ALBUM REVIEW: Steel Panther – Heavy Metal Rules

Words by Emily Hollitt

Heavy metal rules. All that punk shit sucks. It doesn’t belong in this world, it belongs on f*cking Mars, man. What the hell is punk shit? Madonna can go to hell as far as I’m concerned, she’s a dick”. These wise words open Steel Panther’s latest album titled, you guessed it, ‘Heavy Metal Rules’. Hot off the controversy of the self-proclaimed feminist supporters multiple-orgasm inducing ‘Pussy Melter’ pedal, a work the boys have humbly confirmed was a collaboration with NASA, have somehow found time in their busy schedule to produce the feel-good album of the year.

Aligning with their clear feminist ideals, the album opens with self-love anthem All I Wanna Do Is Fuck Myself Tonight. “If you want my hot love injection, you have to look as good as my reflection” proclaims vocalist Ralph Saenz. His raw and raspy vocals project the exact passion any body positivity track should have, perfectly capturing his emotion in the recording as he proudly confesses “I can’t help rejecting the women that I date, When I look into my eyes I have to masturbate”. The power of the vocals are supported by heavily overdriven guitars and a steady yet complex drum beat driving the track forward and supporting the overall empowering message. The sheer power of the guitars shine through in the introduction to following track Let’s Get High Tonight, a compelling narrative track about inviting friends over while their parents are out of town. Representing their respect for others around them, they claim “I got shrooms and ecstasy. Don’t be shy, they’re gluten free”, respectfully acknowledging the dietary requirements of the friends they are hosting. “Crank the new Steel Panther song” they add smoothly, continuing the theme of self-love. 

I fell in love with someone sweet and pure, but she became the world’s biggest whore” opens the first ballad of the album as the band show their sensitive side with Always Gonna Be A HoSaenz’s emotions are epitomised in the chorus as he sings “Doesn’t matter what you do or where you go, you’re always gonna be ho”, using tasteful vibrato as the powerful electric guitars overtake the sensitive acoustic to express the power of the heartbreak. “I saw your name tattooed on my grandpa’s arm. Is there no man you haven’t laid? Has your vagina never seen the shade?” he pleads to his lover, expressing her personally her promiscuity has impacted him. The song takes a turn for redemption with the lines “This could be our loves greatest test, I don’t care if you’re a ho as long as you say that I’m the best”, expressing that their love could survive all of life’s greatest challenges, even when his grandpa is involved.

Distorted and disillusioning synthesizers open I’m Not Your Bitch, before changing course entirely and transforming into metal. “I’m not your bitch, why you gotta to treat me like one?”  asserts Saenz, putting his foot down in a relationship with a clearly unequal power dynamic. This song continues the albums overall theme of empowerment, instilling the idea that it is okay to be assertive in order to get the treatment that you deserve in all partnerships. The song reaches it’s powerful climax as Saenz repeats, like a chant or a war cry, “I’m not your bitch!”.

Fuck Everybody outlines the daily traumas and frustrations of everyday life, including nearly getting hit by the car of someone who is on their phone sending snapchats, being seated next to somebody odorous on an airplane and finding dog faecal matter on their driveway when they don’t own a dog. The final scenario brings the song to an emotional high, softening as Saenz quietly bellows “Went to my local Starbucks, ordered my usual fare. Double vanilla latte with whipped cream and cinnamon sprinkles. Dude three people behind me in line got his Frappuccino firs…t” before the track quickly fades in to a scream before leading back into the chorus, representing the internal frustrations of these small yet aggravating occurrences. Successfully, this track provides an outlet for small occurrences with big internally emotional consequences, adding a safety blanket to life’s harrowing first world problems.

The album takes a narrative ballad twist with Heavy Metal Rules. Opening with gentle piano and almost conversational vocal delivery, the first verse is reminiscent of the works of Elton John. The track entails the story of how Saenz never made it as a regular singer hence represented in the singer-songwriter genre allusion. The chorus grows,  transforming the song into heavy rock with the introduction of the layered guitars, successfully depicting how he found his place in Heavy Metal, a truly inspirational feat from rags to riches. The idea of creative and thoughtful production is experimented further with Sneaky Little Bitch begins with overdriven guitars panned to the left, before joined by others panned hard right, before everything is unified in the centre, creating a powerful and audibly immersive attention-grabbing introduction, symbolising how the two partners are separate yet when their actions are put together, they are the same. “You’re a sneaky little bitch, should’ve known it from the start. You’re a sneaky little bitch, your intention was fucking my heart… right in the arse”. This track seems to clearly reflect the same relationship as spoken in Always Gonna Be A Ho, confessing how their relationship is full of infidelity and breaches of trust, however Saenz confesses he is prone to the same faults as well, providing interesting commentary to the idiosyncrasies of human nature and monogamy.

Sometimes it’s hard when all the girls want to fuck you. So you fuck them once, but they all keep coming back” opens the heart-wrenching track Gods of Pussy, approaching the rarely talked about inner turmoil of an absolute stud. Including a tantalising guitar solo and thoughtfully stacked harmonies playing homage to the Glam Rock genre they dominate. Tasteful and clean guitars open I Ain’t Buying What You Sell, closing the album on a whole new vibe. Simple rhyme schemes and minimal instrumentation play perfect tribute to classic soft rock. With the line “If I come across as if I am complaining, it’s cos you’re pissing down my back and you telling me it’s raining?” the band use the powerful poetic device of metaphor to represent the core of the song- that commercialism and distraction based of lies and manipulation aren’t the keys to happiness. It is a societal analysis of the current state of the consumer culture in the world, stating they only need the simple things to keep them happy, ending the album on a thought provoking note.

‘Heavy Metal Rules’ is not your typical rock album. It packs a punch and retains power, just as much as it makes you step back, think and analyse your life and find the strength to empower yourself. It sings about the turmoils of unfaithful relationships, the inner-workings of a consumer-driven society, the importance of self-love as well as stripping back the stigmatism surrounding human sexuality. Steel Panther have successfully created an album that makes you really deeply think, solidifying itself as one of rock’s greatest.

Get the album HERE.

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