By: William Clark
“Ladies and gentlemen! You wanted the best, you got the best! The hottest band on Earth, KISS!” That’s right, folks. Rock and roll’s comic book heroes, KISS, have returned to 2012 giving an earload of mighty roars with their new powerhouse of an album, Monster.
But, before we get into the new album, I think it’s safe to say that the members of KISS are some of the most experienced musicians in the music industry right now. Thirty-eight years of being in the business, 20 studio albums, over 40 million albums sold in the US alone, countless solo and side projects, and a wide array of KISS-themed merchandise including KISS Hello Kitty Toilet Paper and the KISS Kasket.
How many other bands can say they have their own brand of toilet paper?
Now, with all of this time spent in the business, and with the large volume of music the band has pushed out to date, many fans and critics alike have been found asking the same question: how can KISS give a new album that sounds fresh yet doesn’t step away from their classic sound?
Top that off with a promise from Gene Simmons that the new album is one of the best KISS has ever done, and you have a destructive tidal wave of doubt washing across even some of the most diehard of fans. Even this listener and fellow KISS maniac’s first thought was, “Nice sales pitch, Gene!”. However, after sitting down and actually listening to Monster, I’ve found the promise to be surprisingly accurate.
Now is Monster better than such classic albums as Love Gun and Rock And Roll Over? Absolutely not. But, it’s definitely up there with the best of them.
The album jump starts at supersonic speeds with “Hell or Hallelujah”, a righteous tune which bears some strong similarities to the classic “I Stole Your Love”, as well as some strong soloing which sounds right in line with something Angus Young might shred.
You have some growling Paul Stanley-led songs like “Eat Your Heart Out”, which boasts a simply awesome vocal harmony intro that could fit anywhere on Destroyer; and the experimentally awesome “Freak”, which showcases a perfectly executed acoustic breakdown, and honestly is very similar sounding to Alice Cooper’s single, “Eighteen”.
You also have the Demon-fronted “Back To The Stone Age”, which has to be one of Gene’s best songs he’s ever done with the group.
This track has Gene pushing out some lung busting screams that longtime fans haven’t heard The Demon emit too often. But, I know what you sceptics are still thinking. Yeah, the two remaining original members of Kiss give a dynamite performance. But what about Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer? There are many fans out there that feel Tommy and Eric’s roles in KISS were just inherited and not properly earned.
Well I think there are two specific tracks in Monster that should help change some opinions. “Outta This World” shows Tommy Thayer powerfully taking on his Spaceman persona, while “All For The Love Of Rock & Roll” has Eric Singer aka The Catman ruling a standout arena rock anthem. It’ll leave you chanting along to the chorus by the second time around.
In many ways, Monster has proven to be one of KISS’ best albums to date, falling right behind the band’s greatest classics.
Monster shows Eric and Tommy truly stepping into the shoes of their predecessors, while Gene and Paul create some of their best tracks in many years. There’s not a bad song in the bunch, and from start to finish Monster is jam packed full of worthy “Best Of” material that any KISS fan will undoubtedly be able to rock ‘n’ roll all deep into the night, and party to every day to.
Format: Audio CD
Original Release Date: October 9, 2012
Number of Discs: 1
Label: Universal Music Group
1) Hell Or Hallelujah
2) Wall Of Sound
4) Back To The Stone Age
5) Shout Mercy
6) Long Way Down
7) Eat Your Heart Out
8) The Devil Is Me
9) Outta This World
10) All For The Love Of Rock & Roll
11) Take Me Down Below
12) Last Chance
13) Right Here Right Now (Bonus Track)