Universal, 2012

REVIEW BY: Paul Hanson


With this release, KISS reaches the twenty-album mark in their storied history with a better effort than its predecessor Sonic Boom. It’s more straight-ahead in its material. I listened to the first 10 seconds of each song of Sonic Boom, then the first 10 seconds of each song on this release and hands down, Monster has more attitude and better song beginnings which ultimately lead to tighter song structures. When I listened to the entire release, I realized KISS has improved as a band, most noticeably with guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer contributing to the music. I didn’t care for Sonic Boom as I felt the material was weak. I hated Psycho Circus even more.

And so, I was pleasantly surprised when I analyzed this release and found that for three reasons, this is a joy to listen to. Why this is a good release is three-fold. First, bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons sounds particularly inspired during “Back To The Stone Age.” There’s urgency in the chorus when he sings in his growly tone, “I’m going back to the stone age / back to where I belong.” After 20 releases, it’s pretty much a given that a song sung by Simmons means that the drummer – whether it is original drummer Peter Criss, his replacement, the late Eric Carr, or current drummer Eric Singer – gets a workout. I’m touting this song as my favorite. Another song Simmons sings lead on is “The Devil Is Me.” It took 20 albums, but Simmons seems to be confronting all his critics of him dressed up as the demon.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Number two: guitarist/vocalist Paul Stanley can still write a hooky chorus as he does with “Shout Mercy.” He has the swagger in his vocal delivery, much in the same vein as when he sang, “C’mon and love me” way back in the ‘70s. I also appreciated his delivery during the current single “Hell Or Hallelujah” when he sings, “One more time” as the song is winding down. I felt like there was a conscious effort to visualize the song on stage during the recording process.

Number three is kind of obvious, but KISS has returned to a model of their ‘70s releases when the vocal duties would be shared with original guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss on occasion. On this release, guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer each take lead duties on a song. Their songs are not filler and add to the overall impact of the release. I also found myself smiling during “All For The Love Of Rock And Roll.” I could imagine the crowd going nuts during the song.

Monster passes the test. It is going to get a lot of publicity. Please, believe the hype. And not because their recent performance on Late Night With David Letterman the night after this was released was rocking, which it was. I see this release as having a lasting impact. I have no idea if they will ever record a follow-up to this release. I would be in the camp that would say, “Stop. You are going out on top.”

Rating: A

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© 2012 Paul Hanson and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Universal, and is used for informational purposes only.