You wanted the best, you got the best! The hottest band in the world! Kiss! Kiss is back with their 20th studio album, Monster, the follow up to 2009’s fabulous Sonic Boom. Can Kiss repeat their spectacular performance from their last album, or will Monster fall flat on its face? That is a question that many die hard Kiss fans were wondering. Do these aging rockers still have what it takes to produce a record that fans are going to want to listen to over and over again?
If the album were judged solely on the strength of the first single (and first track), “Hell Or Hallelujah,” then the answer is no. “Hell Or Hallelujah” is not a strong song. It’s not a terrible piece of music, it is just plain, which is not something that one would expect from Kiss. Fortunately for fans all over the world, Monster contains more than just the lead track.
Monster is armed with typical Kiss themes of girls, music, girls, parties, girls, rock and roll, and girls. And even though they are aging rockers, they still make singing about girls and rock music a whole lot of fun. Kiss has delivered a phenomenal package of rock music that both long time fans and newcomers alike are going to love. After nearly 40 years in the business, Kiss still has what it takes to make a significant rock record that music lovers will want to hear.
“Wall Of Sound” is a terrific, hard rocker featuring lead vocals by Gene Simmons. Thankfully, this is not a self-centered Gene Simmons song about sleeping with thousands of women, or being the greatest human being alive. On “Wall Of Sound,” Gene reached a little deeper to not flaunt himself, but to sing about rock and roll and the wall of sound that makes fans excited. “Wall Of Sound,” can also be used as a metaphor for life, showing how the harder you try at something, the better you are going to be. It all comes down to the amount of effort a person is willing to put in. With slick solos by Tommy Thayer, and beautiful musical arrangements and chord changes, “Wall Of Sound” is one of the better songs to be found on Monster.
Tommy Thayer takes over lead vocals for the tantalizing “Outta This World.” This is a superb song with terrific solos, excellent changes, and a great beat. Hearing Tommy sing lead vocals is a real treat as well and left me wanting to hear Thayer sing lead on more songs. Thayer has a solid voice, is adept at crafting a song, and creates al highly enjoyable experience for the listener. I would much rather see Tommy Thayer perform “Outta This World” live, instead of “Shock Me.” Let’s hope that Kiss let’s Tommy’s original songs speak for themselves on the next tour.
“Long Way Down” is a nice melodic rocker composed and sung by Paul Stanley. The harmony vocals from Tommy Thayer add a nice touch and provide a pleasing balance with Paul’s voice. “Long Way Down,” is another of those great Kiss rock and roll songs, telling stories about the crowd, the music business, and continuing to make a significant contribution in rock and roll after many years. It’s always enjoyable when Paul writes from the heart, and “Long Way Down” feels like a song that Stanley really put all of his emotions into as a thank you to the fans.
“Take Me Down,” is one of the best tracks that Monster has to offer. Not surprisingly, this is a song about loving women and the sexual escapades that can only happen to a member of a rock band. What makes “Take Me Down” so grand is the depth provided in the music. While the lyrics are playful and light, the musical composition is deep and meaningful. It’s quite obvious that the addition of Tommy Thayer to the band has had a profound effect on Kiss. The extra layers of depth and creativity that Thayer provides has not gone unnoticed. He has been able to elevate Kiss to continue to make significant music.
“All For The Love Of Rock & Roll” finds Eric Singer on lead vocals, doing a fine job. While his voice is reminiscent of Peter Criss, Singer provides enough of his own personality to help “All For The Love Of Rock & Roll” stand out as his own song. Singing about performing the music for love, not for fame or girls, is a tired theme that has been revisited countless times by endless bands, but hearing Eric Singer give his take on the theme is still a treat for the ears. This is another song that I hope Kiss will consider performing in concert.
Once again, Kiss has delivered another high quality record. Monster is better than Sonic Boom, better than Psycho Circus, and rivals their albums of the 70s for greatest Kiss albums ever. Once again, Kiss has recorded music for the masses that already has fans wondering when they will release more. Because when something is this good, you just can’t get enough!
