Album Review – Steel Panther / Lower the Bar (2017)

The most depraved band in the world raises the bar once again with an ode to all the debauchery and joy of the golden age of Hard Rock, Glam and Heavy Metal.

After the considerable letdown that was All You Can Eat, released  by American Heavy Metal/Hard Rock band Steel Panther in 2014, I got a little worried about the future of one of the funniest metal acts in the history of music. Their jokes were not as good as before, their lyrics were way too repetitive, and there were no memorable anthems like in their previous albums. However, it seems that Michael Starr (vocals), Satchel (guitars), Lexxi Foxxx (bass) and Stix Zadinia (drums) have got their mojo back in Lower the Bar, their fourth major-label studio album and an ode to all the debauchery and joy of the golden age of Hair and Glam Metal.

Let’s be honest, after the first official video of the album was released exclusively on Pornhub, we knew Lower the Bar would bring back the good old Steel Panther we learned to love through the years. Musically speaking, the album kicks ass with its crisp production, enhancing even more the already potent impact of each instrument like a gigantic dildo would do to a young woman. Moreover, there’s a lot to enjoy in this album, from pure Hard Rock to a mellow ballad, from a Rock N’ Roll anthem to their personal tribute to a classic band from the 80’s, and so on. Put differently, it’s two in the pink, one in the stink, and Steel Panther blowing your speakers with the electricity flowing from Lower the Bar.

And Steel Panther blast great old school Glam Metal to kick off the party in Goin’ in the Backdoor, with Satchel delivering his always amazing riffs and solos while Michael Starr proves he’s by far one of the best singers in Hard Rock today, resulting in a solid musicality that lives up to the best songs of their career. The following song, Anything Goes, has all it takes to become a classic during their live concerts: its rhythm is perfect for headbanging, a beer and some tits at a rock n’ roll party, while its lyrics are absolutely mental (“Break out the tanks / Hand grenades / Minus Charlie Sheen / Cuz I don’t want AIDS”). Satchel, Lexxi and Stix definitely know how to generate pure Hard Rock, turning this into a fun rockin’ anthem for admirers of depraved music. In Poontang Boomerang, the song that had its official video debuted on Pornhub (which was in my opinion a fantastic idea), the music is pretty much a witty homage to Hard Rock icons Warrant, as it sounds a lot like their all-time hit “Cherry Pie”, but of course this one is nastier, sexier and more demented; whereas in That’s When You Came In we’re treated to an acoustic intro beautifully delivered by Michael and Satchel, slowly becoming one of those “romantic” and “touching” power ballads by Steel Panther, not to mention Satchel’s amazing solo before the song’s last piece.

My favorite song of the album, the fantastic Wrong Side of the Tracks (Out In Beverly Hills), is a blazin’ high-octane anthem highly recommended for your road trip playlist, with Michael kicking ass on vocals while Lexxi and Stix keep exhaling pure Rock N’ Roll with their bass lines and beats, which obviously means they have to play this awesome tune during their live concerts. Now the Fun Starts, a dark-ish low-tuned composition that kind of puts the listener in a trance, might be used to open their concerts, in special because there’s a lot going on in the lyrics that can be considered a warm-up for the show.  Getting back to their high voltage mode we have Pussy Ain’t Free, a modern and fresh Hard Rock tune with a Glam Metal twist and another top moment in Lower the Bar, with Satchel and Lexxi being on fire with their strings. And if you think the name of the song is already sexist, how about those lyrics (“Don’t need a certified public accountant / To run the numbers on my dick and balls / Don’t need to look at every Amex statement / Already know I’m getting charged for the booty calls”)? Anyway, Wasted Too Much Time might not be a bad song, musically speaking it’s quite fine and even reminds me of some Hard Rock classic ballads from the 80’s and 90’s, but it lacks that mighty punch from the rest of the album.

Mixing up the gripping Hard Rock by Scorpions and Motley Crüe with 80’s Pop Rock (in special its synths), I Got What You Want presents a very pleasant sonority with Michael having an amazing performance, supported  by the song’s old school backing vocals; whereas Walk of Shame ventures through the fields of American Country Rock with hints of Blues and obviously their kick-ass Glam Metal core. Stix dictates the rhythm with his groovy beats, while Michael sends a thoughtful message to all women (“No wonder then, every weekend is the same / Your vagina’s still eighteen / Baby, stand up tall and walk that walk of shame / That walk of shame / Go on, girl!”). And lastly, She’s Tight is their top-notch cover version of a summer-like hit, being heavier and more metallic than the original version and even featuring Robin Zander, lead singer and rhythm guitarist for the Rock N’ Roll band Cheap Trick, the band that recorded the original song back in the 80’s. I’m sure Robin is really happy with what Michael and the guys did not only with the music, but with the official video for it (by the way, Michael’s “Cheap Slut” shirt was a great tribute to Robin and his band).

