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Review: KISS unleashes ferociously fun 'Monster'

October 08, 2012|By Randall Roberts
  • KISS' "Monster"
KISS' "Monster" (UMe )

In the same way it's hard to criticize a mutt for eating scraps off the floor, slobbering or getting lusty on a random person's leg, who's to begrudge KISS releasing another record about thunder, sex, lightning, outcasts, hell, rock 'n' roll, thunder and sex? It's what established Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and the two other guys who aren't Ace Frehley or Peter Criss(for the record, Tommy Thayer on guitar and Eric Singer on drums).

Given this truth, KISS' new album, "Monster," is a fantastic dog: Protective, loyal, fun to be around but ferocious when it needs to be. It's also mostly dumb as a post — but that doesn't mean it isn't awesome.

As the New York-born band has done since its rise among the proto-metal glam rock movement of the early '70s, on "Monster" KISS focuses on primal riffs, heavy bass lines, simple metaphors, trigger-happy solos, Stanley's delirious wail and Simmons' gruff bark. It's monosyllabic music to sing along to, with drum fills perfect for air-rolls and double-kick foot stomps. It's way better than the last Darkness record and stomps the hell out of Radiohead and/or Muse-like pomposity.

"Hell or Hallelujah," the first single, sounds like a Motorhead rip off — in a good way, filled as it is with a rolling momentum worthy of a band with the experience of 19 earlier studio albums in its arsenal. "Outta This World" features the couplet, "You and me we're like TNT/Light the fuse that's inside me," with no irony whatsoever. The first singer/songwriter to transform the insta-classic outsider anthem "Freak" into a cover for a new generation wins a gold star (and probably Simmons' eternal contempt). Ryan Adams?

In fact, were "Monster" released not by a star-man and a demon whose 40 years in the rock business is peppered with ridiculousness — reality shows, close-minded Simmons rants, hilarious concept albums, gluttonous live albums, microbeers and everything else (insert ridiculous KISS related product here) — this record might touch an audience beyond the band's usual fan base. But these creatures are uninterested in irony. They've got business to tend to.

"Monster"

KISS

(Universal Music)

Three stars

 

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