LOWER THE BAR
Released on March 24, 2017 (Steel Panther Inc.)
Lower The Bar — what a great fucking title! Steel Panther may be telling you that they are lowering the bar but in reality they are raising the bar for releasing one great studio album after another! If you loved Steel Panther before, odds are that you will love Steel Panther‘s latest studio album as well because the guys are offering more of the same — ridiculous sexually charged and ahem… demeaning lyrics to women, great guitar riffs, awesome melodies and more sing along moments in one song than most bands can muster in an entire album. If you don’t like Steel Panther, you likely won’t like Lower The Bar but if that’s the case, you should really give your head a shake for not liking likely and arguably the best metal band of the last ten years.
Rightly or wrongly, Steel Panther have been so consistently great in the last eight years or so that I have raised the bar for them when it comes to evaluating their album or live performances compared to other acts. I already know that Steel Panther will be at least good. It’s just a question of whether the comedy metal group will attain the “great” level on any given album or live performance. I have to admit that I wasn’t overly enamoured with the early tracks that were available in advance of the release of Lower The Bar. I was surprised that Steel Panther would choose to release a Cheap Trick cover (“She’s Tight” featuring Cheap Trick singer Robin Zander) given that Steel Panther‘s own original songs are so good. The track “Anything Goes” that was available for streaming was good but not spectacular. It’s not until the video for “Poontang Boomerang” came out that I got really excited for Lower The Bar. “Poontang Boomerang” is a fun song with the video displaying Steel Panther‘s trademark humour and overall silliness, which is simply continuing to bring the fun back into heavy metal. Although I definitely enjoyed Lower The Bar on a first listen, it took me a little while to really warm up to it. That being said, I am now really into Lower The Bar and really, it’s just as good as Balls Out or All You Can Eat with the debut album Feel The Steel still being in my eyes the pinnacle for the band.
As I listened to each track on Lower The Bar, there is only one song — “Now The Fun Starts” — that I can qualify as “weak.” For the great majority of the time, the catchiness, great hooks and infectious melodies are all there. I was thinking why did it take me “so long” (a few listens) to really get into Lower The Bar? I think part of the reason is that Steel Panther‘s songs from prior albums have aged like fine wine and have taken more “significance” to me after hearing them played live. If I think back, I wasn’t crazy about “Gold-Digging Whore” or “Weenie Ride” when I first heard them on Balls Out but after experiencing those songs in a Steel Panther live setting, I now love both of them.
Accordingly, I think it’s worth taking that into account while listening to the songs on Lower The Bar. Almost all of them have the potential to be great concert staples for Steel Panther for many years to come and I suspect that they will take an extra dimension for me if Steel Panther elect to play them live. In that regard, Steel Panther should likely make more efforts to play more of their new songs live because the last few times I saw Steel Panther live, their setlist was heavy on Feel The Steel and Balls Out with only one or two songs from All You Can Eat. How can the new Steel Panther songs get to that next level for people if they don’t get to experience them live?
Alright, enough about that! What about the songs on Lower The Bar? It starts off with a bang with “Goin’ In The Backdoor” which will have you singing along while you can hear some David Lee Roth — I mean Michael Starr — yelps and some cool guitar work. “Anything Goes” starts off with what sounds like some cool guitar harmonies, the lyrics kick off with Steel Panther‘s trademark silly lyrics (“Tie a couple lassos around those tits/Pour syrup on her ass like she’s chicken and grits”) and is a straight out rocker with lots of melody. “Poontang Boomerang” starts off with a killer guitar riff which is inexplicably tossed aside for a totally different melody line. While the whole song is still a fun one with again lots of singing along moments for the live setting, it does seem like a bit of a shame to have wasted away that intro guitar riff.
One of the best tracks on Lower The Bar is next in the form of “That’s When You Came In” which interestingly enough appeared on last year’s Live From Lexxi’s Mom’s Garage album but which takes on a whole new dimension this time around. Wow! What a great song! Why, dare I say — it might even rival “Community Property” or “Girl From Oklahoma.” Lower The Bar does experience a bit of a dip with “Wrong Side Of The Tracks (Out In Beverly Hills)” and especially “Now The Fun Starts” with the latter showing a slightly new U2-ish side (at the start) for Steel Panther. “Now The Fun Starts” is the worst song on the album but that being said, it’s still enjoyable and that’s a good sign when an album’s weakest track is still a good one to listen to.
Luckily, Steel Panther are back on track with the aptly named “Pussy Ain’t Free” which borrows from a lot of the band’s prior songs. The verses remind me of classic David Lee Roth era Van Halen. “Wasted Too Much Time” is a faster paced ballad that is tailor made for the live setting and some massive sing alongs with lyrics such as “Wasted too much time fucking you.” Although Steel Panther had the foresight to shoot a video for “I Got What You Want”, I am a little surprised to see this amazing track buried as “song number nine” on Lower The Bar. The melodies for the pre-chorus suck you right in and it’s almost impossible not to sing along to. And props have to go to Starr for letting out a few classic David Lee Roth like screams throughout the song. “Walk Of Shame” starts off with an up tempo blues-ish beginning that for whatever reason reminds me of Poison in a good way. The track is a fun up tempo song that again would most likely translate live really well. Lower The Bar ends with Steel Panther‘s fun cover of Cheap Trick‘s 1982 released “She’s Tight” which happens to have none other than Cheap Trick‘s frontman Robin Zander making what can only be described as a neat cameo vocal performance.
There you have it. Steel Panther deliver the goods once again. We’ve just passed the one quarter mark for 2017 and this year is shaping up to be one of the easiest years to come up with the records that will comprise the Sleaze Roxx‘s top ten albums year end list because the best albums stand out head above the rest. Lower The Bar is one of those albums. Forget about lowering the bar, Steel Panther keep raising the bar in terms of putting out one great album after another.
01. Goin’ In The Backdoor
02. Anything Goes
03. Poontang Boomerang
04. That’s When You Came In
05. Wrong Side Of The Tracks (Out In Beverly Hills)
06. Now The Fun Starts
07. Pussy Ain’t Free
08. Wasted Too Much Time
09. I Got What You Want
10. Walk Of Shame
11. She’s Tight feat. Robin Zander
Michael Starr – vocals
Satchel – guitar
Stix Zadinia – drums
Lexxi Foxx – bass
Rudy Sarzo – bass (5)
Michael Catton – background vocals (9)
Chris Catton – background vocals (9)
Robin Zander – cameo vocals (11)
Produced by Jay Ruston and Steel Panther
Mixed and engineered by Jay Ruston
Additional engineers: Francesco Cameli, Nick Rucker and John Douglass
Assistant engineer: Jared Scott
Mastered by Paul Logus
Reviewed by Olivier for Sleaze Roxx, April 2017
Steel Panther‘s “I Got What You Want” video:
Steel Panther – I Got What You WantThe official video filmed during the sold out 2016 UK Arena tourNew Album, “Lower the Bar”, available March 24th! Pre-orde…
Steel Panther‘s “Poontang Boomerang” video:
Steel Panther – Poontang BoomerangNew Album, “Lower the Bar”, available now!iTunes: http://smarturl.it/sp_ltb_itunesAmazon: http://smarturl.it/sp_ltb_amazonE…
Steel Panther‘s “She’s Tight” video feat. Robin Zander:
Steel Panther – She’s Tight (feat. Robin Zander of Cheap Trick)New Album, “Lower the Bar”, available now!iTunes: http://smarturl.it/sp_ltb_itunesAmazon: http…