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There are several schools of thought when it comes to Steel Panther.
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One of those is that these spandexed poodle-haired buffoons should give up the bad jokes and finally go back to their day jobs.
Being spandexed poodle-haired buffoons is their day job, however, and while Heavy Metal Rules doesn’t offer anything new, there are still plenty of catchy hooks and off-colour humour left in the Steel Panther tanks. Granted, most of that humour revolves around sexual promiscuity and copious amounts of drugs, but joking about those things has sustained the entertainment industry since before many people reading this were born. Steel Panther are merely carrying on a well-honoured tradition, albeit in the most tasteless way they can.
Steel Panther’s actual musical cred is often overlooked in all the din surrounding their lyrics
Again, there’s nothing new in that, except this time there is the slightest taste of bitterness in tracks like Always Gonna Be a Ho and I’m Not Your Bitch. Ratcheting that factor up to the extreme leads to the waste of three and a half minutes that is Fuck Everybody, but elsewhere it actually works to add a teaspoon of depth to their usual wading-pool shallowness. The Poison-esque power ballad I Ain’t Buying What You’re Selling almost gets serious for a moment until they just can’t help themselves anymore; even so, it is still the closest thing Steel Panther has ever come to addressing a situation not exclusive to the life of an over-the-top rock band.
Steel Panther’s actual musical cred is often overlooked in all the din surrounding their lyrics, but no band could keep up this kind of charade if they weren’t A-grade players. Not only can they write hooks like nobody’s business—the type that force you to sing along to their silly, non-PC choruses even if you don’t want to—they craft great riffs and melodies. Michael Starr knows his way around an octave or two and Satchel is a lead guitarist worthy of having only one name. Heavy Metal Rules features some of his best solos overall and some of the band’s heaviest moments, and they introduce it with a rather infamous grab from the cult film Heavy Metal Parking Lot where a real person proves themselves to be perhaps even dumber than Steel Panther pretend to be.
Heavy Metal Rules is par for the course. Haters will hate it, fans will love it and everyone else will forget about it next week.