane absolutely would have written in the 80’s if Tipper Gore had never existed, and when Brett Michaels hears “17 Girls in a Row” he’s going to be insanely pissed off he didn’t think of the hook in 1987 while spending most of his time banging Hollywood trannies and mainlining equidistant IVs of Jack Daniels and insulin.
The best way to describe Steel Panther is imagine if Jon Bon Jovi, the dude from Ratt, Kip Winger, George Lynch, Joe Elliot, Nikki Sixx, and Tracii Guns collaborated on an album at their absolute peaks, only they didn’t have to worry about being censored or toning down the narratives of their sexual escapades. Steel Panther are rare because they clearly understand who they are trying to ape yet are one of the few parody acts that actually ends up being better than the original influence. If Steel Panther existed in 1986 exactly as they do today hair metal would probably not be as rivaled as it once was and still is in un-ironic forms. Of course none of us would have heard their powerful social commentary and the cost benefit analysis of banging a filthy groupie that is practically wearing a sign exclaiming exactly how disease ridden her nether-regions are, but in the end there is nothing more rock n roll than that. Steel Panther’s demographic is obviously hair metal fanatics, but there is a reason they sell out almost every live show in minutes while playing an almost universally reviled form of music. Of course it’s hilarious to anyone with an appreciation for sophomoric humor, but it simply wouldn’t matter if it didn’t sound phenomenal.