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Articles Home » 2012 Articles » Kiss - 2012 Monster
Kiss - 2012 Monster

ALBUM: Monster
LABEL: Universal
SERIAL: 0060253717090
YEAR: 2012


LINEUP: Paul Stanley - guitar, vocals * Tommy Thayer - guitar, vocals * Gene Simmons - bass, vocals * Eric Singer - drums, vocals

TRACK LISTING: 01 Hell Or Hallelujah * 02 Wall Of Sound * 03 Freak * 04 Back To The Stone Age * 05 Shout Mercy * 06 Long Way Down * 07 Eat Your Heart Out * 08 The Devil Is Me * 09 Outta This World * 10 All For The Love Of Rock & Roll * 11 Take Me Down Below * 12 Last Chance * 13 Right Here Right Now



Inevitably before the release of any new Kiss studio album, both Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley will declare it to be a return to the raw sound of the bands early albums in the 70's. 2009's 'Sonic Boom' was no exception, although that album was more rooted in the bands melodic 80's years, which was better than anything they'd created since the 80's itself. But for Simmons and Stanley the mantle they seek to emulate is 'Revenge' apparently, not one of the better Kiss albums in my opinion. Therefore the result is 'Monster,' the second album with Thayer and Singer, both still ridiculously wearing makeup that wasn't created for them. I suppose we should be grateful for new Kiss material some 40 plus years into their career, but after listening repeatedly to 'Monster' I keep asking myself is this really any good?

The Songs
Released way back in July, 'Hell Or Hallelujah' was the perfect choice for a single. Fast and determined this taster gave me high hopes for the album. It's almost a throwback to the 'Animalize' era and suits the bands current style, not the forced 70's direction. That it's the only song with a semblance of speed is somewhat off-putting. Simmons follows up with 'Wall Of Sound' which again has melodic traces of the 80's, this time his material from 'Lick It Up'. It's straightforward hard rock with a simple hook, but is hardly breathless in execution. Described in the press releases as 'Who like' the Stanley fronted 'Freak' is nothing of the sort, but is a quality track that seeps into the consciousness after several hearings. This sounds far more palatable. At barely over three minutes 'Back To The Stone Age' is another harmless Simmons anthem, with a massive chorus designed to work in a live capacity, but will probably never see the light of day in that area. It's eminently likeable but the lingering thought that it's overly contrived continues to harbor.. 'Shout Mercy' sees Stanley sounding strained to the backdrop of Thayer recycling Ace Frehley riffs ('Deuce' anyone?). This one is extremely bland, just a tired rehash of ideas heard many times. Stanley is heard again on 'Long Way Down' which has more of a 'Carnival of Souls' melody and sounds more natural at this point than the 70's retread attempts. This is by far one of the best songs on the album.

Simmons is back at it again on 'Eat Your Heart Out' with another short anthem in his best sex-laden lyric tradition. The problem again is the melody. As with 'Never Enough' from 'Sonic Boom', it sounds like 'Nothing But A Good Time' by Poison at odd moments, which for consecutive albums is hardly appealing. Much better from Simmons is 'The Devil Is Me', with more of a darker feel to it, not to mention heavier. The band sounds better when not regurgitating what is deemed to be 'classic' Kiss e.g. 1970's era, although Thayer's guitar work here is pure Frehley. Both Thayer and Singer get their token solo tracks, with Thayer's 'Outta This World' containing some bombastic late 80's backing vocals, although he himself sounds like Simmons while singing. Singer once again gets to do his Peter Criss vocal imitation on 'All For The Love Of Rock & Roll' which is a clear attempt at evoking classic Criss tracks with the smoky bar room atmosphere in full effect. This is the aspect which doesn't allow me to fully accept this song. It's a good rocker, but the imitation is unnecessary. 'Take Me Down Below' opens with the band copping AC/DC's 'Dirty Deeds' riff and develops into another routine romp, with Simmons and Stanley sharing vocals. This is one song too much, utterly dull and reminiscent of the mess that was 'Hot In The Shade'. Again Thayer is busy trying to be Frehley, which is quite tiresome by this point. Nothing distinguishes 'Last Chance' by the same token, Stanley on vocals with what sounds like the guitar solo to 'Strutter' being thrown in for good measure.

