on October 9, 2012
I wasn't blown away by the summer single "Hell or Hallelujah," but as a long-term member in good standing in the Kiss Army, I was still understandably excited about this 20th studio album. After two thorough listens, I *still* come up short on how to describe it! I definitely think it's the logical successor to "Sonic Boom," while at the same time I'm unable to compare it to ANY of their previous releases. When "SB" came out, it very clearly sounded like an attempt to recapture the glorious riffs of "Rock and Roll Over." With "Monster," I feel almost like I did when "Revenge" came out 20 years ago: it both sounded exactly like what ought to have followed "Hot in the Shade," and yet sounded *nothing* like its predecessor.
Paul Stanley has often said (although not in so few words) that he despises comparisons between albums: "Oh, that sounds like "Creatures" mixed with "Love Gun," or whatever. In the case of "Monster," I can see why. I could go out on a limb and say that "Monster" is what you'd get if you threw "Animalize" in a blender with "Carnival of Souls," then whipped in liberal amounts of Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, and other blues-based early '70s rock. But even that kind of comparison falls weakly on my ears. I just...don't hear anything like this in the Kiss canon.
I DO think the songwriting took a big leap over "SB," and the intricate guitar work is thunderous. This is *definitely* a guitar-driven album! The singing is good, and although Paul sounds a little raspier in 2012, there's none of the hoarseness and vocal pops that have so dominated the Kiss live show over the last two tours. Tommy's guitar playing, while definitely out of the Blue Cheer/Ace Frehley school of melodic lead, sounds WAY less Ace-ish than it did on "SB." The reverb on the record is good without being overpowering, and in all I find the mix really easy on the ears (esp. compared to the painful way "Destroyer Resurrected" comes across). Eric and Tommy get their obligatory songs, each sounding more-or-less like their original counterparts: Tommy's ode-to-Spaceman "Outta This World" could almost BE Ace vocal-wise, and if Eric had abused his voice with booze for decades he'd be a dead-ringer for Peter. Still, their songs are pretty great, and point up an interesting thing: for me, I like the LAST five songs better than the FIRST five. Go figure.
In all, this album sounds refreshingly modern, even as it obviously exists locked in the temporal time-slip that is hard rock/heavy metal. I'm pretty sure I'll be listening to "Monster" on my daily commute for the next couple of weeks; it's a solid album, and worthy of the Kiss lexicon.
I've been a huge KISS fan for quite a few years now, so it should come as no surprise to anyone that I've been eagerly waiting for the release of Monster. After the release of "Sonic Boom" (which I waited over a decade for) and the highly successful world tour in support of it, KISS announced that they would be releasing their next album some time in late 2011 (November if memory serves me correctly). When I heard this news, I became ecstatic.
KISS would leak tidbits of information about the writing and recording process (which baited fans even more) but as November drew near, the band became somewhat quiet. Soon enough, they announced that there new album wouldn't hit shelves until February of 2012. "Okay," I thought, "it's just a few more months." As February drew closer, however, KISS announced the date would be "sometime in the spring." I became discouraged and even a tad angry. I wanted something new from the band.
Finally, KISS announced the release date of October 9 here in the good ol' U.S. of A. They released the first single, "Hell Or Hallelujah" in July and the media onslaught began. Just a few months before the release of the single, KISS released info on their Monster book and also leaked out pictures for what would eventually be known as the album's photoshoot. They also toured with Motley Crue (which I took in at The Woodlands, TX).
Finally, October 9 arrived and I picked up my copy of the album. I can honestly say that it is the first album from KISS that immediately grabbed me. Despite being a loyal soldier in the KISS Army, it has always taken me at least a few months (or in the case of "Music From The Elder," years) to warm up to each KISS album. Monster chewed me up and spit me out from the first time I heard "Hell Or Hallelujah."
The lead single opens the album with an assault on the ears. It beats the listener down and sets them up for the pounding "Wall Of Sound." The track (as well as the entire album) is string heavy, and Gene Simmons' thudding and plodding bass hits you hard. Following "Wall Of Sound" is the Paul Stanley fronted "Freak." It's one of my favorite tunes on the album, an anthemic track for weirdos and outsiders like myself.
"Back To The Stone Age" finds Gene on the mic once again and Eric Singer's pounding drums really drive this tune. It's quickly followed up by "Long Way Down" and "Shout Mercy," two steady rockers that kept my fists in the air.
It's after these three rockers that KISS does something that threw me for a loop at first. "Eat Your Heart Out" opens with the band singing acapella. The complete lack of instruments after six loud, screaming, and electrified tracks is a bit of a shock, but somehow it works extremely well, as "Eat Your Heart Out" uses its humble opening to set you up for a slap in the face from the Demon! It's one of the best tracks on the album, and its unique opening sets it apart from the rest of the tracks on the album.
Next up is another Gene tune, "The Devil Is Me." Much like "Wall Of Sound," it consistently dashes listeners on the rocks. It's followed by the Tommy Thayer fronted "Outta This World." Despite the title referencing the old Space Ace moniker originally worn by Ace Frehley, Thayer makes this track all about him. It does remind me a bit of "Lightning Strikes" from "Sonic Boom," but I think that is primarily due to Thayer's voice.
Following the Space Man's tune is the track that I personally believe is the best on the entire album. Gene and Paul might not like me saying this, but Eric Singer's "All For The Love Of Rock & Roll" is brilliant. It manages to harness the soul of classic KISS tracks that were inspired by bands from the 50's and 60's. It's a metallized version of boogie soul, if that makes any sense. It's not the hardest track on the album, but it is definitely my favorite.
"Take Me Down Below" is next, and it finds Gene and Paul swapping lead vocals. It's a token dirty track from the band, but it sounds new and fresh.
"Last Chance" tops it all off with a fast and steady rock beat, and draws KISS' best album (in my opinion) since "Revenge" to a close.
Overall, the main points I feel should be highlighted about this album is the fact that it's a rock n' roll record and nothing else. KISS didn't try to make it the next "Destroyer" or go off an an experimental tangent as they did with "Music From The Elder." There are no slow songs, power ballads, or overly complicated tracks as the band did on many of their albums (particularly during the 80's). Nope, there's nothing but a beatdown waiting for the listener here.
Also, Gene's vocals are amazing on this album! I've always believed that he had the best voice in the band over the years, despite not having the range of Paul Stanley. He melds his voice to the "wall of sound" created by the instruments and doesn't sound like he's forcing anything. Stanley does an excellent job as well, but I believe his best work came from putting this album together and producing it with Greg Collins. While Gene might be the branding god of the group, Paul is the heart of the band, and his use of old fashioned analog recording equipment made the album sound ten times better than any polished digital music cranked out by today's bands. Eric Singer established himself as KISS' drummer many moons ago, so it's no surprise that he handles his duties perfectly on "Monster." I really do wish he would get more lead vocal opportunities, though, as I believe he has a great voice.
I'm going to single out Tommy Thayer in his own paragraph here. Why? Because with "Monster," Thayer is finally given breathing room to play in his own style. He was made to mimic Ace Frehley's style of playing on "Sonic Boom" to a degree and has often been criticized for being nothing more than a Frehley clone. Those arguments should be null and void with the release of this album. Thayer's chops are awesome on this album, and I found no "cloning" of the Space Ace in Thayer's work on this album. He contributed writing to nine of the albums tracks, and it's very noticeable.
"Monster" is a grinding, fierce album that lets everybody know that despite knocking hard on the door of their fourth decade of rock and roll, KISS has no plans to stop any time soon.
This "Monster" is a beast!
on October 13, 2012
First of all this cd need at leat 4 listens before it grows on you. I was i little disappointed with Sonic Boom but this cd is definetely much better. Songs like first single Hell Or Hallelujah, Wall of Sound, Back to the Stone Age, Shout Mercy are fists in you face, heavy rock with thunderous drumming and ferocious guitars. Awesome performance by Tommy Thayer as lead guitarist and i have to say Gene Simmons really deliver 4 classic tracks. This is the best Kiss album since Revenge.
on October 26, 2012
Whether it's their best, worst or in-between I could care less...I enjoy it! It's great to hear the current line up putting out some new songs. At this point people either love KISS or hate them...or maybe they like this era or that album...so it's pointless to argue over who is right and who is wrong. The bottom line is that KISS has produced a full-throttle and unapologetic album, and I hate to use a cliche but, that's all killer and no filler. Tommy Thayer really steps up with simple, direct yet catchy solos that embody the classic KISS/ACE sound while still being all his own. Both he and Eric Singer are assests to the band. The band sounds great, the only complaints I can voice are that the overall sound quality, while clean, is too LOUD. (And no, I'm not too old...don't think so anyway...) Everything sounds overmodulated, which seems to be the norm these days. The cover art is a cool photo, especially the 3D version at Best Buy (which also gets you some free swag from kissonline,) but it's a major step down from Sonic Boom's excellent, retro-cool artwork. I think Sonic Boom is the superior album between the two, but this one is getting plenty of airtime in and around my home!
on October 14, 2012
Can't stand the comparisons to the old days. It's not any of the other era's, it' something fresh and new, but it's definitely KISS. I think it's a stronger release than Sonic Boom overall with greater variety lyrically, in particular for Stanley. Upon multiple listens there are some fantastic tunes.
Shout Mercy, Long Way Down and Freak are outstanding Paul tunes, with greater variety in his writing than we've seen in some time.
This disc will get multiple spins.
on October 10, 2012
I will start off by expressing that I have been a KISS fan since I was a child growing up in the 70s. I had their posters all over my room. I used to pretend I was Ace playing air guitar listening to their records on a record player that "Santa" had brought me for Christmas one year. It was one of those turntables / 8-track players with a set of disco lights built into the bottom. :)
As for the album; the following is my opinion after my first listen. I liked the first four songs "Hell or Hallelujah", "Wall of Sound", "Freak" and "Back to the Stone Age". Those four songs are all solid rock songs with great guitar riffs and catchy melodic lyrics just like we have grown to expect from Gene and Paul. But after the next two songs (Shout Mercy and Long Way Down), I thought that this album was heading towards being simply an average one. Other than some impressive guitar playing from Tommy, those two songs were a little boring and uninspiring. But then, I was pleasantly surprised with "Eat Your Heart Out". This song is the jewel of the album in my opinion. It is pure Gene Simmons gold. It sounds like it could have come straight off of their Love Gun album. Gene's vocals, the background vocals and the guitar sound all have the Love Gun feel to them and Tommy plays an awesome solo on this song. That song is followed by another song that fits Gene perfectly in "The Devil Is Me". This song could be fun for him to perform live in his "Demon" persona. The next song "Outta This World" is written and sung by Tommy Thayer and is, by far, his best effort to date. This is one of the best songs on the album and Tommy's vocals are impressive as well as his guitars on this song. The next song (All For The Love of Rock & Roll) is sung by Eric and may be his best vocal performance to date as well. It is a pure throw-back hard rock song with a catchy chorus and groovy hooks. It sounds like it could have been recorded for Rock N Roll Over. The last two songs are not great, but better than simple filler songs. All in all, I was happy with the first listen.
After listening to the album a couple more times, I even like "Shout Mercy" and "Long Way Down" better and think this is one of the best albums KISS has made and I am glad to see them kick out two great records in a row within a couple of years. Rock and Roll isn't dead and "Monster" proves that.
Like most KISS fans, I would rather have Ace and Peter wearing the make-up, but I will have to admit that I'm not sure they could have worked well enough together with Gene and Paul to come out with two solid back-to-back albums like Sonic Boom and Monster at this point in their careers. Like him or not, Tommy is a great guitarist and shines on this album. Eric is also a very talented drummer and I am happy for both of them to be able to live their dreams in KISS.
on October 11, 2012
I don't think so... People who are slamming this record are just negative people who obviously never understood what Rock and Roll is about... Do I watch Gene Simmons' TV show? Hell NO!! Do I think Paul Stanley is the original model for Dr. Rockso? Most definitely yes!!! But can these guys play and write good Rock and Roll songs? YOU BET YOUR A$$!!!
Being a KISS fan, not a DIEHARD fan, but a KISS fan nonetheless, I too LOVE the early albums... Creatures of the Night and Revenge were great too, albeit relevant to the era... But were any of them PERFECT albums? I don't think so, but what is a perfect album anyways, if not relative to the listener.
To tell you the truth, I wasn't planning on purchasing this, at least not immediately, but seeing as it was only $9.99, I thought, well why not?
Verdict, I'm glad I bought the new KISS album!! It Rocks!! These guys actually surprised me BIG TIME!!! They went in and cut a no gimmicks, no BS Old school Rock and Roll record, that sounds and FEELS like that good ol' Classic Rock and Roll that has been missing from the modern day musical diet for quite some time.
The songs are all solid, the lyrics are good, not deadly serious, but fun (it's Rock And Roll remember) and the music itself is rockin!!
First, the guitar tones on this album just hit the spot... Warm, Rich and cutting!!! No bland digital sounding generics here... The guitars are in your face and just feel good!! The solos are amazing as well, the world needs more guitar solos!!!
The drums are great and so is Genes bass!!
One of the first things I tend to notice is the sound and production, it's amazing!!! No high compression BS here!! Just warm, rich analog, so anyone knocking the "Sound" of this record maybe needs to get their hearing checked because this is how ALL Rock And Roll records need to be produced!!!
All in all, if your a KISS fan, and more importantly and fan of Rock And Roll, this is a must buy record!! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!! \m/
on October 22, 2012
Okay, I decided to get to know the album before posting. The first time I heard it I was a little disappointed. The music was there, but I was expecting better vocals from Paul & Gene. But I have to say, the more I listen to this album the more I love it! All of the songs rock, and the singing is better than I originally gave it credit for. I also have to say that I believe a lot of the negative reviews are by people who dislike the band now since Ace & Peter are out. I love those two as much as the next guy, but they had their chances and blew it. Twice. I think Paul's songs are much stronger than his songs on SONIC BOOM, which sounded too much like 80's KISS to me. Besides HOH, I think "Freak" is his best, and "Eat your heart out" is Gene's best. I love Tommy's "Out of this world" (and I loved his song on SB also). Sure it's an Ace knock off. He's the Spaceman of the band now. I've been a fan of Tommy since 1984. I wish Ace was still in the band, but he's not so take it or leave it! I also love Gene's bass playing on this album- he has some cool licks! All I can say is- if you're a fan, don't judge it on one listen.I think it will grow on you VERY fast! These guys have been rocking us since 1974 and are still giving the fans what they want- New music that STILL rocks!
on October 14, 2012
Monter, the 20th studio album from KISS represents the Evolution of the Band. While it still has all the components of a KISS album, it also represents classic rock. I enjoy all of the tracks, but am especially fond of All for the Love of Rock and Roll. I love ther fact that KISS did not bring any outside collaborators onboard and that the four of them played all the tracks and wrote all the lyrics. A nice follow up to Sonic Boom, and easily a great opportunity for non KISS fans to listen and enjoy what the band has become.
Ok, you have to understand that I'm a guy who has one or two KISS CD's in my collection. I'm the first to be critical of KISS, and probably the last to give them credit. The two KISS recordings I have are "Creatures of the Night" and the other one being one of their greatest hits compilations (they have too many of those anyway). So this review is from a guy who is a lover of music with loud distorted guitars, but not a KISS fan at all. As a matter of fact where I have never hated them I have for the most part considered them to be one of the most over rated bands of all time. So me giving this CD 4 stars is saying something.
Monster is actually a very well put together CD. If your a KISS fan you should love this album!!!! If your a guy like me that could do without them you should still give this a listen. I broke down and gave this a shot after listening to samples on Amazon, and with the MP3 price for the album being $3.99 over this weekend it was worth a roll of the dice (sometimes you get a dud and sometimes you get a gem but for $3.99 it was well worth the gamble). I have to say WOW! This is actually a well written album for this genre, and it doesn't have any songs that I consider unpalatable (for the first time I didn't come across one song where I thought, "Why would you even release that"). Remember I'm about as far away from being a KISS fan as you can get without despising their music. I don't consider this CD ground breaking for in the year 2012 (like many other KISS recordings are considered), but I have to say I can listen to this CD all the way through. Something I have never been able to do with ANY other KISS album. I have always respected the musicians Paul and Gene have surrounded themselves with but have usually walked away disappointed with the over all result. Not so with Monster. It sounds like KISS but for the first time I'm not disappointed with the with most of the song writing. While I've usually only liked a song or two here and there by KISS I actually think these songs are better within the landscape of the compilation than they are outside of it. Which is to say the flow of the album makes the songs better than they would be by themselves.
Have I given 4 stars to albums I like much better than Monster? Yes, I can honestly say I like this album without being totally in love with it, but am also trying to be fair to the band. I can't give it 5 stars because where there are no bad songs in my opinion I can't say there are any groundbreaking ones either. So I'm trying to give a band I don't normally care for their just credit here. For a record that is good, fun to listen to, and just rock n' roll this album succeeds. Good job KISS, this album should make most of your fans happy, and should earn you new fans as well. Solid.