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The release of Monster celebrates the 20th studio album, released this month, by the legendary rock group Kiss. After 40 years of music and 100 million records sold worldwide, the band has nothing to prove to anyone but to themselves.
The 2009 release of Sonic Boom was the first studio album from Kiss since 1998’s Psycho Circus. Although it was a very good album, I didn’t think it captured all of the magic that the previous albums had.
With Monster, the whole essence of Kiss is captured. After one or two listens, it becomes an instant classic. The album opens with “Hell or Hallelujah,” another classic Paul Stanley opener, which we have grown accustomed to seeing over the years.
Following this is quite possibly Gene’s best song in years, “Wall Of Sound.” In the 70s, there was always competition between Paul’s and Gene’s songs, and here you start to feel that again. I believe this is what makes the album so strong.
Since the self-titled debut album in 1974, its always been guaranteed that Paul was going to bring everything he had to the table. This was not always the case with Gene. After getting sucked into Hollywood for the better part of the 80s, he was almost nonexistent on the Kiss albums. On Monster, you hear some of Genes best stuff like “Back to the Stone Age,” “The Devil is me,” and the sleazy but wonderful “Take me down Below,” with which he shares vocals with Paul.
That is not taking anything away from Paul. His songs are nothing short of brilliant on the album. His second swing at lead vocals comes on the third track “Freak,” which is my favorite song on the album and quite possibly one of my favorite Kiss songs period.
“Shout Mercy,” “Long way Down,” and the final song on the album “Last Chance,” are the songs in which Paul leads the way.
Another part of capturing the essence of the original Kiss is to have all four members share lead vocals, which they do on Monster.
Lead guitarist Tommy Thayer takes his crack on lead vocals in the classic rock tune “Outta This World,” which makes you want to start it over the second it is finished. Drummer Eric Singer gets his chance on the grooving 70s style rocker “All for the love of Rock and Roll,” a great song in which he sings his heart out.
Being a huge Kiss fan, knowing their entire catalogue and being critical of the stuff I don’t enjoy, I will tell you that this album will leave you speechless.
I give Monster an incredible 5/5 for pulse-pounding hard rock from start to finish.