Saturday, 5 September 2009

Steel Panther - Feel The Steel

Quickly dismissed as little more than a novelty band by some, Steel Panther have more to offer than penis jokes. That’s not to say there isn’t a lot of penis jokes, but thankfully it’s backed by some genuinely enjoyable music. The album itself effectively acts as a fan-service to 80s/90s hard rock fans making constant references to glam’s hey-day. Aside from singer Michael Starr being a near dead-ringer for Van Halen’s David Lee Roth, the music itself constantly nods the band's influences without coming across as completely dated thanks to modern production and tongues being kept firmly in cheek.

From the casual racism of ‘Asian Hooker’ to the insipid claims of ‘Eatin’ Ain’t Cheatin’, Feel The Steel is loaded with crude and occasionally cringe-worthy humour from start to finish. Whilst some of the songs are genuinely amusing (single ‘Death To All But Metal’ will appeal to the defiant and elitist side of any classic metal fan), half the time the lyrics come off as nothing more than idiotic. Presumably, the band are poking fun at the overt sexual nature of their idols’ songs by taking it further than any of their predecessors ever did, but it often falls flat. However, when this is the case, the strong musical body ofthe tracks more than makes up for it. Steel Panther are highly proficient musicians and, more importantly, good song-writers. The album is filled to the prim with great rock riffs, brilliantly catchy vocal melodies and some truly face-melting guitar solos – the three core ingredients to any kind of good hair metal. Obligatory ballad ‘Fat Girl (Thar She Blows)’ and rocker ‘Party All Day (Fuck All Night)’ show the band wearing their influences on their sleeve, channelling their inner Bon Jovi whereas acoustic cut ‘Girl From Oklahama’ goes as far as to mimic the famous chord progression of Extreme’s ‘More than Words’. Interestingly, the album features a number of guest appearances with Justin Hawkins of The Darkness / Hot Leg fame lending his voice, further cementing Steel Panther’s message that rock doesn’t have to be completely serious to be enjoyable.

The light-hearted nature of the album seems to be both a blessing and a curse, as Steel Panther’s downfall is that they don’t take themselves seriously enough. You could be forgiven for thinking they were trying almost too hard with the amount of ridiculous sexual innuendo that engulfs the entire album. Their finer moments are when they tone down the gag-making and deliver solid rock and metal songs. Regardless of their over the top lyrical nature though, this is a very strong album throughout. The songs are all written with a brilliant sense of melody and a flare for guitar-based tomfoolery that is quite rare to find. There is a genuine appreciation for the hard rock and metal acts of old displayed throughout the album and Steel Panther do a great job of amalgamating some of the best aspects of their inspiration in to something slightly more modern.

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