HEAVY METAL RULES
Released on September 27, 2019 (Steel Panther Inc.)
One of the most anticipated albums of the year for me has to be Steel Panther‘s fifth studio album Heavy Metal Rules. I know that many dismiss the band based on its comedy “schtick” but the reality is that Steel Panther have released one, if not two, of my favorite albums of the last decade. For the uninitiated, I am talking about Steel Panther‘s phenomenal debut album Feel The Steel in 2009 and the almost as good follow up Balls Out in 2011. The next two Steel Panther albums — All You Can Eat (2014) and Lower The Bar (2017) — were good, but not quite as great, records and I was really hoping that the band would kick it up a notch back to the level of the first two albums with the release of Heavy Metal Rules. Before I get into Heavy Metal Rules, I must say that I hold Steel Panther to a higher standard than most bands. While I am often content with two or three killer tracks on a record, I expect more from Steel Panther and unfortunately, with high expectations often comes a high degree of disappointment.
I’ve got to confess that I was a bit disappointed when I heard the first single “All I Wanna Do is Fuck (Myself Tonight)” although it is really catchy and will no doubt be a live staple for many, many years to come. My slight disappointment turned to cringe level when I heard the ballad “Always Gonna Be A Ho.” The track definitely has some witty lyrics such as “Has your vagina never seen the shade?” but where are the cool hooks? The song might even work well live (I’ll likely see in December when I catch Steel Panther live in Toronto, Ontario, Canada) but the track is really a bit on the boring side and I am often tempted to skip it when listening to Heavy Metal Rules. My cringe level then turned to simply being underwhelmed with the next released track “Gods of Pussy.” Sure, Satchel‘s guitar solo is a thing of beauty and there are some cool Van Halen influences that you can pick up while listening to the song but the chorus is quite dull and the verses not that much better. I got to say that I was seriously worried by that time that Steel Panther would not deliver the goods with Heavy Metal Rules. The last song released prior to the official release date of the album was “Fuck Everybody” which was back to more familiar territory with better hooks, melodies and an easy to sing along chorus.
Usually a band will release its strongest songs as a preview to get people to pre-order / buy its new record so by this time, I was quite concerned that Steel Panther‘s new offering Heavy Metal Rules would not meet my lofty expectations and not measure up to even All That You Can Eat and Lower The Bar. I am sad to say that this is indeed the case. Steel Panther have for the first time released an album with only a handful of really decent songs and with unfortunately and surprisingly, a couple of stinkers. I do note that this is the shortest Steel Panther studio album ever with only nine songs given that the opening track “Zebraman” is really just an audio clip from the film Heavy Metal Parking Lot. I know that at one point Steel Panther apparently lost their entire recordings for this album as frontman Michael Starr explained in an interview with The Metal Voice that bassist Lexxi Foxx had taken the hard drives from the recording sessions and accidentally dropped them on the ground resulting in the files being gone with no back ups. Did that play a factor with the subpar material that can be found on Heavy Metal Rules and the album only containing nine actual songs? I don’t know but I was expecting nine killer tracks from Steel Panther with only nine actual songs on the record.
As it turns out, there are only four songs that I think are at the usual lofty level that I hold Steel Panther to. There’s the first single “All I Wanna Do Is Fuck (Everybody Tonight)” which will surely be an anthem and concert staple for the band for many years to come. I can easily see audience members pumping their fists while singing “Fuck, Fuck” when Starr sings the words “All I Wanna Do Is…”. That song is a winner even if I felt slightly disappointed when I first heard it. I have warmed up to it and really like it now. “Fuck Everybody” has some good hooks and melodies, and is worthwhile to listen to with its easy to sing along to chorus. “I’m Not Your Bitch” has a cool guitar riff upon which it is based upon, some classic Michael Starr vocals including some David Lee Roth like yelps and some good melodies overall. The last good song is “Sneaky Little Bitch” although for whatever reason, it feels like Steel Panther have kind of regurgitated this song from a couple of their songs from previous albums.
