You’ve gotta love when a band totally commits to their shtick and there really aren’t many others out there in 2014 doing so as wholeheartedly and unapologetically as LA glam-rock revival quartet Steel Panther. Their origins trace as far back as the year 2000 however it wasn’t until Feel The Steel, their 2009 debut that the world started to take notice that there were still some signs of life in the pile of ash that hair-metal went on to become in the wake of the grunge explosion in the early ‘90s. They followed up with Balls Out in 2011 and their penchant for sexually charged puns, big guitars and actually walking the walk of acts like Mötley Crüe, Poison and Guns ‘n’ Roses shows that ultimately, they just wanna party like it’s 1987. Their latest effort All You Can Eat drops this month and serves to do nothing but boldly continue this ethos.
For the uninitiated, the wonderfully irreverent Last Supper parody on the cover gives you a pretty good idea that this is a band who has an uncompromising sense of humour and are certainly not afraid to let it show. Even scanning through the tracklist, titles like Gangbang At The Old Folks Home, F**king My Heart In The Ass and She’s On The Rag tell you in no uncertain terms that these guys are out to gain some attention in their crusade to bring throwback cock-rock to the masses and if you’ve even remotely followed their career over the last few years, it honestly remains uncertain how much irony is intended in the delivery.
Whether they’re pumping their fists on good-time sing-along anthems like Party Like Tomorrow Is The End Of The World or going into no-holds-barred, vivid detail about luck-of-the-draw fellatio on Gloryhole, it seems like Steel Panther exist at the perfect point in history to do what they do: Back in the ‘80s, there’s absolutely no way a band could get away with lyrics as overt as nearly all of All You Can Eat (NB. I’ve listened through several times and there’s truly nothing I’m comfortable transcribing for this article. My family read these!). Now that we’ve culturally relaxed a little more regarding salty language in the mainstream, Steel Panther are free to stop beating around the bush and actually write an incredibly graphic song about Bukkake Tears (If you don’t know what this term means, do yourself a favour and DON’T Google it). That being said, by no means will you be hearing any of these songs on commercial radio but you really can’t imagine them caring for a second.
Musically, All You Can Eat isn’t trying to reinvent the wheel. It covers all the tropes that you’d expect from ‘80s rock: Wailing solos, gut-busting drums, mega-riffs and whiskey-soaked howling vocals that, unlike what “metal” has come to represent, are super melodic. Often you’ll find yourself days later singing an incredibly catchy but incredibly misogynistic line to yourself in the supermarket and be reminded of exactly what got Steel Panther to where they are. It’s easy music to hate, but the widdly-widdly solos and huge glossy hooks are really well executed and at the end of the day, Steel Panther are actually a good enough band to get away with their often truly horrific subject matter. There’s even an appearance by Def Leppard guitarist Vivian Campbell!
You would have to hope that the ridiculous image of rock ‘n’ roll excess they portray to the world is mostly an act, but they still drink enough Jack Daniels to sedate a rhino and stop every show they play to get female audience members onstage to “flash their titties”, so the jury remains out as to whether this is just a good natured rehash of a bygone era or if these guys are legitimately hanging onto some pretty regressive phallocentric ideals that society is far better off without. All You Can Eat marks another step on the unidirectional journey on which Steel Panther set out 14 years ago and goes to show that they have no intentions of slowing down any time soon.