Genre: Heavy Metal, Hard rock
Next year, KISS will celebrate their 40th birthday. This year, they have released their 20th studio album, 3 years after Sonic Boom, which was released 11 years after Psycho Circus.
It is impossible to ignore the contributions KISS made to the history of (hard) rock music, but I was not too impressed by a live show they gave at Graspop a few years ago – a show that bored me to the point I walked out on them. With that mindset, I listened to Monster. To my surprise, this album rocks. It just rocks.
On Monster, KISS have created an album heavier than Sonic Boom, with reference to their earliest work, yet using slick and modern production. Even though their style of music sounds outdated and could have come straight from the late 70s, it results in a great hard rock album.
While some bands that have long careers have tried to add more modern elements into their sound, KISS have gone back to basics and are doing what they are good at on this album: writing songs that rock – without much sophistication or unnecessary decoration. Sold guitar riffs, steady drums and rocking vocals are the main ingredients for this album. A negative point here is that the song structures and tempo are not much varied – you need to like the genre to keep your attention to the entire record.
The opening track is the first single of the album “Hell or Hallelujah” shows that KISS know how to make a great hard rock song. This track has all it takes to become a hard rock classic that fans and party folks alike can shout at the top of their lungs. After “Wall of Sound”, with its Guns 'n Roses feel to it, the album rolls on to the weaker “Freak”.
“Back To The Stone Age” is right in your face: it starts with a pumping guitar line and a scream, and you know you're in for a hell of a song. With a clear AC/DC feel to it, this track is one of the highlights of the album. After “Shout Mercy” with its 80s hints follows “Long Way Down”.
“Eat Your Heart Out” combines a killer riff and a good variety in the vocals, and it sounds like the band were enjoying themselves recording this track. “The Devil is Me”, “Outta This World” make KISS sound a bit like a one-trick pony, but then they strike again with their catchy “All For The Love Of Rock & Roll”.
“Take Me Down Below” could as well have been a Lordi song, and doesn't groove that well. The album ends with “Last Chance”, and it is indeed the cherry on the sundae or the fireworks at the end of a party, with a noticeable guitar solo and mean machine vibe to it.
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