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Monday, October 19, 2009

Album Analysis: KISS's Sonic Boom (Or perhaps it should be called Sonic Thud!)

Now that I have had the new KISS album for a bit and truly listened to it, it's time to get down and dirty to provide a quick analysis. The album isn't bad. The album isn't good. The album just is, if that makes any sense. Sonic Boom isn't memorable, it's just another album to add to the KISS album collection. You mean to tell me that I waited eleven years for this??? Everybody knows about my huge man crush on Paul Stanley, that he can do no wrong in my eyes. Well, as a singer, songwriter, artist, and human being, he simply is amazing. But as a producer, he needs to hand over the reigns to somebody who knows how to oversee production on a great album. Lest we forget that the only other KISS albums that Paul produced were 1984's Animalize and 1986's Asylum, both of which didn't meet the standards of other great albums. If they really wanted to recapture the classic KISS sound from the 70's couldn't Gene and Paul put their egos aside and hire Bob Ezrin or Eddie Kramer who were responsible for producing their best albums (Destroyer, Revenge, Alive, Love Gun)? You also probably know by now that Ace Frehley and Peter Criss are yet again out of the band, replaced by two musicians who have the undaunting task of being dictated by Gene Simmons to wear Ace and Peter's make-up and costumes. Though Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer may be better overall musicians that Frehley and Criss, the fact that they were not able to create their own identities or for that matter even not wear make-up at all bothers me tremendously.

Sonic Boom doesn't really have any songs that could stand up as a true KISS classic. Of the 11 songs on the album, there are no 5 star songs, and only two 4 star songs. Modern Day Delilah, the first single on the album, is a fun song but not as memorable as other opening tracks on previous albums. The other good tune is the third track, Never Enough, which has a nice little melody with Paul singing his heart out. But it's a good thing that Poison front man Bret Michaels is a KISS fan, because he could sue them for blatantly stealing the melody from Nothing But A Good Time. The four songs with Gene on lead vocals are pure garbage. No memorable hooks, just sounds like crap that probably didn't make it on Gene's infamous 1978 solo album. The album sounds like it was produced in two weeks, which Paul stated in interviews that in fact it was. The fact that KISS didn't include any of the new tunes in their live setlists with the exception of Modern Day Delilah indicates that maybe deep down, the band knows these songs aren't going to go over with their dedicated fans. For example, one of the tunes on the album is called Danger Us, with lyrics as silly as "Danger Me, Danger You, Danger Us!" I wish I was making this up. The band was never known for their lyrics, and I've never seemed to mind the tongue in cheek word style of their previous songs. But Danger Us, and other tunes like All For The Glory and I'm An Animal are really awful. On a positive note, I will applaud Tommy Thayer who seems to be the only band member who seemed motivated on the album. Thayer cowrote a bunch of the tunes with Paul and Gene and his guitar work really shines on the album.

Like all KISS albums that are about to hit the record stores (or exclusive at your local Wal-Mart; the retail giant that I now refuse to ever step foot into again after having no choice but to purchase Sonic Boom and a $6 bag of KISS M&M's), Paul and Gene love to overhype and overpromote, and have claimed this is their best album since 1976. I got sucked into the hype, but after listening to it over and over like I do for every KISS album, it's a slap in the face to the true fans of the band. Revenge in 1992 was better than this muck, as was 80's classics like Creatures Of The Night and Lick It Up. I can't justify this album even being one of their top 20 albums. If you haven't already picked it up, go out and buy Ace Frehley's new solo record, Anomaly. It's ten times the album that Sonic Boom is, with better melodies and production. I applaud KISS for going into the studio to record new songs, but they need to go back to the drawing board, or perhaps it is best to stop recording and continue to bore us with the same act they have been doing for the best 13 years since they put the makeup on.

Maybe their next album will appropriately be called "Rock & Roll All Night, Sell Out To Wal-Mart Every day!"

Final Grade: B-

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