KISS ‘Monster’

 

Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#797 in the Series) is KISS, Monster

KISS has recently released their 20th studio album, “Monster,” and every KISS fan in the world is gonna gobble it up, no matter what it sounds like or how it is reviewed. They always have and always will and they are part of the reason the band has been a perpetual marketing juggernaut, regardless of whether they were producing a good product musically, or not.

There are basically three versions of KISS; The classic lineup (Ace Frehley, Gene Simmons, Peter Criss and Paul Stanley) from our beloved “Dazed and Confused” era from 1974 to 1982 (KISS – Unmasked ). They were amazing trailblazers in many ways with album sales and sold out tours, films, T.V. specials and tons of merchandise.

Then there is the ten year period where the band that never needed to sell out, sold out. From 1982 to 1992 (Lick It Up – Hot in the Shade), the band became a hair band and power ballad kitsch-fest while still managing to have radio and MTV hits and huge tours.

Finally, you have 1992 to present. Since 1992’s Revenge, the last 20 years have seen the band stay true to their pop/metal roots with four solid albums and a stable lineup of band mates to complement longtime founders Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. Monster stays true to this aging, third stage and is their fifth straight album of really solid work over the past 20 years.

Under guitarist/lead vocalist Stanley’s production, the album is slick and full with lots of popish hooks, swerving metal licks and a pumped up and grooving rhythm section. He decided to go back to analog with the production, which is making a big comeback with many older and newer bands, and it really works for the group by making the sound of this album very reminiscent of Stanley’s fantastically rich 1978 solo lp, the best and most “KISS-like” of the four original member’s solo efforts.

The disc opens with a bang on “Hell or Hallelujah” with Stanley’s still commanding tenor soaring over lead guitarist Tommy Thayer’s staggered, descending chicken picking leads that turn into pulsing wails and stay true to Frehley’s original sound with the band. On the lyrically fun and punkish “Freak,” Stanley is still vocally spry for and old man. He’s still feeling it and remembering the New York City streets where they came from.

Again, Thayer captures the sound of Frehley’s work with the original band without being a mimic. This is best shown on “Outta This World” where Tommy gets to sing the usual “Space Ace” type number (ala “Shock Me”) with spacey and fun lyrics, a really nice bridge and more of the descending staccato leads that made the band’s sound famous.

Longtime drummer, Eric Singer, gets his shot at lead vocals on “All For the Love of Rock and Roll” (not to be confused with the great Tuff Darts number) and, like Thayer, harkens back to the chunky soul sound of original drummer Peter Criss’ voice while bringing something of his own to the game. Of course, these guys knew this when they joined the band and seem to be perfectly happy with it, as they should be. The lyrics are fun, as they are with the entire album, and have that same machismo, brassiness as they did in the “Hotter Than Hell” days.

But the real star of this album is bassist/lead vocalist Gene Simmons and the album, at times, seems like a Stanley produced Gene solo work. His vocals range from passionate to angry but are full of life throughout, most notably on “Wall of Sound” and “Back to the Stone Age.”

“Eat Your Heart Out” is exceptionally fun and is a tour back through KISS-tory and the “Calling Dr. Love” age, with its doo-wop vocal intro, groovy buffalo finger bass lines and call and response background vocals. It’s big, ’70’s stadium rock and nobody does it better. Thayer’s lead soars and Singer’s chunky cowbell and backbeats add to the fun. It is what KISS has always been; pure pop for metal heads and metal that pop fans don’t have to fear.

There are more great bass riffs on “The Devil is Me” from the God of Thunder and the closing number “Last Chance,” and Simmons simply plays and sings his heart out on this recording.

Have we heard this before? Of course we have but, please, find a group that can do it better. You won’t. When so many other artists of the same age as KISS are embarrassing themselves, this band can still stand proud and Monster is proof of that!

— Bubby Lewis, Frostburg, Maryland USA

Track listing

  1. “Hell or Hallelujah” (Stanley) 4:07
  2. “Wall of Sound” (Stanley, Simmons, Thayer) 2:55
  3. “Freak” (Stanley, Thayer ) 3:35
  4. “Back to the Stone Age” (Simmons, Stanley, Thayer, Singer) 3:01
  5. “Shout Mercy” (Stanley, Thayer) 4:04
  6. “Long Way Down” (Stanley, Thayer) 3:51
  7. “Eat Your Heart Out” (Simmons) 4:06
  8. “The Devil Is Me” (Simmons, Stanley, Thayer) 3:40
  9. “Outta This World” (Thayer) 4:29
  10. “All for the Love of Rock & Roll” (Stanley )3:21
  11. “Take Me Down Below” (Simmons, Stanley, Thayer) 3:24
  12. “Last Chance” (Stanley, Simmons, Thayer) 3:05

Personnel

  • Paul Stanley – rhythm guitar, vocals
  • Gene Simmons – bass guitar, vocals
  • Tommy Thayer – lead guitar, vocals
  • Eric Singer – drums, vocals

Additional personnel

  • Brian Whelan – piano on “Freak”

Give it a listen in its entirety below

Kiss on Letterman

Here’s some more rockin’ pieces we’ve done. Check ’em out!

  • Angel City
  • Rival Sons
  • Led Zeppelin 'Presence'
  • Nina Hagen Band 'Nina Hagen Band'
  • Spinal Tap 'This is Spinal Tap'
  • The Who 'Live at Leeds'
  • Randy Hansen 'Randy Hansen'
  • Alice Cooper 'Welcome to My Nightmare'
  • Bachman - Turner Overdrive 'Not Fragile'
  • Black Sabbath '13'
  • Dust 'Dust/Hard Attack'
  • Black Star Riders 'All Hell Breaks Loose'
  • Black Sabbath Just Might Be Coming To A Town Near You in 2013. We Have Their Tour Dates.
  • Montrose 'Paper Money'
  • Thin Lizzy 'UK Tour '75'
  • Scorpions 'Fly To The Rainbow'
  • KISS 'Monster'
  • Deep Purple 'Machine Head'
  • Attila
  • Montrose
  • Rush
  • Deep Purple
  • Black Sabbath
  • UFO
  • Budgie
  • Lucifer's Friend
  • Alice Cooper
  • Aerosmith
  • Uriah Heep
  • Nirvana 'Nevermind'
  • Led Zeppelin
  • Living Colour
  • Ministry
  • The Jimi Hendrix Experience
  • U.F.O.
  • The Who
  • Ted Nugent
  • Judas Priest
  • UFO "Force It"

 

Posted by Larry Carta

1 Comment

  1. Emily (23 Oct 2012, 8:53)
    Reply

    I don’t know. Watching that clip from Lettermen, the whole makeup thing seems a little pathetic now that these guys are older. It’s so last century.



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