In a nutshell, if you never get tired of Steel Panther’s sexist and dirty jokes, I’m sure you’ll love Lower the Bar, and album that does exactly the opposite of what its name says, raising the band’s bar once again in heavy music. In addition, there’s always new entertaining material on their YouTube channel, such as the one-of-a-kind, once-in-a-lifetime Lower the Bar Awards, which at least for me is already more important and honest than the Grammy Awards, don’t you agree? Anyway, you can buy some interesting Lower the Bar bundles at their official webstore, including one with a beer stein and one with a shirt. And no, there are no bundles with dildos, inflatable whores or anything like that. At least not yet.

Best moments of the album: Anything Goes, Wrong Side of the Tracks (Out In Beverly Hills) and Pussy Ain’t Free.

Worst moments of the album: Wasted Too Much Time.

Released in 2017 Kobalt Label Services

Track listing
1. Goin’ in the Backdoor 3:10
2. Anything Goes 3:01
3. Poontang Boomerang 3:22
4. That’s When You Came In 3:46
5. Wrong Side of the Tracks (Out In Beverly Hills) 3:07
6. Now the Fun Starts 3:43
7. Pussy Ain’t Free 3:56
8. Wasted Too Much Time 3:50
9. I Got What You Want 4:13
10. Walk of Shame 4:11
11. She’s Tight (Cheap Trick cover feat. Robin Zander) 2:54

Band members
Michael Starr – lead vocals
Satchel – lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars, backing vocals
Lexxi Foxxx – bass guitar, backing vocals
Stix Zadinia – drums, percussion, backing vocals

Guest musicians
Robin Zander – additional vocals on “She’s Tight”
Rudy Sarzo – bass on “Wrong Side of the Tracks (Out In Beverly Hills)”
Michael Catton – background vocals on “I Got What You Want”
Chris Catton – background vocals on “I Got What You Want”

Concert Review – Judas Priest (Casino Rama, Rama, ON, 10/07/2014)

The Metal Gods descended from the sky to assault all of us with their magnificent Heavy Metal in a land far, far away.

INTRODUCTION: The Lost Civilization of Casino Rama

Judas-Priest-Redeemer-of-Souls-Tour-2014If you want to stay away from any type of civilization in this world, I suggest you go to a place called Casino Rama, located around two and a half ENDLESS hours from Toronto. In theory it should be a lot faster than that, but if you take into account the 5pm traffic to leave the city on a Tuesday (right in the middle of the week, by the way) and an annoying dose of heavy rain, the hassle of getting there is horribly extended and becomes a real torture. Who the hell decided Casino Rama on a tuesday night were the best venue and date for Judas Priest to perform in Ontario? I swear to God, Odin, Buddha and any other deity that I’ll NEVER return to that place again if not for Iron Maiden or Judas Priest. No other band can make me go there again, not even Slayer or Megadeth.

Not only that, I truly hate Heavy Metal concerts with pre-assigned seats. Why not leaving the floor section without those fuckin’ chairs? Just create a general floor area, and whoever wants to sit down while Judas Priest are playing Hell Bent For Leather (if that’s humanly possible), simply take one of the seats at the back. As simple as that, but it seems the very “knowledgeable” organizers were expecting Judas Priest to be as smooth as Kenny G or any other shit like that. Anyway, let’s try to always look on the bright side of life: at least the venue was nice and clean, parking was free, and the sound quality was beyond perfect. And of course, if you’re addicted to gambling, that’s also a good place to be.

OPENING ACT: Steel Panther

IMG_2955When the opening act are Hard Rock/Glam Metal jesters STEEL PANTHER, you know it’s going to be a memorable night. Although they’re truly funny even with 99.9% of their sexist jokes being really stupid, I believe their superb skills as musicians are what make them so awesome to watch, especially vocalist Michael Starr. In my opinion, he’s a much better singer than all hard rockers from the 80’s. Well, maybe only singer Ralph Saenz (ex-L.A. Guns) can be compared to him. Got it?

Their setlist might have been a little shorter than usual, but still full of classics such as Asian Hooker, Gold-Digging Whore, and Death To All But Metal, plus some songs from their new album All You Can Eat like the good Gloryhole, all perfectly complemented by their jokes about the age of the attendees (especially those screaming ladies in their 40’s and 50’s), their debate about Michael Starr being a fat version of Bret Michaels or a skinny version of Vince Neil, among many other “pearls of wisdom”. There couldn’t have been a better warm-up than that for the Metal Gods.

