Heavy Metal Rules is the fifth album from comedic cock rockers Steel Panther. True to the band’s form, Heavy Metal Rules is a musical and lyrical exploration of the gnarliest of glam rock clichés. The band is probably the best at what they do, but whether or not they strike your funny bone is going to be subjective. Musically, the band’s still hitting the mark, but, for me, the gags just fell short.
Heavy Metal Rules starts out with a clip from Heavy Metal Parking Lot, or, as I first heard it, the into in American Hi-Fi’s “Flavor of the Weak” music video. The first real tune on the album comes in the form of “All I Wanna Do Is (Fuck Myself Tonight).” The song outlines the positive body image Michael Starr has of himself as well as the standards he sets for the women lucky enough to share the night with them, pun hella intended, star vocalist. This tune or the hard-rocking ballad “Always Gonna Be a Ho” are a great starting point for new listeners as they lay out what Steel Panther’s all about: cheesy, misogynist 80s metal.
It should be no surprise that Steel Panther aren’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea. But, for the sake of this review, I’m going to look mainly at the execution of the band’s goofs. With that in mind, I’ve had a specific gripe with Steel Panther since I first heard them; they don’t know when enough is enough. When I first heard “Gloryhole” on 2013’s All You Can Eat, I thought that the song was hilarious, but that it went on about a minute too long. And, sure enough, things are similar this time around. There’s hardly a chorus on this album that’s not repeated at least three times. There are some decent ideas in songs like the song “Fuck Everybody” or the sombre “Gods of Pussy,” but the band has a bad habit of taking away from their own cleverness by just beating you over the head with the song’s main schtick.
Steel Panther is not the band for everybody. They’re cheesy, they’re offensive, and they’re playing the music we’ve all heard before. Having said that, there’s a lot of charm to the band. If you’ve dug Steel Panther’s previous albums or have a special place in your heart for the vintage fromage, Heavy Metal Rules will be worth the listen. For me, the album ultimately fell victim to the same issues as the band’s earlier releases.
Written by Justin Bruce
*edited by Danielle Kenedy