Rating: Out of 10
- Hell Or Hallelujah
- Wall Of Sound
- Back To The Stone
- Shout Mercy
- Eat Your Heart Out
- Long Way Down
- The Devil Is Me
- Outta This World
- Take Me Down
- All For The Love Of Rock & Roll
- Last Chance
Gene Simmons – Vocals, Bass Guitar
Paul Stanley – Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Tommy Thayer – Lead Guitar, Vocals
Eric Singer – Drums, Vocals
On October 9th, Kiss will release their 20th studio album (I’m not including the solo albums or hits album in that count). The title of the record is Monster, but I have my doubts that it will be. Most of the regular readers of Vie’s Verses know that I am a huge Kiss fan, so perhaps I can be a bit too critical of my favorite band. I place them on a very high pedestal and only expect greatness from every record. Over the years, the band has never let me down. Even albums that casual fans think are garbage (Crazy Nights, Music From The Elder) are solid, if not great, albums, in my opinion. However, I can’t help thinking that Monster is going to suck.
The first single, “Hell Or Hallelujah,” is just terrible. There’s no way to sugar coat that, and there’s really not even much about the song that I can praise. It sounds like a left over from the Sonic Boom sessions that didn’t make the cut (and for good reason). It’s just a bad, boring song. Paul’s vocals are weak, the lyrics are pretty lame, and there is no cohesiveness to pull the song through. If this is any indication of how the rest of the album is going to sound then there will be a lot of disappointed Kiss fans. (Check out “Hell or Hallelujah” below.)
I’ll admit, I felt the same way when I first heard “Psycho Circus.” I thought that album was going to be a bomb and it turned out to be one of the better Kiss records in their catalog. After a while “Psycho Circus” even grew on me and now I enjoy the song when I hear it. But when the single was first released, I remember scratching my head, saying “what the hell were they thinking?”
Kiss is also coming off a surprisingly fantastic record. Sonic Boom was given the title of album of the year, 2009, by yours truly. It was a record that had depth, found all four members of the band taking over lead vocals at some point, and was very diverse. Yes, there were a couple of lame moments (notably Gene’s ode to women and himself on “Nobody’s Perfect”), but those moments were few and far between. Sonic Boom also gave us some gems like “Never Enough,” “Stand,” and “Say Yeah.” That was a great trade off for one lousy Gene Simmons song.
The point is that it can be very hard to follow up a terrific album with one that is equally as grand, or better. And when it comes to my favorite band of all time, I want each record to be better than the last. It’s been 3 years since Kiss released Sonic Boom, so the band has had time to craft their songs and pick out only the cream of the crop. But with tours, reality shows, art galleries, and the like, I’m not sure how much effort Kiss put into this record. I hope that I am way off the mark. I hope that Monster is one of their best records ever. However, I don’t think that it will be. I have a strong feeling that Monster is going to be a letdown.
Let’s face it, Kiss isn’t getting any younger. And as cool as he is, hearing a 65 year old Gene Simmons sing about all the ladies he wants to bed has gone from crazy cool to kind of old man perverted. That’s one of the downsides of aging. If your grandfather was talking about hooking up with some 25 year old hottie, you’d find it a little off. Yeah, it’s great that granddad still wants to do the nasty, but I’m not really sure that we want all of the details. At their age, Kiss should be maturing and writing music that reflects that. It’s not easy to do, I know. We don’t want songs about hospitals and hip surgery, but I’m not sure that I want songs about Gene getting it on in a one night stand.
In the end, Monster is going to be another record about sex and rock and roll. Perhaps it will be as good as Sonic Boom, perhaps it will be even better. I have my doubts, but again, it’s because I am very critical of the band. On October 9th, I may be in for a huge surprise. What about you? How do you think the new Kiss record is going to be? Do you think it will be a huge hit, or a complete bomb? Drop a line in the comments and let us know.
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KISS has been revealing pieces of their new album art for their up and coming album, Monster, at select websites throughout the month of June.
Today, the final piece was revealed, and the new album art is now available. Monster is due out October 16th.