The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

KISS - SONIC BOOM
Released October 2009

Kiss's first album in 11 years harkens back to their glory days, not least of all with it's great cover - reminiscent of a modern update of 1976's Rock n' Roll Over, unsurprising since it was created by Michael Doret, the same artist responsible for that mid 70's classic.

 

The album starts strongly with lead single Modern Day Delilah and the first thing you notice are THOSE voices - Stanley more melodic, Simmons full of charisma and verve. Simmons and Stanley have both compared Sonic Boom with their classic 70's albums, and their approach is certainly rejuvenated a thousand fold since their last outing, the confused and disappointing Psycho Circus.

 

The songwriting credits alternate between the erstwhile Demon and Starchild for the first few songs, with bass up high in Russian Roulette as Simmons does what he does best, sneering lecherously.

 

Stand is everything you could ask for in a modern Kiss song - shared vocals, seemingly spontaneous asides, a great band performance, an anthemic chorus and a message of self belief and standing by each other (“Stand by my side and we’ll make it through”). Towards the end they even reference their huge 1999 hit God Gave Rock n Roll To You with a slowed down passage before launching back into that classic chorus.

 

Hot & Cold and Yes I Know (Nobody's Perfect) have Gene in fine voice - his vocals sound better than they have for a long time - and whilst lyrically he sticks with his favourite subjects - sex and himself - these songs have a (long) tongue in cheekiness about them which was missing from a lot of the band's late 80's and 90's work. He may be a self confessed and proud Asshole, but let’s not forget how hugely influential he and his band have been and continue to be.

 

Danger Us sees Stanley turning a fine lyric (“Two parts trouble, double down tough, danger you, danger me, danger us”), and album closer Say Yeah is another song seemingly specifically designed for live crowd participation.



The fact that Sonic Boom sounds like the product of a BAND and not simply Simmons and Stanley calling the shots, makes all the difference here. Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer (guitars and drums respectively) both take the microphone for a song (When Lightning Strikes is Thayer’s vocal contribution, and All For The Glory see Singer erm… singing – and whilst not the best songs on the album, they don’t let the team down either), and put in really good performances throughout. Whilst this sounds like a modern day Kiss, it has a definite 70's feel to it - this actually sounds like a band determined to create the best album they can rather than a group of people trying to wrestle the spotlight from each other, and the difference it makes to the end result is staggering.

 

It’s no coincidence that every major band who has pitched in a truly strong “return to form” album in recent years has done so by revisiting the blueprint of their classic period of success, and Sonic Boom is no exception to that rule, with huge choruses that I can easily picture singing along to live, side by side with classics from 30 years ago. Hell – I can’t WAIT to hear these songs live, I bet they will slot into a classic-studded set easily.

 

Sonic Boom serves up a little bit of everything we love the most about Kiss – overall the feel is a little Rock n’ Roll Over meets Love Gun. There is an arrogant confidence – completely justified – to the material which is reminiscent of Creatures Of The Night or Destroyer and also the hunger of the very early albums. There is even a touch of 80’s cock rock circa Crazy Crazy Nights, and the final brew is a heady one indeed.

 

After a long time away, Sonic Boom is a great return to form - vibrant, exciting, focussed, sonically fantastic, chock full of instant classics, and as close to CLASSIC Kiss as we could have dreamed of hearing in 2009!

 

Shane

 

Despite saying they would never record again, KISS return with their first studio album since 1998`s Psycho Circus. Paul& Gene have stated this is their best album "in thirty years" and "our best since DESTROYER" respectively.

The album starts with the opening single MODERN DAY DELILAH. An excellent opening track with some classic vocals from Paul. Next up is RUSSIAN ROULETTE which has some classic rumbling bass from GENE. Probably the best song he has written since UNHOLY. Track three is NEVER ENOUGH. Parts of this sound like POISONS` NOTHING BUT A GOOD TIME.

 

Next up is YES I KNOW (NOBODY`S PERFECT) which has a LADIES ROOM feel to it. A very bouncy song with a catchy chorus. STAND is a classic KISS feel-good, positive, flag-waving song with a great vocal duel from PAUL & GENE. This will be a definate stage fave - it even has touches of GOD GAVE ROCK N ROLL TO YOU at the end.

 

HOT AND COLD sounds like it could have come from LOVE GUN or ROCK AND ROLL OVER. With the classic line "If it`s too loud, you`re too old", the song also contains a classic KISS sounding guitar solo from TOMMY THAYER.

 

ALL FOR THE GLORY is ERIC SINGERS` vocal debut. Another very up-tempo track, though probably the weakest track on the album.

 

DANGER US is next up. Another rocker of a track which wouldn`t be out of place on a PAUL STANLEY solo album. I`M AN ANIMAL is another excellent GENE song, very ZEPPELINESQUE, it sounds like it could have been on the CREATURES OF THE NIGHT album.

 

WHEN LIGHTNING STRIKES has TOMMY THAYER on lead vocals and is very 70`s in feel. Last up is SAY YEAH. This has a 1978 solo album feel to it, and also has a very sleazy guitar track.

 

The surprising thing about SONIC BOOM Is there are no ballads. I'm not sure about it being KISS' best ever album but it's certainly their best since CREATURES OF THE NIGHT. For a band who have spent the last 10 years as a band playing the same stuff this is a real surprise and an absolute chest thumper of an album.

 

I can`t wait to see and hear some of this live - well worth getting.

 

Steve