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Steel Panther’s All You Can Eat: All That We Love

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You encounter them only once in a while, these handful of awesome dudes who always crack you up. It’s at the occasional house party or among the hordes at a crowded club, so you plant yourself in their midsts for the duration as they zing everybody and crack dirty jokes. To these guys, nothing is sacred, all is hilarious, and nobody is safe from their wit and raunch. You don’t know them well, you never catch their phone number or their last names, but their presence guarantees an awesome time. That’s why you’re so happy when your path crosses theirs; you spot them, exchange hugs and how-are-ya’s, then just sit back, get messed up, get thrown out, and wake up sore from laughing at their antics.

That’s the Steel Panther experience. Now, at some point, they began to throw their own parties, so our surprise factor is replaced with anticipation, drug-stockpiling, and calendar-watching. And by our third invite — that is, to their third album All You Can Eat, out tomorrow — we know what to expect from them: drugs, bad sex, innumerable dick and fart jokes. Genius stupidity. That’s how to party.

Now let’s focus on the word “genius”: From the longview, it’s genius that Steel Panther has contrived a way to make a living on hair metal in 2014. For there is no shortage of modern hair metal bands — see: Sweden — but no matter how good (Crashdiet) or bad (most others), its creators are somehow unsavory in their vibe: Both the broken-hearted earnestness of ’80s Dokken and the tales of irresistible sluts à la “Still Of The Night” sound dumb in our age of over-confidence, of a million mini-celebrities, of 24-hour flaunting. No one falls victim to anything cuz that would look bad on social media. So, that vibe is anachronistic and those bands struggle to connect.

But Steel Panther cracked that riddle. They clicked the absurd-o-meter just one notch past ’80s hair metal — sometimes ten notches — to blast right past “sincere” and “spellbound” into “phallomaniacal” and “too high to care.” Pair that vibe to their music prowess — recognition of which is mostly forfeited in the bargain — and you’ve got a quartet of awesome hair-bangers that make you groan only in the good way.

In close-up, more than just Steel Panther’s concept is genius: Again I state that their songwriting is. (Satchel, dude, teach me.) Take “Bukkake Tears,” a moody third single in the tradition of MSG’s “Anytime” and “Hysteria” by Def Leppard; it’s mind-blowing how the jam so captures 1985, how you find yourself singing along about a frown coated in jizz, and, as above, how heartbreak can be expressed in post-post-ridiculous America. AYCE‘s other slick jams rule similarly — the other mournful ballad “You’re Beautiful When You Don’t Talk,” plus mid-rockers “The Burden Of Being Wonderful” and “Party Like It’s The End Of The World” — but the album’s swift, heavy moments will hog your affection. “Ten Strikes You’re Out” and “Fucking My Heart In The Ass” shoot in bursts then cease fire before you can clock their weaknesses. “If I Was King” and “Gangbang At The Old Folks’ Home” get the biggest howls, while “Pussywhipped” and “She’s On The Rag” are preposterously snappy — and relatable.

Sure, like our abovementioned party pals, the Steel Panther guys are capable of stretching a joke past its breaking point: “B.V.S.” falls flat by verse two, but remains a very valuable bit of public service. (That sinking feeling when you face off against the titular malady, omg such a bummer.) Without other exception, AYCE is another set of whoppers from America’s most astutely idiotic rock band. One day those fun dudes might start to sound rough, run out of A-material, and come up short of charm. I will be gutted then. For now I’ll have all I can eat.

Steel Panther’s All You Can Eat is out tomorrow via Open E. Stream it here and pre-order here.

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