Album Review: Steel Panther – On The Prowl3 min read
Steel Panther came under scrutiny in 2018 after guitarist Satchel created a guitar pedal with TC Electronic listed under the name “Pussy Melter”. This blunder didn’t typify what Steel Panther are these days as much as their response: they doubled down, independently bringing out their own new version of the “Pussy Melter” pedal. On The Prowl is similarly unapologetic—and grotesque—redirecting the satire of their mock metal act into a lament of modern times and the unacceptable things that…aren’t acceptable to say anymore. But their biggest mistake is not making themselves, and their pastiche of hair metal, the joke anymore. Steel Panther are more serious here about actually being a hair metal band, pining for the old glory days of that genre on songs like 1987.
The lewd connotations of the title On The Prowl is an early indication that we’re in troubled waters. The Steel Panther vernacular remains full of “dicks” and “vaginas,” traded with the gusto you might expect from teenage boys. Indeed you can imagine that the film American Pie remains on constant rotation on the Steel Panther tour bus. Song titles like Is My Dick Enough, Magical Vagina and Never Too Late (To Get Some Pussy Tonight) run to this effect. Never Too Late, the album opener, unflinchingly plays out what it means for Steel Panther to be On The Prowl and the result is grim: “1AM on a Saturday night / Looking for some gash, preferably tight”. Of course, Steel Panther are meant to be playing up to hyperbole but their misogynistic jokes are repeated with a commitment that makes you wonder whether they’re really joking anymore. It gets to a point on Pornstar where the ill-humour progresses to something more sinister and concerning. Lead singer Michael Starr jokes that “if the pope could watch you pray / I’m pretty sure that he would jack” before continuing with “I’ve done that while you sleep at night / And dropped a load right on your back”. Steel Panther can veil these sordid lyrics with the veneer of their ironic “act”. But act or not, On The Prowl constructs tales of misogyny and revels in them – making for an extremely testing, uncomfortable listen.
The band are able, at least, to broadly muster the same sound they always have. They know how to knock out a glam metal record, with songs like All That and More having the requisite heaviness and squealing guitar solos to please fans and that may lend them performance value. They ultimately function as a tribute band to the 80s legends of the genre like Motley Crue and Def Leppard though. Comedy was Steel Panther’s initial edge – the attempt at which now represents their biggest turnoff. Any instrumental chops cannot escape the wince-inducing vocal content with Steel Panther’s loutish brand of ‘humour’ more out of place and painful to digest than ever in 2023. On The Prowl is in contention to be the most obnoxious, offensive and profoundly unfunny album of the year.