KISS - Sonic Boom (Loud &Proud/Roadrunner)
Kiss and hyperbole go hand in hand. Always have done, always will. Gene Simmons is talking about this album like it's his second coming -which will doubtless please the insatiable ladies in the, er, Ladies Room. Paul Stanley has got in the act too, calling Sonic Boom the best record Kiss have made in 30 years - putting it on a par with 1979's illustrious Dynasty.
Of course, you can trust us at Classic Rock to boldly cut through the bluster and reveal the brutal, honest truth. And our verdict is... we agree. Sonic Boom is bloody brilliant.
Kiss's first new studio album in 11 years delivers the goods in spectacular fashion. It's like waiting for a Tesco van to turn up outside your home and instead a Chieftain tank arrives, packed full of fillet steaks. If you read our preview on the Classic Rock website, you'll doubtless remember the comment: 'Kiss seem to have combined the best of all their eras into a single winning package.'
So you get echoes of Rock And Roll Over - where the Flash Four added a neat commercial sheen to their hard rockin' sensibilities - in the music as well as the album cover. Hints of the sprawling grandeur of Creatures Of The Night. Tinges of the chest-thumping teaze of Crazy Nights. So it goes on.
Yet Sonic Boom is no determinedly retro package. It's purely the sound of Kiss playing to their strengths.
Kicking off in scintillating style with "Modern Day Delilah," what's evident immediately is the level of commitment from rhythm guitarist/vocalist Stanley. Sonic Boom probably wouldn't have happened if the Starchild hadn't pulled the strings (leaving Gene dangling underneath the lighting rig) and on...Delilah Stanley sings his platform soles off. Simmons sounds refreshed too, carving out his personaility on "Russian Roulette" and "I'm An Animal" with the sensitivity of a tattooist wielding a rusty steak-knife. Put simply, the Demon is back to his lascivious best.
There's no Ace or Peter, of course. We never thought we'd write the following, but... we don't miss 'em. Guitarist Tommy Thayer puts in a remarkable performance - akin to Eddie Van Halen replicating Frehley licks - and Thayer's showcase song, "When Lightning Strikes," isn't half bad either. Ditto drummer Eric Singer, whose playing is impeccable, and whose singing on the chundering "All For The Glory" is every bit as good as Criss's on "Black Diamond."
Standouts? Well, Stand is a 21st century "God Gave Rock And Roll To You," no doubt about it; "Danger Us" is the sort of throwaway classic you thought Kiss had forgotten how to write; and "Say Yeah" is perhaps the most triumphal album closer of all time.
In a world without heroes, thank God Kiss are alive and licking once again.