September 03, 2009
New CD from the painted rockers the best in decades


What didn't go into KISS's new album Sonic Boom seems almost as important to Gene Simmons as what did.

"There are no ballads," the demon bassist growls down the phone from L.A. when asked about the band's first studio disc since 1998's Psycho Circus. "There are no keyboards. There are no synths. There are no girl background singers."

Of course, there's also no Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. But a lack of original members didn't stop Gene and longtime partner Paul Stanley from taking an old-school, back-to-basics approach to their 19th album.

The disc is due for release Oct. 6. It's definitely their strongest work in decades. Here's a song-by-song preview:

Modern Day Delilah 3:37

A funky guitar lick straight from the 1970s hooks up with an 1980s arrangement and a big chorus for a killer opener voiced by Paul. "Yeah, yeah!" are his first words. No argument here.

Russian Roulette 4:32

Gene steps up to the mic on a gear-shifting stomper anchored by his grinding bass, dripping with his usual lascivious lyrics, and graced with a smoking Tommy Thayer solo. Two aces in a row.

Never Enough 3:27

Another outsized 1980s hair-metal arena-rocker from Paul -- but from the slinky guitars and bare-bones beat to Stanley's high-register vocals, it works. Three for three.

Yes I Know (Nobody's Perfect) 3:03

Gene's turn again -- and he dishes up a classic power-chord glam-slam that wouldn't have been out of place on Dressed to Kill. The best song so far. And that's saying something.

Stand 4:50

Stanley and Simmons share the mic on a bombastically stadium-rock anthem to solidarity and perseverance.

Hot and Cold 3:37

Simmons gets the disc back on track with a punchy '70s-style cowbell rocker in the mold of Dr. Love. "Baby, feel my tower of power," leers Gene. Another wicked solo from Thayer.

All For the Glory 3:49

Drummer Singer -- who wears Criss' gear and handles his tunes onstage -- shows off his raspy vocal prowess on this solidly driving number.

Danger Us 4:23

Another classic riff -- there's a bit of God of Thunder in there, but faster and more fiery -- along with another wailing vocal from Paul.

I'm an Animal 3:47

Armed with a lumbering beat and a swaggering Zep-like guitar lick, Gene bellows out a dinosaur-stomper reminiscent of War Machine and I Love it Loud.

When Lightning Strikes 3:45

As his reward for all his blistering Frehley-style fretwork, Thayer gets the vocal spotlight on this chunk of power-chord cowbell-plonk rock.

Say Yeah 4:27

The guitars go from jangly to chugging and Paul plays with some echoing vocals on this Tears Are Falling-like closing anthem. You wanted the best? This time, you actually got it.