KISS – Monster [Limited Deluxe Edition]
(2012, Universal Music Enterprises/KISS Records)
1. “Hell or Hallelujah”
2. “Wall of Sound”
4. “Back to the Stone Age”
5. “Shout Mercy”
6. “Long Way Down”
7. “Eat Your Heart Out”
8. “The Devil Is Me”
9. “Outta This World”
10. “All for the Love of Rock & Roll”
11. “Take Me Down Below”
12. “Last Chance”
Paul Stanley – Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Gene Simmons – Lead Vocals, Bass, Backing Vocals
Tommy Thayer – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals
Eric Singer – Drums, Backing Vocals, Lead Vocals
Producer: Paul Stanley & Greg Collins
I’m surprised KISS didn’t use the same business model as they did for Sonic Boom, which was an exclusive U.S. release through Wal-Mart. KISS may be wishing they had the muscle of Wal-Mart behind them again because even though Monster debuted at #3 on the Billboard charts, it only sold about 56,000 copies in its first week compared to Sonic Boom‘s 108,000 copies sold.
Although the album was not released exclusively through Wal-Mart, there is a limited deluxe edition that is exclusive to Wal-Mart. The CD comes with a 64-page booklet (it’s not really magazine-sized) full of photos, facts, features, interviews, lyrics and track-by-track commentary for the new album. I’m not sure if it can be picked up in stores. I got my copy on pre-order from Walmart.com. The CD doesn’t come bundled in its own digipak or even a jewel case. It’s inserted into the inside cover.
KISS is my favorite band so I’m definitely happy they released another new studio album but at times Monster feels a bit like “been there, heard that”. This is a good album but it sounds so familiar to Sonic Boom they might as well have labeled it Sonic Boom, Vol. 2: “Hell or Hallelujah” is “Modern Day Delilah”, “The Devil Is Me” is “I’m An Animal”, “Outta This World” is “When Lightning Strikes”, “All for the Love of Rock & Roll” is “All for the Glory”, etc. Okay, maybe it doesn’t all sound like Sonic Boom… “Eat Your Heart Out” sounds like a Gene number that could’ve been on Asylum!
“Hell or Hallelujah” and “All for the Love of Rock & Roll” were instant favorites for me but the rest has taken some time to grow on me, just as the last album did. Songs like “Wall of Sound”, “Freak” (which was supposedly intended for Lady Gaga according to another review I read online) and “Back to the Stone Age” didn’t grab me at first but there’s some good stuff going on there if you stick it out. I’m really starting to get pulled into the whole album the more I listen to it. Probably the only song on this album I don’t have any affection for is the closing track “Last Chance”. Not bad but it’s filler. Poor way to close an album and Monster would’ve benefited if they limited the album to 10 tracks.
Ultimately, I think if anyone liked Sonic Boom, they’ll like this album. I definitely think Monster is the more consistent of the two (Gene brought some real clunkers to the last album) but I also believe the strongest songs from Sonic Boom are better than the strongest songs from Monster, if that makes sense. Still, this is pure KISS — big dumb fun. “Back to the Stone Age” really embodies the band at this point. They aren’t looking to reinvent the wheel, write thoughtful lyrics or expand their musical horizons. Do I think KISS can do better? Yes. But if this was the final KISS album, would I be okay with that? Yes, I would.
There is a bonus track if you buy the album through iTunes (and you have to buy the entire album to get it) called “Right Here Right Now”. It’s one of the better songs from the album and sounds equal parts ’70s KISS and late ’80s KISS. It’s a shame you can’t buy the individual track on iTunes because I definitely would as it’s better than most of what’s on this album.
Highlights: “Hell or Hallelujah”, “Wall of Sound”, “Shout Mercy”, “Long Way Down”, “Eat Your Heart Out”, “The Devil Is Me”, “All for the Love of Rock & Roll”