In Summary
It's hard for me to recall when I've listened to an album as much as I have this one before the actual review. Upon my first playing I struggled to hear anything truly memorable. That's the difference between this and 'Sonic Boom'. Where the latter had an immediacy that made it a wonderful outing, this proved the exact opposite, taking repeated attempts for me to come to grips with it. It's easy to see Kiss were striving to create a gritty hard rock classic, but maybe they tried too hard. It's not a complete loss and at least four of these songs are Kiss at their best. The rest just haven't etched into my brain like I expect most Kiss songs to and believe me I've tried. A credible effort perhaps, but I'd have difficulty saying this is anything but average.

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#1 | sabace on October 15 2012 11:52:35
Sorry Dangerzone but in my opinion you are way off the mark! . This is not only a excellent KISS lp but also just a classic rock lp . Its full of great tunes, playing and the production is excellent, way better than sonic boom . Freak is the only track I have reservations about . Drums are awesome as is gene's bass and Tommy'goodones playing is his best ever
#2 | Carl Noonan on October 15 2012 19:39:59
I don't see how you can like Kiss and not like this album. Easily the best thing they've done for years.
#3 | gdazegod on October 15 2012 22:16:25
Well Carl, it has happened before. Just look at Journey. By default, every AORster is supposed to adore that band, but their last album was crap, let's be honest. As for Kiss, their discography has hardly been consistent over the years. Up and down, ebb/flow, bio rhythm etc etc. So we can cut them some slack on occasion. I haven't heard this album yet, so can't pass my own personal opinion.
#4 | Carl Noonan on October 15 2012 22:40:02
Eclipse crap ? Not for me it wasn't. there was room for improvement but overall I loved that album.
#5 | gdazegod on October 15 2012 22:55:05
Well if it's any consolation, I don't think Journey could do any worse. From my perspective, in their entire career, that would be their nadir. I haven't played the album since. It's prob similar to Toto's 'Falling In Between'.. an album that polarised many. I'm sure Kiss' Monster will do likewise.
#6 | Eric on October 15 2012 22:59:27
I like/love the early KISS albums, but the 80's and 90's I couldn't give a hoot about. I don't know anyone who likes everything KISS has done and the same for Journey. From what I've heard so far, a couple good tunes but it's certainly not thier best by a long shot...
#7 | george_the_jack on October 15 2012 23:06:33
Agree with George. 'Eclipse' was rather boring and uninspirational to say the least. Surely, it was way lower in the climax if compared with 'Revelation'. After all this intriguing debate, I have to give 'Monster' a spin as soon as possible I reckon... lol
#8 | dangerzone on October 16 2012 00:31:21
The notion of liking every album by any band you like is ludicrous. For me Kiss have only made two real duds, 'Hot in the Shade' and 'Revenge,' and 'Monster' is better than those two. That said it's not doing anything for me as outlined in my review. Like George said about 'Eclipse' I can't see myself returning to it. I just have that feeling.
#9 | Carl Noonan on October 16 2012 08:18:02
Dangerzone, I was talking generally, i didn't mean you should like every album by a band but this is not a departure of any kind like say The Elder, it's just typical anthemic melodic hard rock, that's all, typical Kiss.
#10 | sabace on October 16 2012 12:42:53
Its simple for me, when I purchase a Kiss lp I expect no frills rock n roll with melody and as raw as possible! this perfectly describes this lp - so I like it! what other people expect from a kiss lp is their prerogative!
#11 | Geir on October 20 2012 20:09:50
I've only played 'Monster' twice so far, but I find that it sounds promising. 'Sonic Boom' was a very pleasant surprise to me back when it came out and to these ears, 'Monster' maintains some of that positive, classic vibe. ...Curious to see what further listens will reveal!

