WHAT'S HOT: SONIC BOOM
November 15, 2009
By Ray Paul

Having to wait 12 years is a test of any fan's patience, and the criticisms aimed at the band living on past glories certainly seemed justified. So here we have the first new release from KISS since "Psycho Circus." Gone are Frehley and Criss, replaced by Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer. As a longtime KISS fan, I had all but given up on anything new, especially as Gene Simmons had been very verbal regarding his views on internet piracy and new material, so it was a surprise to hear the band were in the studio not so long ago.

Kicking off with "Modern Day Delilah," the familiar "yeah, yeah" from Paul Stanley takes us into familiar KISS territory. There is a hard edge to the guitar work, and instantly I noticed Tommy Thayer's guitar solo is right out of the Ace Frehley guitar solo book. It's nice to hear Gene and Paul's vocals up front singing together on the chorus as they used to in the early days.

A thundering start to "Russian Roulette" has Gene's gut-bucket bass high in the mix, and a very AC/DC type of riff introduces the song. Again, the song is at a mid-pace, and it's more of a lazy early '90s feel to Gene's voice with a big vocal gathering round the mic for the chorus. It's a good song. Taking us back to the kind of stuff the band were releasing in the late '80s and early '90s, "Never Enough" is a traditional Paul Stanley fanfare and reminded me of "I Just Wanna" from Revenge. There's some nice work from Gene in the bass department for anyone missing some of his more traditional work from the early days.

Taking us back to something that might have been on Dressed To Kill, Gene introduces us to the simplistic charms of "Yes I Know" as Tommy Thayer all but replicates an Ace solo and Gene sings about his favourite subject... yes, girls! It's kind of KISS doing KISS, if you get my meaning. Then we get to "Stand" and really get something to get your teeth into, and it's KISS anthems at their best! The song has all the trademarks with Stanley vocal raps, and there is some nice punchy guitar work before we get a nice mid section vocal piece from the band as the song just gets bigger and bigger. The band are not trying too hard to take the sound back to the glory days of Destroyer, and the song benefits from this.

Eric Singer emulates Peter Criss' cowbell drum pattern and Gene's vocals take us right back to Rock And Roll Over for "Hot And Cold." It's the sort of song Gene writes in his sleep and has a very retro feel to it. Surprisingly, Eric Singer's vocals on the almost Ramones-like "All For The Glory" steals the limelight, and we have a strong chorus in which the guitars are up front. It's instantly a great song that is just waiting to find its place on stage. The vocals from all of the band work to an excellent effect as the song builds in strength from the word go, and I would not have minded a few more from Eric after this display.

Cutting edge guitar work introduces us to Paul Stanley's "Danger Us," with a clever play on words as we delve back into classic Paul Stanley material which he did so well in the '80s. It's got the cocksure swagger and the hooks we all love him for, and it's one of a number of stand-out tracks for me on this release. These are the songs we hoped to hear when it was announced that the band were to return to the studio and make it worth the wait,.

It's been some time since Gene has written with the persona of the Demon in mind. With "I'm An Animal" the Demon is back with one of his more menacing vocals and a chunky Black Sabbath style riff. This song has it all, plus an exceptionally blistering solo from Tommy Thayer and some thunderous drums from Mr. Singer. KISS fans, check out the end of the song for the "Fits Like A Glove" scream from the past.

Tommy Thayer's first vocal has a similar feel to Frehley's for "When Lightning Strikes," though obviously Tommy is a superior singer. Paul brings "Sonic Boom" to a close with a typical KISS party-style riff for the simply titled "Say Yeah," and we are off into "Uh All Night" territory in style and feel for this song. It's the sort of song that you would have found on the likes of "Asylum" or "Crazy Nights," and to be honest, it's just nice to hear Paul singing in this style, as he is truly an underrated singer in the rock scene.

Certainly a good release that sits closely with the likes of "Revenge." For bands like KISS, we should also just enjoy the fact that the band are still releasing music some 30 plus years later.