Casablanca Records, 1976

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


When Kiss decided to re-form with their original line-up (including guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss) and return to using the kabuki make-up, they dusted off their tour gear from Destroyer... and why not? After all, that's the album that made them superstars. So, why tamper with something successful?

After finally catching people's ears with Alive! and "Rock And Roll All Nite," the hard rock quartet re-focused their energies into the studios on Destroyer, an album that was as varied as it was fomula... and despite a muddy sound (which could just be my cassette), it works well.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Opening with what would become a rock anthem, "Detroit Rock City" is a powerful example of '70s hard rock - one that sounds great today. Anyone who doesn't think much of Gene Simmons as a bassist needs to only listen to the riff he plays in the verses to see how good he was. (So he's not Geddy Lee; he doesn't need to be in this particular vein of hard rock.) This song, simply put, is a classic.

But the real fame from Destroyer came not from the cock-rock attitudes or the head-banging beats. No, it came from a ballad - one sung by the drummer, no less. "Beth" became Kiss's first top ten hit in America, and is a decent enough song detailing the struggles a musician faces when their family life and band life divide them. Criss's singing isn't the greatest, but it does fit the mood of the song well.

Destroyer holds a few other cards up its sleeve, as well. "Great Expectations" is not your traditional Kiss number; it boasts a richer, more orchestrated sound - almost as if they were trying to create an epic with this one. Unfortunately, they don't succeed. This one comes off as being a little too self-indulgent, even for Kiss, and it just doesn't work.

Fortunately, there's a lot of solid rock and roll that holds this album together. "God Of Thunder," featuring Simmons's vocals, seems menacing at first (possibly this is where some narrow-minded fools thought Kiss was Satanic?), but in the end proves to be more show than threat, even in all its bombasity. "Shout It Out Loud" and "Do You Love Me" are decent rockers that have become classics to members of the Kiss Army, while "Flaming Youth" and "Sweet Pain" are two under-rated tracks in my book.

What makes Destroyer work in the end is that the music still sounds as fresh today as it did in 1976. If only the overall sound of this album were better - although the sound might have been improved when it was finally issued on compact disc. (Opinions on this subject are now being welcomed.)

Kiss is still very much a force to be dealt with in the world of rock and roll - and they have Destroyer to thank for that... as do we.

Rating: A-

User Rating: A-



© 1998 Christopher Thelen 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 Casablanca Records, and is used for informational purposes only.