The legendary glam rock band KISS released their 20th album, “Monster” last month. This is the follow up album to the band’s 2009 release “Sonic Boom,” which was put out by this current line-up consisting of original members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, along with drummer Eric Singer and lead guitarist Tommy Thayer. Singer has been in KISS off and on from 1992-1996, and rejoined the band (when original drummer Peter Criss left during the Farewell Tour due to a contract dispute) in early 2001.
Tommy Thayer, who has been associated with the band as an assistant when his former band, Black N Blue didn’t work out, wound up playing in the band (Thayer also played as a Tribute Spaceman in his tribute band Cold Gin.) starting about late 2002 when original KISS Guitarist Ace Frehley left KISS. Eric plays as the “Catman,” and Tommy plays as the “Spaceman.” This is not a popular move amongst some fans, but it should be noted that due to financial problems, Ace and Peter sold their rights to their makeup to Gene and Paul. Therefore, Gene and Paul have the legal rights, etc. That being said, as former Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Bill Cowher used to say, “It is what it is.”
That being said, I absolutely LOVE “Monster.” I can not stop listening to it. I would put it in the FUN category. I find the album enjoyable from beginning to end. There is not one bad song on it. From the opener, “Hell or Hallelujah” to the closing number, ” Last Chance,” KISS has knocked this beauty out of the park.
I will be reviewing the CD track by track, so here we go.
“Hell or Hallelujah” (P.Stanley)
This is the opening song. It is a hard rocking song about just going for what you want in life despite of whatever obstacles are in front of you. When it was released as a single prior to the CD’s release, I just fell in love with the song. It has a very upbeat rhythm which reminds one of the song, “Train Kept A Rollin.'” The vocals by Paul and Gene are awesome, and I love drummer Eric Singer on this tune. Tommy Thayer does some good lead guitar work as well.
“Wall of Sound” (P.Stanley, T.Thayer, G.Simmons)
Now, if there IS a song I like the LEAST on this CD, it is this one. I LIKE it, but the other eleven tracks are much better. Gene Simmons sings this song. The song has a pretty cool swing to it, and the band plays it well, but the song doesn’t really do it for me. I will listen to it though.
“Freak” ( P.Stanley, T.Thayer)
This song took awhile for me to get into, honestly. I just love it. Paul Stanley’s voice is in top form. It is a fun song about being proud of being who you are. This is a rocking tune, and Tommy’s lead work is a highlight of the song.
“Back To The Stone Age” (G.Simmons, T.Thayer, P.Stanley, E.Singer)
This is a fun and lively song sung by Gene Simmons. I mean, who else would sing such a song? The song is pretty self explanatory with it’s chorus, “Back to the stone age. Back where I belong.” Gene sings about how he is a primitive guy, and just wants to be free. I just love this tune. It describes Gene to a “T.”
“Shout Mercy” (P.Stanley, T.Thayer)
This is another great song that showcases Paul’s great vocals. I enjoyed this song. It is a very energetic song with a lot of sexual overtones. It’s a very sexy song. There is good lead guitar work by Thayer, and there is great drumming by Singer featured on this song.
“Long Way Down” (P.Stanley, T.Thayer)
Great song sung by Paul which is a real slow paced song about if you are top of your game, and if you hang with the wrong people, you crash personally to a very low depth. Plenty of athletes have experienced this, and it is a great warning for others.
“Eat Your Heart Out” (G.Simmons)
This is a cool tune. Gene is singing about his favorite activity, sex. However, it is the musicianship that carries the song. I love Tommy’s use of his wah-wah, and one can’t get enough cowbell.
“The Devil Is Me” (P. Stanley, G.Simmons, T.Thayer)
Gene is pretty much describing his character he plays on the stage. Of course, his portrayal of that character is one of the reasons religious fanatics protested the band in the 70’s, and still do to this day.
Regardless, Gene’s vocals are awesome, and the musicianship is terrific. I play this song quite often.
“Outta This World” (T.Thayer)
Well, this is my favorite song from the CD. I love this song so much, that I made it my ringtone. Tommy’s song is amazing. I love his vocals, and the musicianship on this CD. Overall, the song is the best song on the CD. I play the song at least two or three times, and listen to it once a day. That is how good the song is.
I want to add that I am critiquing this album from THIS lineup, and not comparing any of these songs from prior lineups. That being said, if I had to play that card, this song is a really cool homage to both “Shock Me,” and “Rocket Ride,” both written and sung by original KISS guitarist, Ace Frehley in the sense that this song is a PG combination of both. There are elements of both Frehley songs in both the lyrics and the music.
“All For The Love Of Rock & Roll” (P.Stanley)
This song is sung by Eric Singer, who has a real nice voice. This is a nice and easy song, reminiscient of “Mr.Speed,” from the band’s 1976 release, “Rock and Roll Over.” The song is about playing music, and living life because one loves rock and roll. The song is a simple song, but I really enjoy it.
“Take Me Down Below” (P.Stanley, G.Simmons, T.Thayer)
A sexually charged song sung by Gene and Paul. The song is awesome. It has a very sexy rhythm, and of course, the lyrics could be taken two ways, “Take me down below.” “Doesn’t matter where we go.” Boy, do the guys in KISS love using the sexual double entendre.
The last song, “Last Chance” is a hard hitting rocker about going for what you want in life. Great song all around. KISS has always been about going for what you want in life, and has been an inspiration to me in my life, so this is a perfect song to end a really awesome CD.
Overall, I heartily recommend “Monster.” The songs are great, as is the musicianship. Kudos to Gene, Paul, Eric, and Tommy on a job well done.
“Outta This World”
Terri Bey currently blogs for CamelClutchBlog.com about Wrestling, NFL, and other sports/pop culture related subjects. Her work has appeared in BleacherReport and for F4WOnline.com. Terri can be found here at Facebook- http://www.facebook.com/TerriBey and at Twitter- http://www.twitter.com/giopontifanGene Simmons, hard rock, heavy metal, Kiss, Music, Paul Stanley