In case you haven’t noticed yet, Rockpages.gr is one of those web magazines that has a special liking for KISS… taking this as granted, I think that it’s a huge personal success to be assigned to write the new album review for the band that some coworkers, guess who yourselves, are huge fans!
First of all, as far as KISS are concerned we must put something straight. You either like KISS, or not! You are either a fan, or you don’t care. You are either with them, or against them, there is no standing in the middle for them. They were never the band that would impress with their playing, or the dexterity of any of its make up bearing members. But, they always had the ability to write big hits that stood the test of time, and managed to cross over even to non-rock audiences., and maybe that’s what still makes a lot of their haters upset. The rest is the excesses, and Gene Simmons.
“Monster” had a hard task from the beginning, since it follows “Sonic Boom”, a very good album that ended an 11-year studio album-less silence with the best possible way. It was a simple, direct, and immediate album, totally characteristic of KISS. And that’s where “Monster” comes in, because it might be less catchier(sic!) than “Sonic Boom”, but it’s made from the very same materials: huge riffs, tight rhythm section, great solos (Ace Frehey’s copies). Where it lacks compared to its predecessor is that its songs don’t stick in your brain equally easy and fast. Surely, “Freak”, “All For The Love Of Rock’n’Roll” with Eric Singer singing lead, and “Last Chance” are the highlights. However, there are several more worthwhile moments, like the groove on “Shout Mercy” –the twist on guitar reminds off “Deuce”, or is it just me?-, and Tommy Thayer’s presence, especially with the icing on the cake, “Outta This World” where he is singing lead. The way lead vocals are shared between them is worth noting with Stanley singing on 5 songs, Simmons on 4, both sharing lead vocals on 1, and then there is 1 for Thayer and Singer with one each. Also worth notiving the fact that Simmons sings on the two weakest of the album, “The Devil Is Me”, and “Back To The Stone Age”.
KISS’ success is that on their 24th album they manage to sound like they were releasing their 4th! And that’s a lot of their peers (should) feel jealous about. What they know doing, they do it well. The personas, the high heels, the make-up, taking it off, the comic books, the onstage flames and fireworks, the myths, the rumors, the truth, Simmon’s tongue, “I Was Made For Loving You”, the total failure of “The Elder”, the posing, the drums that take off… that’s some of the ingredients that for 40 years now fuel in multicolor, sometimes, but always impressive way our beloved rock’n’roll.