I know the 13 year-old in me is shocked that I was not looking forward to a new album from childhood idols KISS. If Monster was anything like it’s post reunion predecessors, I just couldn’t take it. The band released “Hell Or Hallelujah” as an early single. This was supposed to announce to the doubtful, that the band is back to its’ rockin’ ways. To emphasize it they proudly exclaimed that there were no ballads. Which was curious since the bands biggest hits were ballads. Anyway, back to the first song. Many in the rock world loved how it sounded like old school KISS. And I wholeheartedly agree with them, “Hell Or Hallelujah” does sound like vintage KISS. Unfortunately, it’s because the song sounds “eerily” like “I Stole Your Love”. But since AC/DC and Slayer have been playing the same song for decades so why not KISS? It is a good song after all.
But that is just one song out of an album of 12. While the opener is a good track, my favorite may be the closer “Last Chance. This song truly echoes the classic KISS sound without aping it. “Freak” is another keeper that has some beef to it and would easily fit with Revenge era material. Just like all their other releases, lead vocals are split almost evenly between Stanley and Simmons with Ace and Peter given one each.
Oops, I meant Tommy and Eric.
It is a tad curious that the one song that Tommy sings lead on is “Outta This World”. You don’t think that it’s just a tad coincidental that the guy now wearing the Spaceman makeup writes a song title like that do you? In all fairness it is a good tune despite is “curious” song title. Now, the Eric song is blatant bait and switch on Peter Criss’ legacy. “All For The Love Of Rock N Roll” has a very bluesy soulful sound that was right in the Catman’s wheelhouse. Tacky and not good either.
I want to talk about these two members without delving too far into the makeup controversy. While I’m not a big fan of it, I’m not outraged. Eric is a monster drummer so if that what it takes to keep him in the band I’m cool. Tommy is another matter. He is a very serviceable guitarist but KISS shouldn’t have serviceable guitarists. Put it this way, after Bruce Kulick left KISS he made two terrific albums with Union. Prior to joining KISS Tommy Thayer was in Black N Blue a 3rd tier glam band whose only notoriety was that Gene was their manager and on his own label. Not comparable.
After all is said and done Monster is a very spotty album. Couple good songs and a couple that have you hit fast forward. It is a somewhat success in that it’s a step in the right direction. Compare it to Metallica and Death Magnetic. Not their best effort but gives hope that the band can get back to their past glory.
Final rating, I’d be happy paying…
$14.99-Regularly Priced CD
$9.99-Download from iTunes or Amazon
$5.00-wait for Amazon to have it on sale
$1.00-finding at a flea market, car wash, or pawn shop
$0-Not worth the drive space