On a footnote: I'd rank 'Unmasked' among my favourite Kiss albums. This - and the above thread - just goes to show how taste in music really and truly is a personal thing! Thumbs Up
#12 | sabace on October 25 2012 12:05:32
still loving the lp - it gets better and better!
#13 | AOR Lee on November 09 2012 05:33:08
Having finally bought this and listened 4 times, I agree with Alun on several points. Some tracks sound forced and contrived while others are a pleasant surprise. I actually enjoyed Take Me Down Below and Shout Mercy, but I admit the album as a whole is very hard work to get into. Time will tell if it's worth all the effort!
#14 | sabace on November 09 2012 18:31:36
9/10 Classic rock magazine - Dave Ling
#15 | jeffrey343 on November 09 2012 18:58:47
I was really excited about this one, especially since I loved "Sonic Boom" (still #1 for 2009 and #2 for the decade). And "Hell Or Hallelujah" stoked the fires even more. (Interestingly, I never was that big of a KISS fan back in the day.) Well, the first listen was a letdown - other than HoH, nothing that really grabbed me like the best tracks of Sonic Boom. Not at all bad, but not "wow". If I didn't really want to like it (like if was some random new band), I probably would have grabbed that one tune and ignored the rest of it. But I kept playing it, and I'm glad to say it has grown on me.

I'm not sure I'll ever like this as much as "Sonic Boom" though. SB had four killer tracks and a bunch of good ones. I'm still looking for the second killer on this one, although a few are trying to get there (like "Shout Mercy" and "Outta This World" and "All For The Love Of Rock and Roll" particularly). But if I were to take the songs from both albums and rank them, 4 of the top 5 would definitely come from "Sonic Boom". I do think the rest would be clustered pretty close together, though.

The production for this one is interesting. They did a great job of getting a raw sound that is not too rough. To me, that's a neat trick, as a raw sound usually sounds very unprofessional to me. But this definitely sounds professional. I'm just not sure I like it compared to the less raw sound of "Sonic Boom". But good for them for trying, and in spite of my opinion, they pulled it off admirably.

Does anyone else think that maybe Thayer and Singer ought to get lead vocals a few more songs? I know they're not the primary voices, but I really like their tracks on both albums. I'm not sure how they'd sound on solo albums, but they sound great singing typical KISS songs.
#16 | AOR Lee on November 10 2012 04:29:48
More tracks are growing on me as well, mostly the Paul tracks and the Tommy / Eric tracks that Jeff mentioned. They pull their vocal identities off admirably and sound 'in character' with the Ace and Peter personas, without sounding like flatout copies. Both are capable singers (ouch) and I would not be against 2 songs each ... as long as Paul does not sacrifice any tracks as a result. Less Gene would result in a stronger album vocally.

I still agree with Alun that Sonic Boom was more immediate but Monster is certainly not a purchase to regret
#17 | dangerzone on January 08 2013 20:13:39
I saw a story with Thayer hocking a new Les Paul guitar called the 'Spaceman.' It never used to bother me with Thayer and Singer using Criss' and Frehley's makeup, but that's taking the piss surely. For some reason it's begun to annoy me seeing them flagrantly ripping off their styles as they do on this album.
#18 | AOR Lee on January 09 2013 04:59:46
Agree with you Alun, that's way over the line. As Ace once said, Tommy always wanted to play in a Kiss tribute band and now he does! (Paraphrased but you get the jist).

As hard as I try with this album. it never seems to rise above 'ok'. Crazy Nights for me thanks keyboards
#19 | gdazegod on January 09 2013 13:17:34
I really should get this, just to see what all the fuss is about.. lol!
#20 | dangerzone on January 09 2013 15:12:05
I'd be curious to see what you think mate. I've long since abandoned it.
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