REVIEW: Steel Panther – ‘On the Prowl’

By Greg Maki

Two decades is a long time to run on what essentially is a single joke, yet here stands Steel Panther 23 years after its founding. Something to consider: This ‘80s hair metal-inspired act now has existed more than twice as long as the decade it parodies/celebrates. That’s staying power that I doubt anyone, band members included, would have predicted back in the early—or even late—2000s.

The key, of course, is that Steel Panther always has been more than a gimmick band, which continues to show on its sixth studio album, “On the Prowl.” Vocalist Michael Starr, guitarist Satchel, drummer Stix Zadinia and new bassist Spyder play their brand of crass, decidedly non-PC glam metal better than many of those who originated it—certainly better than the vast majority of those classic acts can today. (Satchel, in particular, continues to stand out, deserving of mention with the best modern guitar heroes.) Go back and take a close listen to many of those ‘80s bands, and you’ll find that what Steel Panther does barely even qualifies as parody; it’s more of an homage with a greater degree of self-awareness. There’s an obvious love for that era of hair spray and spandex without which I doubt Steel Panther would have been able to endure for as long as it has.

Predictably, “On the Prowl” changes virtually nothing from the five records that precede it. Sure, some of the references are more current—Tinder, Instagram and OnlyFans come up in the lyrics—but the joke is the same as it ever was. If it hasn’t worn thin for you by this point, it likely never will and the new album, with the songwriting and musicianship as strong as ever, is full of songs that will slide nicely into rotation with the best of the band’s back catalog. Highlights include opener “Never Too Late (to Get Some Pussy Tonight),” which starts with Van Halen-style keyboards then transitions into a stomper with Mötley Crüe-like swagger; “Friends with Benefits,” featuring one of the record’s heavier riffs and searing lead work by Satchel; the power ballad “1987,” finding the band at its most sincere as it pays tribute to one of the banner years of metal’s heyday; the bluesy “Is My Dick Enough,” with an assist from guitarist Dweezil Zappa; and the largely acoustic ballad “Ain’t Dead Yet.”

Part of me wants to see Steel Panther, for just one album, follow the path that many ‘80s metal bands took in the ‘90s and adopt a darker, heavier sound. With so much obvious talent in the group, there’s no question that they could pull it off, and I’m very curious about how that would sound—probably quite a bit like another album standout, “All That and More,” which grooves along at a slower tempo bolstered by a more modern sound. A full record of such likely would be bad for business, though, just as it was for the many acts that quickly crashed and burned as grunge took over the mainstream 30-plus years ago. (To be fair, the entire ‘80s era was dying quickly, so you can hardly blame bands that made an attempt to stay relevant with their last gasps.) Steel Panther understands its fans are looking for nothing but a good time, and “On the Prowl,” one of the its best albums to date, continues to deliver the goods.

Rating: 8.5/10

Steel Panther Inc. – February 24, 2023

Buy “On the Prowl” 

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