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Hotter Than Hell
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on September 23, 1999
Although the first KISS album is a classic, it suffered from bad production, making the songs sound weak and thin. This second outing from the "Painted Ones" sounds much heavier and has a wall of sound production that gives this album an "edge" that some KISS albums lack. Suprisingly, this album is often overlooked considering that some of the most bonafide KISS KLASSIKS are here. "Let Me Go, Rock N Roll" is a heavy Rockabilly number that has remained a staple of KISS live shows to this day. Likewise, "Parasite", "Watchin' You", and "Hotter Than Hell" are true gems that most KISS fans can easily start singing at the mere mention of their names. This is easily my favorite of the classic KISS albums and it sounds best when listining to it at top volume with headphones at 3:00 am.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2012
The beginning....... In 1974 KISS released their first 3 albums in 12 months. Hotter Than Hell was the 2nd one. They were new on the scene, touring constantly, trying to find their sound and creating a live following. HTH documents this scenario perfectly.

The sound on the album can only be described as bass driven and muddy. The guitar solos are Ace's most unique and the songwriting is basic, cavemanish, rushed, unpolished, raw & simple.

All of the things mentioned above ended up being perfect ingredients for an incredible album. A snapshot of the time when a beast was learning how to walk and hunt and kill.

Seems to me that for KISS the songs that they come up with fast and record live in the studio seem to be their best. If you overthink it or beat it to death, the initial urgency/passion of the song fades away. Hotter Than Hell is one of a kind. No other KISS album is like it. If you were to clean it up or try to make it sound better you would destroy it.

All 4 band members put their stamp on this one. Strange ways is so unique that it is the highlight of this album. The guitar solo cannot be duplicated. Frehley channels the spirits of tortured souls through his Les Paul and the Marshall Amplifier can barely keep them contained from entering our dimension. When I played Strange Ways in the car my wife thought the cassette was dragging.....she hated it.....naturally I loved it and informed her that it was actually a CD and that it just has that slow, sludgy, heaviness. The only thing that has ever come close to the solo is Randy Bachman (BTO) guitar solo in "Second Hand" 2:05-end of song.

This album came out when KISS was hungry.....and it shows!!!
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on October 11, 2004
Many point to this album as not being one of Kiss' better efforts, or that it was a career "misstep"; in a way, I agree with the first, but I definitely don't agree with the second. Yes, this is not one of their better efforts, but it certainly doesn't suck by any means; the "sophomore jinx" didn't apply here as Kiss returned with a vengeance not quite 8 months after their classic debut was released.

During this period, Kiss were still trying to find their sound and establish their identity (or rather, conceal their identity!); they were touring at a near-constant pace and also facing a lot of pressure from their record label and management to deliver a "hit" album. So considering that this was rehearsed and recorded very quickly on their rare days off from touring (and not to mention that this was their 2nd album released in the same year), it's a consistent and rewarding album.

I absorbed "Hotter Than Hell" pretty heavily back in the day, but I've recently began re-absorbing it and have developed an even greater appreciation for it 30 years later. I agree with the many people who have said that the sound quality and production on this album are substandard and primitive, but perhaps that was the point of it all; a majority of the basic tracks were recorded live in the studio, and the liner notes on the CD state that with this album, Kiss succeeded in achieving the "untamed" sound they had been searching for.

Musically, the one member of Kiss who shines on this album is Ace Frehley; he began to make his presence known and stepped up to the plate to deliver some of his best guitar solos as well as some of his best and heaviest songs. "Strange Ways" is a prime example...the guitars are loud and leaden-sounding, and the plodding rhythms in the intro provided by the drums & bass make it sound like a sort of heavy metal Indian war dance. Ace furiously picks a frenetic, Hendrix-like guitar solo that will positively rip your head off at high volume!

My next favorite track is the somewhat disturbing "Goin' Blind", where Gene Simmons puts himself into the mind and body of a 93-year old man who is having a sordid affair with a 16-year old girl. As bizarre as the subject matter of the song is, it's classic Gene Simmons through and through; again, Ace Frehley delivers a short but effective guitar solo. Other standouts are the concert classic "Watchin' You", the slow and slurred title track and another concert staple "Let Me Go, Rock & Roll". Lastly, the oriental influence that dominates the album cover art gives it an "imported" look; at first glance, I thought that the album was a Japanese import and not an American release!

