Immature. Crude. Vulgar. Dirty. Crass. Foul. Obscene. Demeaning to Women. Loud. Over-the-top. Hysterically funny. All are words that can be used to describe Steel Panther’s major label debut “Feel the Steel” but personally I think the album is best described as how metal is meant to be.
The 1980s were a decade of excess. Everything had to go to 11 or it just wasn’t good enough. The hair had to be bigger, the make up more extreme, the behavior worse and most importantly the music had to be louder, cruder and more insane than the last best thing to hit the airwaves. Bands like Motley Crue, Europe, Bon Jovi, Poison, Def Leppard, Whitesnake, and many others all competed to be the king of the castle. Then the 1990s hit and it all came crumbling down in the wake of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Alice in Chain and the grunge movement. The excesses were looked upon as immature and silly but part of me missed it all.
Enter Steel Panther and their major label debut, “Feel the Steel”. As a fan of 80s hair metal, “Feel the Steel” is at once a glorious homage to the genre and a stinging satire of the era. “Feel the Steel” is all about sex, drugs and rock and roll and lets the listener know it in explicit detail. From the outset of the album listeners will probably know if they will like the material or not as it kicks off with the anthem “Death to All But Metal”. The song takes a swipe at popular music such as the Goo Goo Dolls, Eminem, Blink 182, Britney and Kanye West (amongst others) with the quality writing of the best fanboy attacks ever posted on a message board but all the while it knows that it is a joke proclaiming, “Why do all my lyrics sound like Dr. Seuss?”
If you were not offended by the suggestion in “Death to All But Metal” that you should kill Madonna and then proceed to have anal sex with her corpse then “Feel the Steel” might be for you (you sick bastard). The songs deal with clichéd 80s song themes, like going to Japan (“Asian Hooker”), life on the road when the one you love is at home (“Community Property), or groupies (“Girl from Oklahoma”) but it does so in the most obscene way possible. The lyrics are never particularly deep, the guitar solos are almost always over-the-top and cheesy but it is almost always funny (in a vulgar way) and it captures the style and feel of 80s hair metal perfectly.
“Feel the Steel” at times can try too hard to be funny and the result, as in “Stripper Girl”, can come across as flat but for the most part the insanity, vulgarity, homage and satire all pull together to create something that is special. It certainly won’t be for everyone as songs about combined vaginal and anal play (The Shocker) and having sex with fat and/or ugly people (“Fat Girl” and “Turn Out the Lights”) is for a special brand of degenerate but I have a feeling that if you at one point banged your head to the sounds of Aquanet and Spandex then Steel Panther’s “Feel the Steel” will be for you and you will love every minute of it.
5 out of 5
Top Songs: Death to All But Metal, Community Property, Fat Girl, Turn Out the Lights, The Shocker