05 October 2009
by Mark Eglinton
It always rings alarm bells when ageing bands that have struggled with recent form return with a promise to recreate to their “classic sound” after a long hiatus. More often than not, it backfires spectacularly and that possibility hung like a murky cloud over Sonic Boom from the very moment Paul Stanley blurted out that it was their “best record in 30 years”.
Now, few would argue that Kiss’s recent output has been at best patchy if we’re polite ,and it even seemed that the eleven years since the frankly awful Psycho Circus signified a permanent acceptance that the game was indeed up. Not so though…
With yet another line-up change (Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer are now full-time) and seemingly renewed enthusiasm from Messrs Simmons and Stanley, Kiss sauntered into the studio, wrenched the Pro-Tools plug out of the wall and casually cranked out their most exciting record in decades with a distinct lack of fuss, conclusively confirming Stanley’s rather bold announcement wasn’t just hype from washed-up has beens.
If you did have any reservations though, ‘Modern Day Delilah’ with its raw, circular riff straight out of 1975 will quickly erase them. It’s beefy, direct and an instant monster – not just that, Stanley’s ageless holler is as potent as ever and Simmons bass is right up front for the first time in years. Lyrically it’s the usual Kiss nonsense of course but poetry and depth was never the aim anyway, they’re just words to accompany the songs. There’s less cheese on offer than previously too with only ‘Stand’ even threatening to head down the ‘God Gave Rock ‘n’ Roll To You’ route and that gives the album a much more solidly serious feel.
It’s a real team effort too with Simmons taking his usual stint at the mic – ‘Russian Roulette’ being the best of them – and both new guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer having a crack also and on all occasions it’s a total triumph. If you had to pick highlights and that’s hard given the overall quality here, ‘Danger Us’ is high on the list sounding like Aerosmith, and in a good way. Elsewhere, ‘Never Enough’ is prime anthemic Kiss and if you didn’t know better, could have been lifted off any number of their earlier best records.
Watch a trailer for Sonic Boom with loads of positive quotes about the album
In some ways Stanley was right: Kiss have indeed made their best record for a very long time, but don’t expect a solely 1970s sounding album. As fans will know, Kiss’ career can be split into three distinct eras and each of those had their strengths and failings not to mention always changing personnel. What they’ve done here though is pull together everything that makes Kiss a great band and assemble a modern album to showcase it all: It’s loud, it’s proud and it’s a commercial masterstroke. Kiss are rock legends and Sonic Boom confirms it.
Sounds like: Destroyer, Lick it Up, oh, and the sound of cash registers opening and closing…
Top tracks: Modern Day Delilah, Danger Us, Never Enough.
Kiss – Sonic Boom Tracklisting
Modern Day Delilah
Yes I Know (Nobody’s Perfect)
Hot and Cold
All for the glory
I’m an Animal
When Lightning Strikes