Album Review: Kiss – Monster [Universal Music Group; 2012]

BY MATTHEW LAW

The veteran hard rockers return with what is their 20th studio album. Since 1979 the boys have received criticism from fans and critics for their obscure genre choices, almost constant line-up changes, and complacent nature when it comes to song quality. However, since 2009 with the release of Sonic Boom, this four piece definitely seem to be back on track.

          Monster kicks ass. It combines the catchy riffs of Destroyer with the power vocals of Creatures of the Night to produce a sound that transports the listener straight back to the bands glory days in the seventies. In “Wall Of Sound” and “Hell or Hallelujah” the guitar is truly amazing. Tommy Thayer rivals Ace Frehley with his technical ability, and produces a high quality of guitar work that is really needed if the guys are trying to get back to their roots of classic hard rock. The singing is great too. I'm not going to lie, the scream of The Starchild and the growl of The Demon aren't as powerful as they used to be, but Stanley and Simmons still get the job done. The great thing about the vocals and the lyrics is that there is a strong sense that hard work and graft have been put in. Before Sonic Boom it really felt like KISS didn't care, and that it was all about just getting something released so that the dollars would fly in, but Monster isn't like that. It has been crafted slowly and carefully, and the end result is an extremely engaging album that will make you understand why KISS are considered gods of rock n roll.

There are issues though. The main one being, what I like to call, “Chuck Berry laziness”. This is when a band write an amazing guitar riff, and because it is so good it can be seen throughout many tracks on their album. I mean, when you listen to “The Devil Is Me” and then “Outta This World“, “Outta This World” just sounds like a funkier version of “The Devil is Me”, with both songs also having strong similarities to “Wall of Sound”. Drumming will always be an issue for KISS. Trying to criticise it is like milking a dead cow because it really never seems to reach the high standard set by the late Eric Carr. Although, listeners should just count their blessings that Peter Criss isn't playing on the album because, frankly, having a blind arthritic hyena would be a step up from having him back.

Monster is fantastic. It is an album that KISS fans will truly love, as it has been made with them in mind, but will also cater for fans of seventies rock, alternative rock, or metal, that maybe have never ventured into the weird and wonderful world that is KISS.

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