Kiss - Monster

Kiss really pleased fans and silenced their critics, with 2009’s “Sonic Boom”. Not wanting to change a winning formula, they are returning some three years later, with another 12 slabs (or 13 - if you get it online) of their patented brand of melodic heavy rock!
“Monster”! What a bizarre choice of a title - It comes as a surprise that Gene didn’t work up a sponsorship deal with the beverages company to tie in with the album too. A lot of “big words” from the band’s mouthpieces followed and an even larger and totally piggy-bank breaking priced, Monster, “oversized” coffee-table book came out as well to tie in with the release of the album.
All that’s fine and dandy and sort of expected of Kiss. They’re always gonna be big and grandiose, a Rock n’ Roll circus on a seemingly endless parade with confetti canons - blasting out, and multi colored flashing lights inducing Euphoria, but how do the songs fare?!
That’s a subject that will certainly raise a lot of discussions among fans, over the world, but I am afraid there isn’t a straight answer, about that. Well, to these ears, the band’s still largely revisiting it’s 70s style for a number of tracks with slightly mixed results. While the songs are not bad and the flow and duration of the album, make certain that it doesn’t tire, there are maybe a few too many nods to the past and not as many and as catchy choruses as there should have been to allow the band to follow the “Boom” with a “Bang”!
One other thing worth pointing out is production, which is lush (and supposedly all analogue – should sound great on vinyl!) and was done by P.Stanley along with Greg Collins, just like before.
The cover on the other hand, following a falling out, the band had with some well-known illustrator over a proposed “painted” cover, features a band shot and is quite generic, all things considered.
On to the songs though!
“Hell or Hallelujah” is an energetic opener, with Stanley assuming the vocals and has a great build, and all the Kiss trademark mannerisms, but it’s got one of those choruses, that’s good, but not great! Still it’s one of the better tracks!
“Wall of Sound” has a nice groove, but its chorus is sort of intertwined with its groovy melody. The solos not too bad, and Gene sounds like he means it, but I guess I like the groove more than the song itself.
“Freak” finds the Starchild, again behind the mic, and here the song forays a bit more into the 80s, stlye KISS. It’s interesting, but, again, the chorus, is not, that good. It’s more of a big bridge that ends up in a rather pointless repetition of the word. Ugh!
“Back to the Stone Age” has the Demon, assuming mic duties again and I had to sort of, double check that the band wasn’t covering themselves! It’s a rather decent tune, but it retreads territory that the band has conquered years ago, too closely for comfort.
The Stanley Sung “Shout Mercy” is a definite improvement, setting the controls back to the early days of the band, but sounding genuinely as “Rock N’ Roll” should. One of the better songs.
Stanley also retains the reigns for “Long Way Down” another rough, classic sounding tune, that’s a lot meaner and quite not euphoric at all.
It gives way, to “Eat Your Heart Out” another Gene tune, that recalls the better, days of Kiss with ease. It’s classic, dirty, suggestive, you know what I mean …
“The Devil Is Me” tries to be a Gene, anthem, a sorta, new “God of Thunder”, and while it has the right bass groove and everything and the right atmosphere, I suppose it takes quite a few spins to sink in, so.... yeah, it's good, but not DAMN good! I suppose though, it’s better the devil you know...
Thayer is assuming his Space-Ace duties, in “Outta This World”, taking us “high”, with a pretty nice tune, that mixes the 70s and 80s styles of the band, quite effortlessly. He sounds close to Gene and who knows if there isn’t a little background vocal there... by the Demon... It’s a winner though!
“All For The Love Of Rock N’ Roll” sees Eric Singer assuming vocal duties, and it’s one of those carefree - 70s styled ballads, about following your dream and actually realizing it! It’s pretty good and works well! (Hey had, Gene written this, it would have been titled all for the love of money!)
“Take me Down Below” is a Gene/Paul co-sung, tune and it’s a nice rocker, that sort of recounts tales of lust and debauchery, in planes, ships, elevators and other such places... “Love in an Elevator” it ain’t and possibly trying to reenact any of these, naughty scenarios would most likely result in a sexual harassment lawsuit, and not her in a bathing suit, but heck - what the hell's life if you don’t take a few chances!
“Last Chance” is a sorta – normal show “closer” and it closes the album too. It’s an up-beat, gonzo, shout it out-along with us, type of song, that’s guaranteed to get people dancing… ok makes sense...
Phew... well, “Monster” is not all that bad, and is definitely a grower, but it does not seem to be something that GREAT either! The “Boom” wasn’t followed by the loudest “Bang” possible... Now let’s just hope there’s not a “Crash” down the line then...
PS: The i-tunes and Best Buy versions feature a bonus track each and there’s also supposed to be a 3D cover variation and a vinyl coming out.