I am writing this review as I am away for 4 weeks for training for my place of work. It is a management training course and I knew that something would see a possible increase while I am staying at the hotel is an increase in “Rants” that I could write for this blog. So far I have been 100% correct as I have currently written one yesterday and here during my second day am working on my second…..but this one is special.
This blog will be a review of the 101st KISS/KISS related cd that I have purchased during my time as a fan of the band. Of those 101 cds I have every KISS studio album released in North America. It also emcompasses all the import cds that I have ordered from Japan, Holland, The United Kingdom and Germany. I have purchased cds from the past and current members of KISS that they have been released and also any tribute albums for the band.
Although I am one of the few people who thought Sonic Boom was a solid album, much more so than Psycho Circus, I was a little hesitant on what this album could contain. My one big complaint was the lack of solid songs sung by Gene Simmons. What I was hoping for were songs that sounded like his efforts on Creatures Of The Night and Revenge, Sonic Boom’s efforts were much more similar to what he came up with during the non-make up 1980’s era.
Did Monster trample me impressively like Godzilla? Let’s see shall we…….
#1 – Hell Or Hallejuah
The first track off of the cd and the first single off of the album as well, it is a very good track. Vocals are handled by Paul Stanley and he comes through with flying colors. The opening guitar riff by Tommy Thayer really sets the tone for the rest of the song and speaking of Tommy, he truly steps out from the shadows of Ace Frehley on this track. The song is a kick to the gut, straight forward rock and roll effort that sounds like it would have easily come off of the Lick It Up cd. A very start to the new album.
#2 – Wall Of Sound
This song features lead vocals by The Demon himself, Gene Simmons. A very cool bass riff drives this track in the very beginning but the song features some fantastic guitar work from Thayer once again and I have to say that the song is not all that bad. It is still not the song I want from Gene Simmons but it is much more in line in what Gene contributed to the Hot In The Shade album (which was probably his best 80’s effort) but I still want more songs like his tracks on Revenge. Again I have to say that Tommy Thayer’s guitar playing really is the highlight of this song.
#3 – Freak
The second song in which Paul Stanley handles the chores on lead vocals, the guitar and bass sound is pristine in this track. It is also some of the heaviest drums I have heard Eric Singer play since Revenge. The song is much better than it probably deserves to be and I am ok with that. The vocal harmonies are really well done but I know people will get tired of me saying this but Thayer really shines again with his guitar playing. My only real gripe with the track is the semi talking/singing portion towards the end of the song. It came off a tad cheesy. Adding in a second, small Thayer solo would have added more to the song than that part did.
#4 – Back To The Stone Age
Wow, I am freaking over the sound of the bass at the start of this song. My goodness it gives me cold chills and it really has me excited for this song. The way that Singer’s drums follow the thumping bass line is amazing. This track features Simmons on vocals and is a really good track. Once again the vocal harmonies that lead into the chorus are superb but the chorus itself is another matter. I truly think KISS tried to craft this as a fan rallying song that the audience could belt out with them but the chorus comes off too contrived and rather simple I guess. I am not expecting a Mozart level of difficulty but maybe a little more than what this song’s chorus offers. A better chorus would have elevated the song to the next level.
#5 – Shout Mercy
This track sounds like it could have easily been on Paul Stanley’s solo album Live To Win. The vibe of the song really matches what he created for that album. The vocals are tight and Paul of course nails it on lead vocals. I really wish KISS could have a kick ass chorus for a song on this cd. It may be the odd choices for names that they used but I have been left feeling rather overwhelmed so far by them. I really love Thayer’s solo on this track and it is something that stands out as truly unique. KISS has employed Ace Frehley, Vinnie Vincent and Bruce Kulick, but Tommy Thayer has steadily taken all the criticism and developed his own sound.
#6 – Long Way Down
I am unsure how I feel about the start to this song in all honesty. I just can’t put my finger on it yet after a few listens but it really doesn’t grab me yet. It really fits in with what I heard off of Crazy Nights and Hot In The Shade and that is not a bad thing. it is just that even though the best songs on those two albums were those by Paul Stanley like this one is, it took a long time for some of them to really grow on me and for me to appreciate what they truly are. This song will follow that same path it seems. The harmonizing vocals are tight once again and I have to say that so far, this song has the best chorus thus far. It really is a different song compared to what we have heard so far.