Before I talk about the Priest, I just wanted to say that it might be really cool and a huge honour for Russ Parrish to be on the road with the Metal God Rob Halford once again, even if they’re in different bands now. If you don’t get it, click HERE and you’ll understand why I mentioned that.

Band members
Michael Starr – lead vocals
Satchel – lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars
Lexxi Foxxx – bass guitar
Stix Zadinia – drums, percussion, piano

JUDAS PRIEST

IMG_2973It was around 9:30pm when Rob Halford, Glenn Tipton & Co. hit the Casino Rama stage for another flawless performance. Right after Black Sabbath’s War Pigs and the intro for Priest’s own new song Battle Cry, thunders roared, the curtain was dropped and there they were with the excellent new song Dragonaut assaulting our bodies and souls with the purest Heavy Metal in the whole universe. What can I say about those guys that hasn’t been said yet? Rob Halford is not human: he is and will always be the METAL GOD, with his unique voice being absolutely perfect for both heavy stuff and smoother ballads; Scott and Glenn were as precise and heavy as usual; Richie injected some new oxygen to the band and proves with each concert why he was an amazing choice to replace K. K. Downing; and for the first time in my life, due to the sound quality of the venue, I could listen to Ian Hill’s bass lines.

Perhaps the most curious detail of their performance at Casino Rama (and during this whole tour so far) is the total absence of any songs from the masterpiece Painkiller, including its title-track, as well as other classics like “Electric Eye” and “Rapid Fire”, from the setlist. Instead, they opted for other types of classics, a little bit more underground but just as great as any of those songs, such as Devil’s Child, Jawbreaker, Love Bites, and Defenders of the Faith (which could have been complemented with “Heavy Duty” right before it like in the studio album, but that was awesome anyway), kind of celebrating 30 years of their classic album Defenders of the Faith.

And as we’re talking about the mighty Judas Priest, there’s a lot more to enjoy than “just” their unparalleled Heavy Metal: each and every song had a different background, with highlights to the fun and exciting images of the cult movie Nosferatu (1922) during Love Bites; Halford’s famous “robot walk” during Metal Gods; their badass Harley-Davidson in Hell Bent For Leather; and Halford letting the crowd sing Breaking the Law on their own, just like he did with his solo band during his Rock In Rio III concert in 1999.

IMG_2967One thing I truly loved during this concert was the fact that all new songs from Redeemer Of Souls sounded awesome live and were perfectly blended with their old classics, especially the magnificent Halls Of Valhalla. What an outstanding performance by the whole band during this powerful song, especially, of course, Mr. Rob Halford. Just as I mentioned in my review of the new album in regards to this song, “… which I’m sure will become a fan-favourite especially due to its lyrics and chorus and will also sound superb when played live”, and I was totally right!

The encore, with anthems like You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’ and Living After Midnight, was a sonic orgasm to all Heavy Metal lovers that attended the show, but in my opinion the most memorable moment of their entire performance happened a little before that, when they played the all-time classic Beyond The Realms Of Death. Honestly, Rob Halford almost made me cry so beautiful and emotive his performance was. It was one of those moments you know why you love heavy music so much, and fully understand why he is entitled the Metal God.

I must admit the long and boring journey back from Casino Rama to Toronto on the same night (I got home at around 2am) was a lot easier thanks to the adrenaline running through my veins after such a stunning concert by the Priest. Although the band members are visibly aging (Rob, Glenn and Ian are all in their mid-60’s already), does that mean it’s the “beginning of the end” for the band? I don’t think so. As far as I could see, they’re better than ever, very excited to craft new powerful music, and playing their old classics with so much passion they look like they’re just starting their careers. And, of course, I cannot wait to see the Metal Gods kicking some serious ass live again with their unique jaw-dropping Heavy Metal. JUDAS FUCKIN’ PRIEST!

Band members
Rob Halford – vocals
Glenn Tipton – guitar
Richie Faulkner – guitar
Ian Hill – bass guitar
Scott Travis – drums

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Album Review – Steel Panther / All You Can Eat (2014)

The Panther is back with another good album, although not as captivating as their previous ones.

Rating5

Steel-Panther-All-You-Can-EatAfter three long years waiting for more profanity, boobs, pussy and especially good heavy music, American Heavy Metal/Hard Rock band Steel Panther is finally back with their third full-length album, the good All You Can Eat. And that’s the main issue with this album: it’s only good, not awesome, and very few songs are truly exciting or memorable.

