For almost four decades, Kiss have been touring and making music. Their new album, Monster, is their 20th studio album and their first album since 2009’s Sonic Boom. In recent years, critics and even fans have criticized for the band choosing to continue instead of calling it a day. Some are not comfortable with the fact that the new members are wearing the make-up of previous members. Nevertheless, Monster is a great album from Kiss. While Sonic Boom was an attempt at capturing the band’s sound from the 1970’s, Monster can be seen as Kiss taking on the music world in the 21st century.
Kiss formed around 1973 by bassist/singer Gene Simmons and guitarist/singer Paul Stanley. Along with guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss, Kiss were one of the most successful rock bands of the 1970’s. In their forty year career, the band has been through several line-up changes, with Simmons and Stanley being the two sole original members. There was even a part of their career from 1983 till 1996 when the band decided to take off their iconic make-up. Kiss currently consists of Simmons (the Demon), Stanley (the Starchild), guitarist Tommy Thayer (since 2002, replacing Frehley and wearing the Spaceman make-up), and drummer Eric Singer (1992-1996, 2000-2002, 2004-present replacing Criss and wearing the Catman make-up).
Monster opens with the strong rocker “Hell or Hallelujah”, which is the lead single for the album. The song has “Detroit Rock City”-like lyrics and great guitar work from Thayer. Stanley’s voice sounds pretty good and that’s saying a lot considering his voice has been shot for the last few years (Stanley had vocal surgery about a year ago so it seems to have helped). This is followed by the stomping beats of “Wall of Sound”, which is the first song sung by Simmons on the album. The song is okay as the lyrics tend to fall on the weak lyrics. Luckily, the same can’t be said for Stanley’s “Freak”. The song is a brilliantly written anthem of sorts. “And I love the clothes I wear/Let them laugh ‘cause I don’t care” sings Stanley. “It’s my cross I’m proud to bear/I’m a freak”. “Back to the Stone Age” might have a corny title but the music sounds like something the MC5 could churn out back in the day.
Thayer and Singer also get to sing on the album. Thayer’s “Outta This World” is probably my least favorite song off the album while Singer’s “All For the Love of Rock N Roll” is slightly better. Other highlights off the album include Simmon’s hard-hitting “The Devil is Me” and “Long Way Down” which might be my favorite song off the album. It’s a Zeppelin-sounding rocker with chugging guitars and great drumming from Singer.
Monster is just simply a great album from Kiss. They did really work hard on this album. Kiss fans will definitely want to check this out (if they haven’t already) but I think people who are fans of the material Kiss came out with in the 1970’s might actually like this album.