KISS Unleashes a MONSTER for Halloween!

The Legendary Rockers in Halloween Make-up and Comic Book Costumes Give Classic Rock Fans a Thunderous Treat in Their Plastic Pumpkin Baskets This Halloween!

Alllllright, Halloween Fans, You Wanted the Best. You Got the Best! KISS for Halloween! This is The Phantom of Ville coming to you from the ear-X-tacy graveyard with a review of the new KISS album, the appropriately titled, “Monster.” After 40 years in the music business, the Demon, the Starchild, the Spaceman and the Catman still have a little fire left in their bellies to breath into the October night on their 20th studio album in stores October 9th.

KISS and Halloween have always gone together for me like peanut butter and molasses taffy in Mary Jane’s black-and-orange wrapped Peanut Butter Kisses. Maybe it’s the memory of the 1976 “Paul Lynde Halloween Special” in which KISS played three songs as the special musical guest. Maybe it’s the memory of watching “KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park” on October 28, 1978 with a group of KISS obsessed kids who just got home from a local haunted house and spread across the living room floor of my stepsister’s house to watch their Rock & Roll heroes do battle with the forces of evil. In that cinematic masterpiece, the band fought robotic versions of the classic Universal Monsters, Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolf Man in a haunted castle theme park attraction! Maybe it’s the fact that KISS injected their own blood into the red ink of their Marvel Comics magazines. Maybe it’s because collectively they breath fire, spit blood and shoot laser beams out of their guitars in Halloween make-up. Or maybe it’s just because they rock.

Peter Criss and Ace Frehley parted ways with the band years ago, but fans have eventually warmed up to Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer in their roles as Catman on the drums and Spaceman on lead guitar. This is their second studio album with the band following 2009’s, “Sonic Boom,” also released in October just in time for Halloween. Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons have been the backbone of the band since it was formed in New York City in 1973, and Stanley is the solo producer of the new record. Simmons, the band’s unholy Demon, remains the band’s Halloween hook and non-stop marketing machine.

In the works for well over a year, the “Monster” has finally been unchained, preceded a little over a month ago by the album’s first single, “Hell or Hallelujah.” Easily the fastest paced track on the new album, “Hell or Hallelujah” recalls the energy and spontaneity of the hungry 1970’s KISS on tracks like “I Stole Your Love” and “Love Gun.” Like the previous record’s “Modern Day Delilah,” it was clearly written and positioned up front on the new album as a concert opener. It’s followed immediately by what I think is probably the second best track on “Monster,” the the Gene Simmons’ sung rocker, “Wall of Sound.” Clocking in at just under three minutes, “Wall of Sound” is everything a great rock song should be: simple, short and hooky. It’s meat and potatoes rock. It comes on strong, gets the job done and gets outta here before it overstays it’s welcome. The chorus says it all, “It All Comes Down to the Wall of Sound.”

Simmons’ Demon persona also shines on “The Devil is Me,” thematically recalling songs like “Unholy” from 1992’s “Revenge” and “God of the Thunder” from the classic 1976 “Destroyer.” I was less enthused about his other major vocal lead on the album, “Back to the Stone Age,” but he delivers better returns on “Eat Your Heart Out,” which begins with a barbershop quartet harmonization from all four members. Here’s a new Trick-or-Treat line for you; “Eat Your Heart Out Baby, Won’tcha Give Me Something Sweet.”

Paul Stanley gives his vocal chords a workout on the album’s second single, “Long Way Down,” which is a solid mid-tempo rocker, but I prefer the energy he brings to the album closer, “Last Chance.” Stanley’s vocals have rarely sounded this good in recent years, and recent surgery on his vocal chords seems to have repaired some of the damage done from 40 years spent shouting it out loud to Rock & Roll arena crowds. He lends his lead vocals to the catchy, “Freak,” “Shout Mercy” and one half of “Take Me Down Below.” Stanley shows great restraint as a producer here, giving all band members equal share of the spotlight and not allowing himself to front all the best tracks.

Tommy Thayer is given his second chance to provide a theme for his Spaceman character on “Outta This World,” following his similar spacey, “When Lightning Strikes,” from “Sonic Boom.” It’s a rather comfortable, familiar sounding Ace Freheley tribute, but Thayer more than fills the Spaceman’s boots. Eric Singer is a dead ringer for Peter Criss’ raspy voice on the anthemic, “All for the Love of Roll & Roll,” a bluesy, lazy Summer evening ode to Classic Rock. He can thank Paul Stanley for providing a couple of clever turns in the lyrics: “I was Thinkin’ Life Would be so Pretty, It was Pretty Mean.”

“Monster” is a solid jolt of needed Rock & Roll perfect for playing in the car on the way to any haunted house, Caufield’s Halloween Parade on Friday, October 12th, or just cruising around checking out the Autumn foliage. You’ll find an Exclusive Best Buy version for $11.99 that includes a 3-D cover and a FREE KISS ARMY membership which will get you a free membership card, key-chain and wristband in the mail. WalMart is carrying a Special Edition for $14.99 that includes a 64-page mini-magazine, but don’t forget Gene Simmons’ mantra that it really “All Comes Down to the Wall of Sound.”

The Phantom of The Ville

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