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Articles Home » 1997 Articles » Kiss - 1997 Carnival Of Souls - The Final Sessions
Kiss - 1997 Carnival Of Souls - The Final Sessions

ALBUM: Carnival Of Souls - The Final Sessions
LABEL: Mercury
SERIAL: 314 536 323-2
YEAR: 1997


LINEUP: Paul Stanley - vocals, guitar * Gene Simmons - vocals, bass * Bruce Kulick - vocals, guitar * Eric Singer - drums

TRACK LISTING: 01 Hate * 02 Rain * 03 Master And Slave * 04 Childhood's End * 05 I Will Be There * 06 Jungle * 07 In My Head * 08 It Never Goes Away * 09 Seduction Of The Innocent * 10 I Confess * 11 In The Mirror * 12 I Walk Alone


This article has been banging around for a good couple of months, actually as far back as April. More exciting albums have got in the way before I managed to finish this one. So with a lot of perseverance and with the new album 'Monster' being released a couple of weeks ago, gave me the right incentive to complete and in political terms maybe at least appear unnoticed, especially as the debate still runs on the merits or disillusionment on the latest release. It's funny if you think 'Monster' is poor (incidentally I quite like it) then take a listen to this album. A case maybe that it wasn't always good in the olden days. It's so easy while discussing your favourite album by a particular artist but inevitably the conversation always turns to the worst album (must be a British trait), maybe with Kiss it's 'Revenge', 'Unmasked', 'The Elder' and one or two of the hair themed ones (not my view I might add), but would 'Carnival Of Souls' be mentioned? Maybe because we are all so broadminded and like a challenge this may go unmentioned or maybe some don't even consider this to be a proper Kiss album or worse still maybe don't even acknowledge its existence. Look, it clearly displays the Kiss logo, so its fair game for assassination, sorry a critical and intelligent (steady) debate. As Walter Cronkite, the famous American broadcaster once said 'never do anything you are not happy to see on the front of the New York Times'. In my own mind, it was released at a time when there were other priorities: having children, college, lack of money, and I innocently didn't even acknowledge its release, which is so at odds with the present time as we all seem to wait with bated breath for an impending Kiss album or similar major artists. Yes, maybe it was in the back on my mind and it was so far back in the depths of my collection it rarely saw the light of day, so I am considering this with a fresh mind. What was the mind-set before this album for Kiss? maybe boredom, a chance to reinvent themselves for the umpteenth time? Trying something different, jumping on a bandwagon, Kiss? surely not. Now there is nothing wrong in trying something different, I understand knitting is quite a relaxing pastime but that doesn't mean to say I am going to start wearing jumpers or take up needles in anger. It is obvious that this is grunge inspired, but even at the time of release 1997, it had already missed that boat, look 'Mad Season' hit the shelves in 1995, and although this was probably recorded at an earlier date, someone must have lost their nerve and the release date was put back. Yep the G word may be a dirty work, but I was always appreciable of the works of Layne Stanley and Stone Temple Pilots.

The Songs
I wonder how many Kiss albums open with Gene Simmons behind the mic, he does with 'Hate', the feedback comes creeping out, cor that's alternative! It could well be as far away from Kiss as you could imagine, heavy, brutal. But any good? Well it seems to depend on my mood.

Well heavy for the sake of it?, quite possibly, actually Gene is a lot more convincing than Paul, especially on 'Rain', Mr Stanley is like a fish out of water, parts of the tune seem to have oxygen, but most times he seems to be sucking in air, and becomes more of a tug boat than a speed boat.

'Master And Slave', is basically a recycled old Metallica riff, yes sometimes the music really impresses but the vocal flavour just doesn't feel comfortable. Quite telling on this song is that one of Paul's lyrics, something like 'I don't know what to say', sums it up really.

Lyrically 'Childhood's End' does come across quite soppy, and we find them trying to inject some Stone Temple Pilots melody, mildly successful, but after the pounding of the first trio, it's quite refreshing, with a tune you can retrace.

This change continues with 'I Will Be There' and Stanley finally sounds more comfortable with a Zeppelin vibe appearing, a nice little tune, rarely heard.

Next up is a Kiss tribute to Red Hot Chilli Peppers with 'Jungle', we'll stick with it as it contains a very good Stanley chorus; restrained power on the Paul front seems to reap dividends.

Although just as things were looking up, they seem to lose sight of quality, like with 'In My Head' and 'It Never Goes Away', they just drag, and a find little of note to express an opinion on, they are just really bad, any takers for Kiss doing Candlemass? No thought not.

I'm not seduced either by 'Seduction Of The Innocent', they probably performed this sitting on a carpet, seem to be trying to hypnotize the listener, 'you will enjoy this album', never believed in all that mumble jumble.

By this time, it does seem to be the equivalent to an ultra-marathon, or maybe the musical soundtrack to the Marathon Des Sables, so well done for getting this far, because whether it's the heat or lack of fluids it all gets a little strange. 'I Confess' (co-written with Tamplin? Ken?.. not sure) sounds like Part 2 of 'The Elder', mixing Simmons and Stanley and orchestral styling which is very interesting to say the least, on the whole it is quite good, hey I might even play it again, 'The Elder' connection is uncanny.

The final offerings don't really change my view on the album, one being 'I Walk Alone', while more melodic, I am afraid that the amount of lactic acid that has built up over the last 60 minutes means it is just a step too far for me.

In Summary
This album review was a struggle from start to finish, lack of inspiration, desperation, plain boredom but the odd moment of enlightenment. Those thoughts are probably a good explanation of this era of music this album was portraying. Never going to be the case of defending the indefensible, but I am still none the wiser why this album took place and where it stands in the history of Kiss. Would you honestly spend the time to play this again? One word can help explain it for me, this being...'Grim'; in fact this doesn't just relate to the brothers Grimm, but all their current living relatives and ancestors. Definitely the black sheep of the Kiss family, although I will give them credit for going beyond the boundaries of routine. Just like the famous Carlsberg beer strap line, Kiss don't do bad albums, but if they did, they would probably be the worst albums in the world. So would this strap line be used in the marketing campaign of this album? Probably.

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#1 | dangerzone on October 21 2012 14:52:32
I've always liked this album and it remains one of my favorites from the band. I remember getting a bootleg copy of it and playing it non-stop back in 96 I think. What impressed me was the new-found heaviness which was infinitely better than the forced 'Revenge.' I'd take this over 'Monster' too. By the way 'I Confess' was written with Ken Tamplin. Simmons explained it in the Kiss biography from some years back.
#2 | sabace on October 21 2012 21:22:33
This lp for me was a big mistake! Although the track JUNGLE is superb! AS an an lp it's not that bad but it's
not KISS
#3 | englandashes on October 21 2012 23:48:07
Thank you for confirming the Ken Tamplin connection dangerzone, much appreciated, does seem an odd couple, did Gene Simmons provide any reason behind the partnership?, cos I feel 'I Confess' is one of the better tracks off the album.
#4 | AOR Lee on October 31 2012 04:36:56
Dire stuff, this album drains the life out of me. My worst Kiss album by a distance. Much prefer the late 70's and 80's material, lots of AOR and melodic hard rock going on there
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