Sadly, there are more tracks that I consider skipping on Heavy Metal Rules than there are that I want to really listen to. “Let’s Get High Tonight” starts off pretty strong but the melodies during the verses are pretty lame and remind me of one of the weaker songs on Lower The Bar. It just feels like it’s already been done before by the band. When I first found out about the title of Steel Panther‘s latest album, I really thought that it was brilliant and long overdue since at just about every Steel Panther show, you can hear guitarist Satchel saying “Heavy Metal Rules.” I would have thought that any song with that title would be the ultimate anthem for the band but instead it is arguably the most underwhelming song on the record. The chorus portion is about as strong as the ones for Judas Priest‘s tracks “Heavy Metal” or “Defenders of The Faith” off the Defenders of The Faith album. Sure, the song “Heavy Metal Rules” kicks it up a notch about halfway when Satchel‘s solo kicks in but by then, it’s too late. My interest is lost. I’ve already covered “Always Gonna Be A Ho” and “Gods of Pussy” so I won’t cover them again. Heavy Metal Rules ends with “I Ain’t Buying What You’re Selling” which is a half decent ballad but not the way that I want the record to end after a number of underwhelming songs.
Overall, Heavy Metal Rules is the weakest Steel Panther album to date. Even if you combined the best tracks on Lower The Bar and Heavy Metal Rules, they still would not match up to Feel The Steel or Balls Out, and that is a real concern for Steel Panther going forward. The witty lyrics are still there but the killer hooks and melodies that were so prevalent on the first two Steel Panther albums are just not always there anymore and it is really obvious on Heavy Metal Rules that the band has lost a little of its edge in that regard. That being said, I suspect that the songs that I am not fond of off Heavy Metal Rules will grow on me once I hear them in a live setting (just like the tracks for Balls Out) but for the first time ever, a Steel Panther studio album is at a real risk of not appearing on Sleaze Roxx‘s year end top album list.
02. All I Wanna Do Is Fuck (Myself Tonight)
03. Let’s Get High Tonight
04. Always Gonna Be A Ho
05. I’m Not Your Bitch
06. Fuck Everybody
07. Heavy Metal Rules
08. Sneaky Little Bitch
09. Gods of Pussy
10. I Ain’t Buying What You’re Selling
Satchel – guitar
Lexxi Foxx – bass
Michael Starr – vocals
Stix Zadinia – drums
Audio from Heavy Metal Parking Lot courtesy of filmmakers Jeff Krulik and John Heyn
Produced by Steel Panther and Jay Ruston
Engineered by Francesco Cameli and Jay Ruston
Mixed by Jay Ruston
Additional engineering by John Douglass
Assisted by Daniel Morris and Alejandro Baima
Mastered by Paul Logus
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, October 2019
Steel Panther‘s “All I Wanna Do Is Fuck (Myself Tonight)” video:
New Album, “Heavy Metal Rules”, available Sept 27th 2019!
Steel Panther‘s “Always Gonna Be A Ho” video:
New Album, “Heavy Metal Rules”, available Sept 27th 2019! Pre-Order/Pre-Save/Stream: https://lnk.to/HeavyMetalRules Follow Steel Panther: Official site: http://steelpantherrocks.com/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/steelpanther Twitter: https://twitter.com/Steel_Panther Instagram: http://instagram.com/steelpanther I fell in love With someone sweet and pure But you became The worldʼs biggest whore I went away for a few weeks or more You fucked more dudes Than I fucked girls on the tour How can it be?
Steel Panther‘s “Gods of Pussy” single:
Provided to YouTube by The Orchard Enterprises Gods of Pussy · Steel Panther Gods of Pussy ℗ 2019 Steel Panther Inc Released on: 2019-09-06 Producer: Steel Panther Producer: Jay Ruston Auto-generated by YouTube.