#7 – Eat Your Heart Out
I will say that the a capella vocals at the start of the song is a different way to grab your attention but the instruments kick in so ferociously it knocks the air out of you and I really love it. The chorus really works for this track and the harmony on the chorus is kick ass. The lead vocals are handled by Gene Simmons and I have to say that so far, this is my favorite song by him since the Revenge album. Tommy Thayer really plays his ass off in this song and it is his guitar sound that gives this song it’s soul. The song really surprised me but I am very glad that it did.
#8 – The Devil Is Me
The start to this song made me think of God Of Thunder for some reason and that is a very, very good thing! The way that Simmons tackles the vocals is something I have waited a long time for, as we get a song that he can tap into the growling Demon persona. Is it 100% perfect? Oh hell no, but it is a great effort by Gene that fans have been waiting for. How many solos will Tommy Thayer craft on this cd that has me wanting even more of his playing? The guy is really playing his ass off on this record and if anyone refuses to acknowledge how great his playing is on this cd, well, I feel really sorry for them.
#9 – Outta This World
Well this is the one song that Tommy Thayer handles the lead vocals on and he sounds a lot like Gene Simmons in the way he sings. Tommy is actually a very solid singer and he shows it here. One thing I do wish Paul and Gene would allow him to do , is not always sing “The Spaceman” song. Although the song does gravitate from theme in the verses and stands on it’s own, the chorus pulls you right back into “Oh yeah, Tommy is now The Spaceman.” The highlight of the track is once again Thayer’s playing of the Les Paul and the vocal harmonies. This is the song that actually nails the lead in vocals and the chorus with 100% perfection. So far, this is my favorite track on the cd.
#10 – All For The Love Of Rock & Roll
This song allows Eric Singer the opportunity to have his one song on lead vocals as well, and yes I really dig this song. This really sounds like it could have come of one of the first 3 KISS studio albums. Eric Singer has one of my favorite voices in music and I can not figure out why he doesn’t get more chances to sing. This song is a true throw back to what we have heard on the first 3 studio albums for sure. The bass guitar really shines on this track and the chorus is fantastic. Now, this is the song that I could picture the audience singing along with in concert. They need to play this track live!!!! I am now thinking this is the best track on the album and I wish we had more like it!!!
#11 – Take meDown Below
Wow does this song ever sound like an AC/DC track at the very start. The way Gene sings his part this track is more of “gritty and dirty” manner and if he had more vocal efforts like this on the cd it would kick so much ass. Paul comes in on the second verse and the two founding members have their first shared lead vocal song. The track reeks of the vibe and feel that Revenge gave us and I am sitting here smiling wide because of it. The second half of this album has really saved this cd for me from being disappointing.
#12 – Last Chance
Dear god that bass riff at the start is awesome. Sometimes I forget how good a bass player Gene Simmons really is. Paul Stanley helms the lead vocals on the final track of the cd and he once again nails it. Pretty much you can count on a Paul song to come through on some level as his song writing and vocal performance have only gotten better with age. Eric Singer’s drums and Tommy Thayer’s playing really drive the song and the bass compliments them very well. I do not like the “Ah, ah ahhhhh” type of chorus but then again how many songs on the album gave me a chorus I was truly happy with.
Monster is a mixed bag for me that really gets much better as the album goes along. I would rate it above Sonic Boom but there is definite room for improvement for KISS to make their next kick ass album. It seems that both Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley’s influence can be heard in the songs. The songs that seem to be more of an experiment follows the way that Gene seems to approach his songs that he write/sings, as he will push himself outside of his comfort zone which is not always a good thing. Paul, on the other hand, really has some of the best material on the album, as he finds a way to tap into the material that the band handles extremely well.
The real gems on this album are the songs that Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer on the vocals. Just like Sonic Boom, I enjoyed their songs the most out of all the ones on the album. More songs with Eric Singer on vocals and in that early KISS sound would really drive the album into the next level. I also believe that the guitar playing of Tommy Thayer is the what drives this album and his continued development of his own sound is a highlight.
KISS is on the right track and I am hoping that they kind of put it all together for the next album. Yes I really, really am hoping for a third studio album from this version of KISS as you can hear the band gel more with each album.
SCORE: 7.5 / 10
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