Review: Steel Panther – On The Prowl

Review: Steel Panther – On The Prowl

Steel Panther Inc (February 24th, 2023

Reviewer: Jason Hopper

When I was fourteen in 1989, I discovered a stand-up comedian named Andrew “Dice” Clay. At the time, there was no one on the planet funnier to me.  Just a few months later, I began a journey into hard rock and metal that continues to this day. Both of these events would be defining moments of that year that would shape how I viewed comedy and music. The combination of raunchy humor and rock smacks me right in the nostalgia feels, so while many may not get the hype surrounding a band like Steel Panther, I am ALL IN!!

Well, at least I was. I was fortunate enough to check them out live at the 2009 M3 Festival a few months prior to the release of their debut album. Their mix of stand-up comedy and well-executed riffs and melodies made me an instant fan. I bought their album the day it came out and it ranked in my Top 3 for that year. Their follow-up ‘Balls Out’ was even better. Then came the diminishing returns. Third album ‘All You Can Eat’ was very good but not as good as their first two. 2017’s ‘Lower The Bar’ was incredibly disappointing. Only a few songs resonated with me, with my favorite being their cover of Cheap Trick’sShe’s Tight’. I decided to stream 2019’s ‘Heavy Metal Rules’ before buying it and didn’t like one damn song! Steel Panther had failed me and six months later COVID happened. Coincidence? You be the judge. It pains me to think what would have happened if The Panther had released material that took the World by storm.  They could have averted a disaster but alas, we were left with the ravages of the pandemic and the music of Harry Styles.

It seemed like their lyrics had grown crude without the clever to back it up. Guitarist Satchel had run out of all the great licks he used to bring to the band. Being that things could not get any worse, I decided to review their new album ‘On The Prowl’ with the hope of any return to their former glory.

In getting ready, song titles like ‘One Pump Chump’ and ‘Magical Vagina’ made me chuckle.  Ain’t no shame in my game, I’m easy to please. I was already familiar with opening track (and first single) ‘Never Too Late (To Get Some Pussy Tonight)’ and I found that song to be a strong return to form and was hoping for more along those lines. My wishes would be answered by the very next track.

Friends with Benefits’ is the highlight of the album and easily matches up with their best material. Satchel’s sound is sonic perfection, the perfect type of guitar tone for me and a kick to the teeth riff that’s so great I can forgive the occasional lines where words don’t rhyme. This needs to be added to their set list if it isn’t already.

From there you get songs that are timely but run the risk of getting dated in the near future.  References to Instagram, Peloton, and Russian collusion are just some of the subjects covered that will be dated in just a few short years. Lyric-wise, you can’t expect to get anything ground-breaking from these guys. The enjoyment is in the absurd wordplay, and this album has plenty to offer. The award for best lyric on this album goes to ‘All That and More’: “If (my dick) had a degree, it would be Dr. Phil”. Poetry. With that said, I always found their best songs contain some type of story, such as previous releases ‘Just Like Tiger Woods’ or ‘Gangbang at the Old Folks Home’. There’s some of that here, but one too many songs solely about body parts. Four songs about dicks and vaginas are two songs too many.

The songs that work for me are the songs about “relationships”. Along with ‘Friends with Benefits’, ‘Put My Money Where Your Mouth Is’, ‘Teleporter’, and ‘Is My Dick Enough’ are all killer tracks. I appreciated the slow down groove of the latter track, which features Dweezil Zappa on guitar. It offers a nice change of pace from the four on the floor approach to the other rockers.

One song that took me out of the joke realm was ‘Pornstar’, one of the bleakest Steel Panther songs ever recorded. A black comedy narrative about the accolades of a beautiful woman and how grateful the man is to have her captured in his basement against her will. You got to have a real sick sense of humor to enjoy it and it’s just a little too dark for my tastes.

I have mixed feelings about the more ballad-type songs showcased here. There’s three in total, with ‘On Your Instagram’ being the best one. A power ballad about catfishing, Michael Starr’s lyrics make the song work, despite a generic melody line. Second single ‘1987’ has the opposite problem. It’s a great acoustic-based ballad let down by lazy lyrics about the music scene of ’87.  Referencing the past has been done to death in better songs, most notably the brilliant Bowling For Soup track ‘1985’. I will give them credit for writing and including one song on the album that isn’t about sex. The album closes out with the two weakest tracks. The solely acoustic ‘Ain’t Dead Yet’, which Michael Starr sleepwalks through, followed by final rocker ‘Sleeping On the Rollaway’. At barely two and a half minutes, it sounds slapdash and thrown together at the last minute.

While it doesn’t match the heights of their first two albums, this album is heads and shoulders above their last two releases, and I would put this just behind ‘All You Can Eat’ in terms of their album ranking. It makes me excited to see them live again. I’m taking my fifteen-year-old son to a show in a few weeks. Since he’s not familiar with their music, I asked him to listen to this album and give me his opinion as I wanted a teenage perspective. He listened one through and stated the following: “Dad, in a world of gender-nonconformity and Starbucks Pink Drinks, I finally understand what it means to be a man.”  Thanks Steel Panther.

Track Listing:

  1. Never Too Late (To Get Some Pussy Tonight)
  2. Friends With Benefits
  3. On Your Instagram
  4. Put My Money Where Your Mouth Is
  5. 1987
  6. Teleporter
  7. Is My Dick Enough (feat. Dweezil Zappa)
  8. Magical Vagina
  9. All That and More
  10. One Pump Chump
  11. Pornstar
  12. Ain’t Dead Yet
  13. Sleeping on the Rollaway