Album Review: Steel Panther

balls out (universal republic records)

Satirically pretending to be a hair metal band that missed its big break in the '80s, singer Ralph Saenz ("Michael Starr"), drummer Darren Leader ("Stix Zadinia"), bassist Travis Haley ("Lexxi Foxxx"), and guitarist Russ Parrish ("Satchel") hit the club circuit on the Sunset Strip around the turn of the millennium under the name Metal Shop (later changed to Metal Skool, and then Steel Panther).

Their blend of over-the-top hair metal, catchy melodies, big choruses and tongue in cheek lyrics are bound to provoke opinion, and compared to their previous album, Feel The Steel, they've really got their Balls Out this time. With the band's image and music unashamedly parodying 80's influences and legends like Mötley Crüe and Van Halen, Steel Panther are essentially the Spinal Tap of the 21st Century, and If you get the humour and the cliches, this album could be one of the best records you'll hear all year.

Balls Out has everything you want, as well as everything you expect from a glam-metal comic rock band. To fully appreciate this album, you really have to sit down and properly listen to the lyrics; an explosion of word play, metaphors and double entendres that make for a totally entertaining record. With lines like "Get on your knees and help me please, cause it won't suck itself. Time to use your mouth...You can't spit it out, I need you to be with us, cause I can feel the swelling getting worse", make it obvious that Steel panther don't do subtle. The album constantly references themes like drugs, sex and partying, with such outragous lyrics, you can't help but laugh. Tracks like If You Really Really Love Me remind me of fellow comic-rockers, Tenacious D, and their song F**k Her Gently, with its stripped-back acoustic ballad style

However, Steel Panther are much more than just cheap jokes and the shock element, they validate their tongue-in-cheek style through their genuine knowledge of rock and metal musicality, backed up with technically accomplished guitar playing and vocals comparable with the greats like Steven Tyler, Jon Bon Jovi, Bret Michaels and Vince Neil. The real musos out there will thoroughly enjoy picking out and identifying lyrical and musical nods to some of the biggest rock songs of the last 30 years (I'll let you figure them out..). Steel Panther aren't stupid, they play to their crowd with full knowledge of the stereotypes they're appropriating.

This really is an album for the rockers out there; ballads, shredding guitar solos, high-pitched screams, pounding drums, fast-paced rhythms, heavy riffs and anthemic sing-along choruses. The lyrics are just an added bonus of fun and frivolity. The record finally reaches climax (pun intended) with the last track on the record, Weenie Ride, a heart-felt, piano-driven ballad that encapsulates all Steel Panther are. "Hold on tight cause I'm cumming inside, it's better than a ferris wheel or a water slide; Its the weenie ride". What a lovely thought to end on!

I honestly haven't enjoyed listening to an album as much as this one for a long time! I totally recommend it. Balls Out is witty, clever and frankly, pure genius. The album is available to purchase now, and If you like what you hear, Steel Panther will be playing a one-off UK date on the 8th of November at London's Electric Ballroom. Here's their current single from the album, 17 Girls In A Row: