I’m a pretty huge Kiss fan, the real kiss that is. Ace, Peter, Gene and Paul, the Real Kiss. Although I give Props to the Bruce Kulick years make up free they had very few songs outside of “God Gave Rock and Roll to you” and some of the heavily influenced Bruce Kulick tracks that I liked. Beyond that Rock and Roll over was the last good Kiss record that I purchased. That old school raw 3 chord gang vocal hard rock and roll, they did it and they did it well.
I’ve listed to monster streamed twice over the interwebs and was like wow, this is worth another spin. At $7 bucks on itunes I said sure yeah why not. For my taste this is the best album Kiss has done since 1976. This album has some really good hard rock songs on it, many of them much more than the usual KISS 3 chord “rock and roll” arrangements they’re known for. Paul Stanley produced this album and Clearly let Tommy Thayer out of his cage a bit. On their last release Sonic Boom Thayer played all old Ace Frehley licks through the record. On Monster he doesn’t play all the same Ace Frehley inversions he’s doing his own thing in his arrangements especially the great guitar solos he did on this release.
The songs on this CD are the strongest Kiss have assembled since the 70’s. They’re solid, they rock, they have content and something to say on several tracks which is pretty epic for the band who did Christine Sixteen. Wall of Sound a Gene Simmons track just kicks ass, Great track from a guy who hasn’t written one in a long time. Back to the Stone age another Simmons track sounds like Heavy Metal Mot the Hoople of the new millennium, very hooky very cool a little weak lyrically in the first verse but hell it’s Kiss. Long way down a Paul Stanley track is quintessential Paul Stanley but broken out of that 3 chord rock song cage, the arrangement is sharp especially for a Kiss song. Tommy Thayer plays the shite out of this track with some seriously funk inspired licks and a really beautifully arranged guitar solo that’s simple but really melodic, it’s a top pick for the entire CD for me. Then there’s all for the love of rock and roll vocal by Eric Singer who hit’s it out of the park! Not only does Eric’s voice naturally sound like Peter Criss but the song has a strong R & B feel to it in the vein of Baby Driver and Hooligan from the early years. Written by Paul Stanley I think this track should have been the first single.
Tommy Thayer wrote and sings a song titled Outta This World that I thought was Gene Simmons until I looked at the credits. Genes voice changed noticeably around Love Gun record, his performance on the first 3 albums were really different then all of his later songs. Tommy Thayer really resembles Gene on the first 3 KISS records on this track, it’s uncanny how much he channeled early Gene Simmons. Eric Singer (one of my all time favorite drummers) and Thayer really come into their own on Monster. Although Gene Simmons stated the record was done all analog I don’t buy it. It was edited in Pro Tools or Logic. The guitars are to perfectly synced, the drums sound quantized in a few spots although not to many and the vocals have been pitched corrected. I have no question in my mind it was edited digital no matter how it was recorded. It has a slick Nashville production vibe to it much like Sonic Boom.
I give Monster 4 out of five stars, the best KISS album since 1976 IMO.