Overall, "Hotter Than Hell" is a definite progression from the more "tame" sound that characterized their debut album. Give it another listen and rediscover a true diamond in the rough!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on March 10, 2006
Don't laugh. This is a very good album and it stayed in constant rotation on my turntable when it first came out.

It's a rock guitar dream come true. Just listen to Strange Ways and tell me Ace can't play some fantastic guitar. This was in the days when they were struggling to make a name for themselves. Not the greatest sound quality. Still this is one for a true fan of the band and anyone who loves 70's hard rock guitar.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 16, 2006
After the poor reception and slow sales of Kiss' first album, the record company ordered them to return to the studio just a few months after the first album was released to create another album. The result was one of the best albums of their career, even though the production is a bit shoddy.

1. Got To Choose-5/5. Excellent Paul song that wasn't performed much after the Alive album. The lyrics are really cool and the vocals are excellent. Very heavy song.
2. Parasite-5/5. Another song written by Ace and sung by Gene. This has a classic heavy metal riff with great lyrics and plenty of attitude.
3. Goin' Blind-5/5. Great song by Gene with excellent music and vocals. The lyrics aren't great but they aren't terrible either. The most appealing thing about this song is the music. It is very unique.
4. Hotter Than Hell-5/5. This song is where the bad production shows up more than on any other. The song itself is great. Very heavy riff, great lyrics and vocals by Paul. One of their best.
5. Let Me Go, Rock and Roll-5/5. Very upbeat, fast tempo song written by Paul and Gene and sung by Gene. The lyrics are very rock and roll type lyrics. The chorus is very catchy. A great song.
6. All the Way-4/5. Another heavy song by Gene. The vocals are great, the music is cool, but the chorus is lacking a bit, making this a 4 instead of a 5. Still great, though.
7. Watchin' You-5/5. One of my personal favorite Kiss songs. The lyrics and vocals are really cool and the riff is awesome. Heavy metal at its best.
8. Mainline-4/5. Written by Paul and sung by Peter, this is a great song, but is very different for Kiss. It doesn't have the heavy riffs that most Kiss songs have and the chorus has a more rock and less metal feel to it.
9. Comin' Home-4/5. This is another example of how bad the production on this album is. The vocals sound rough. The music is cool but it is too distorted and there is way too much bottom end. This song would have been much better if the production would have been better.
10. Strange Ways-5/5. Very heavy song from Ace and sung by Peter. The riff is super heavy. Slow tempo gives it a monster metal feel to it. One of the best songs from Ace.

This album would have been near perfect if the production would have been much better. Although the band says that they were rushed for songs on this one and "Dressed To Kill", the songs themselves would never show it. They are among the best in Kiss' history. This album is a must for every Kiss fan, but may not be for casual fans.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2000
THE BAND: Gene Simmons (Gene Klein), Paul Stanley (Stanley Eisen), Ace Frehley (Paul Frehley), Peter Criss (Peter Crisscoula).

THE DISC: Released 10/22/74. Recorded at The Village Recorder in Los Angeles, CA. 10 songs clocking in at approximately 33 minutes. Hints of Japanese culture on the cover in conjunction with the band's kabuki style make up. Originally released on Casablanca Records in 1974; this remastered edition was released in 1997 on Mercury's label. Slightly improved sound in my book (deeper bass guitars and crisper highs)... but that's not saying much - the production on this album (and their first release) are downright horrible. Liner notes are slim - a 2 page fold out with song titles, writing credits and times. Underneath the disc on the inside cover, there's an informative 5 paragraph history of what the band was going through at the time.

COMMENTS: No radio hits here, however "Alive" (1975) featured 5 killer songs from "Hotter Than Hell"... the title track, "Parasite", "Let Me Go, Rock and Roll", "Watchin' You", and "Got To Choose". The deeper album cuts were very good as well - like "Goin' Blind", "Mainline" and "All The Way". In my opinion, the song writing here is/was top notch for Kiss. However, Kiss proved ultimately, that their live show was without question, far superior to their vinyl release(s). Great songs; flat production; a sign of greater things to come.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Sludgy, dark, and moody, KISS' sophomore album, "Hotter Than Hell," is considered one of the group's low points in its early years by many mainstream rock enthusiasts. However, I personally feel that it is one of their best offerings for a number of reasons. The first reason is the fact that this album was an attempt to sound more like one of KISS' bombastic live shows. It's a well-known fact that KISS' popularity didn't really take off until after the release of "Alive" (two albums later), so you can't fault the producers or the band for trying to catch the raw energy of their live show on a studio album.

