With costumes that could have come off the set of Power Rangers and legendary hyperactive performances, to say Japan's Peelander-Z incorporates a shtick would be an understatement, but in 2013, after seven studio albums, the self-described "action comic band" decided to step back from their usual style of colorful Ramones-derived punk and try a new style for Metalander-Z. Perfectly imitating '80s hair metal, Peelander-Purple, Peelander-Pink, Peelander-Yellow, and Peelander-Green give musical nods to all the greats of the genre in this loving tribute. "High Five Boy" pulls out a fist-pumping Mötley Crüe "Looks that Kill" riff and drops in twin-guitar harmonies that would make Iron Maiden blush; the solo of "Dye Your Hair" is so true to Eddie Van Halen, it's hard to believe that it's he isn't the one doing the finger tapping and whammy bar dives, while "Ride on the Shooting Star" is a ridiculous(ly) catchy single that combines a rhythmic gallop with synthesizers that were unmistakably encouraged by Bon Jovi's "Runaway." Lyrics like "Ride on, ride on the shooting star/Bring your rainbow and night rain, yeah!/Ride on, ride on the shooting star/Don't bring poison and nightmare, boo" just add to the infantile charm. Metalander-Z may be a departure, but all the elements of fun are there, and the songs are tackled lovingly and true to the style. Even when vocalist Peelander-Yellow says his ABCs, which he does in "Alphabet," he sounds completely metal. Of course, no '80s hair metal tribute would be complete without a power ballad, and "My Shake" ends the album nicely on a sentimental piano number, tricked out with gleeful audience cheers and an epic guitar solo; just the thing to raise cigarette lighters and lift spirits.
by Jason Lymangrover