Of course we were not expecting anything so fuckin’ awesome such as the classics Death To All But Metal, The Shocker, Asian Hooker, Tomorrow Night or Gold-Digging Whore, not even that the whole album was as original as Feel The Steel and Balls Out, but the lack of punch and the annoying repetition of most of the choruses make me wonder if the band was feeling “tired” while recording All You Can Eat, and even if they recorded it only as an excuse for more touring and selling more merchandise.

However, the “Fanthers” don’t need to get too worried about it, as the Panther’s main characteristics are still there keeping the album at a good level: their talent as musicians continues to be impeccable, especially Michael Starr’s voice, and their lyrics full of profanity and obscenity give the album that special touch that makes us laugh while listening to it in our cars even during a snow storm or a traffic jam. Moreover, another positive thing in the album is the addition of some elements from Blues and Thrash Metal, giving some tracks an extra dose of originality.

And the album starts in a very promising way with the heavy and funny (and undoubtedly one of the best of all tracks) Pussywhipped, with its “epic” intro and amazing riffs and drums, and Party Like Tomorrow is the End of the World, the album’s first single with inspiring lyrics (“Have sex (yeah!) / With every female of the species he say / The end is near (yeah!) / So don’t you worry about the HIV”) and a video (see below) that cannot be described with words. Well, if I do so, this website will probably be banned due to censorship.

Steel PantherThen we have the amazing Gloryhole, which is exactly what we want to listen to when the band is Steel Panther: it’s by far the most Hard Rock of all tracks, with Michael Starr at his best, and it’s impossible not to sing along with the lyrics (“I don’t wanna know / Who will suck my cock tonight”). The following two tracks are totally forgettable songs called Bukkake Tears, which is not a bad ballad but at the same time nothing really exciting, and Gangbang at the Old Folks Home, with a chorus so repetitive it’s really hard to listen to the entire song. Fortunately after that torture the Panther redeem themselves with the excellent mix of Hard Rock and Blues from Ten Strikes You’re Out, which not only has the best instrumental of all but also awesome lyrics.

That’s when all problems really start in All You Can Eat, as the rest of album is pretty much filler and there’s actually nothing we’ll be eager to see them playing live: The Burden of Being Wonderful might have its funny lyrics, but it’s a horrible song overall; Fucking My Heart in the Ass might have a very funny name, but the lyrics are way too repetitive (how many times does he have to say “fucking my heart in the ass”?) and the riffs are too generic; although B.V.S. has a very good riff by Satchel, the lyrics are way too silly (“Big Vagina Syndrome is becoming a common disease / Ladies that have this affliction are never easy to please”? Was that really necessary?); You’re Beautiful When You Don’t Talk is another ballad inspired by some 80’s mellow classics that doesn’t work at all; If I Was the King is more Stoner and has some good moments, but it’s a bit tiring after a couple of minutes; and last but not least, She’s on the Rag is a very generic song that, after the classics Girl From Oklahoma (from Feel The Steel) and Weenie Ride (from Balls Out), makes the ending of the album really disappointing. Where’s that traditional love/sexist ballad to end the album in a magnificent way?

Finally, if there’s one thing that really stands out in All You Can Eat is the album art: it’s just perfect, a true masterpiece, and a serious contender for “Best Album Art of the Year”. In my opinion, only Mel Brooks’ all-time classic History of the World: Part I and the testosterone-fueled movie The Expendables 2 were capable of recreating the Last Supper more brilliantly than the Panther. But as what really matters is the music itself, that doesn’t make All You Can Eat a must-have album in the end. In other words, it’s good, but not what we really wanted to eat.

Best moments of the album: Pussywhipped, Gloryhole and Ten Strikes You’re Out.

Worst moments of the album: Gangbang at the Old Folks Home, The Burden of Being Wonderful, Fucking My Heart in the Ass and She’s on the Rag.

Released in 2014 Kobalt Label Services

Track listing
1. Pussywhipped 4:37
2. Party Like Tomorrow is the End of the World 4:01
3. Gloryhole 4:32
4. Bukkake Tears 4:47
5. Gangbang at the Old Folks Home 3:47
6. Ten Strikes You’re Out 3:24
7. The Burden of Being Wonderful 3:29
8. Fucking My Heart in the Ass 4:14
9. B.V.S. 3:57
10. You’re Beautiful When You Don’t Talk 3:49
11. If I Was the King 3:42
12. She’s on the Rag 3:50

Band members
Michael Starr – lead vocals
Satchel – lead, rhythm and acoustic guitars
Lexxi Foxxx – bass guitar
Stix Zadinia – drums, percussion, piano