Secondly, the song collection ranges from typical KISS fare like the title track, "Let Me Go, Rock n' Roll," and "Mainline," to darker rockers like "Parasite" and "Goin' Blind." As expected, Paul Stanley shines on the songs that lean more to the pop spectrum of rock n' roll. Peter Criss takes lead on "Mainline" and "Strange Ways" and handles them both in his typical gruff-voiced way. Gene Simmons leads the bulk of the album, fronting five of the album's ten tracks. If you've never heard "Goin' Blind," I highly recommend it. It is once of Simmons' best songs.

The third reason, and quite possible the biggest reason this album gets better with each listen, is the writing and guitar playing of Ace Frehley. He penned two of the album's songs, "Parasite" and "Strange Ways," and co-wrote "Comin' Home" with Paul Stanley. All three of these tracks are, in my opinion, some of KISS' best early tunes. Frehley's guitar has rarely sounded better than on this album as well. The album's sound, particularly the sludginess of many of the songs, seems to lend itself to Frehley. His solos on this album are wonderful.

Overall, this album is often overlooked by casual fans of the group. You can't really blame them, however, given the large amount of greatest hits packages that the band has offered over the years. If you're a true KISS fan, you probably already have this album. If you've been holding off on buying it due to the lack of major singles, you're missing a real treat. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2003
In 1974 Kiss released its first album which didn't sell very well. While touring they recorded another album and released it as soon as they could. This album was rushed and the production is a bit thin. Especially the drums which don't sound very powerful. Production flaws aside the songs themselves are killer. I like the muddy, heavy guitar sound. In fact this is Kisse's heaviest album of the 70s. This album is best heard cranked to the max at home or cruisin down the freeway.
1. Got to Choose. 8/10 Paul really plays great rythmn guitar on this one. Ace throws in a great solo as usual.
2. Parasite. 10/10 One of my favorite riffs in Kisstory. I like Gene's powerful vocals on this one.
3. Goin Blind. 1/10 I don't like this song. Just something about it doesn't have the Kiss magic. Even Ace's outstanding solo doesn't salvage this song for me.
4. Hotter Than Hell. 9/10 Much slower than when they play it live, but the studio version is still great. Has a nasty crunch and mean swagger. Ace & Paul really compliment each other on guitar.
5. Let Me Go Rock & Roll. 10/10 Adds a great 50s flavor and just rocks out. Great guitars, great song!
6. All the Way. 7/10 Good singing by the Demon but not a classic.
7. Watchin You. 10/10 Very catchy guitars on this one. Classic Kiss.
8. Mainline. 7/10 Peter sings on his one and does an outstanding job.
9. Comin Home. 9/10 Very sexy, hard rock swagger on this one.
10. Strange Ways. 9/10 Heavy song for 1974. Good album closer.
This is a good addition to your Kiss catalog if you are just starting to build your Kiss Kollection. Must have to be in the Kiss Army. Also pick up Dressed to Kill and Destroyer.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on November 29, 2011
This album is absolutely perfect. Every song is good rock and roll that is meant to be listened to at loud volumes. I can listen to this album over and over again and not get tired of it. The songs have an amazing sound. I highly recommend this album.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2009
"Hotter Than Hell" was released only 6 months after Kiss' self-titled debut, and in some ways it shows: the playing isn't as tight here, and the songs lack a little polish for less preparation time. On the other hand, much of the material IS quite strong, and the production quality was beefed up in an attempt to make Kiss actually SOUND "like Kiss."

Straight-ahead rockers like the title track, "Mainline" and "Got to Choose" have all the bombast you might expect, but they are balanced by occasional oddities like "Goin' Blind" and "Strange Ways." Peter gets a couple of vocal tracks here, and Kiss is stronger for it: his bluesy voice, along with Gene's growl and Paul's wail, makes for an extremely efficient triple-threat.

First-time listeners to this disc might actually think something is wrong with their copy due to the heavy fuzz and booming echo. All involved parties thought that the first Kiss record didn't sound as "heavy" as they actually did live, so efforts were made to strengthen their sound for their second release, and I must say, "Hotter than Hell" sounds like no other Kiss record! It's dark, boomy, a sort of "if Phil Spector did heavy metal" wall of sound. My experience with this album is, you either get hooked on it right away, or becomes a rarely-listened-to oddity.
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