Kiss – ‘Sonic Boom’ (Loud and Proud) Print E-mail
CD Reviews
Written by Johnny H   
Monday, 05 October 2009 07:32


Sonic_BoomThere was a time, way back when, that the announcement of a 'classic' sounding Kiss album about to be released into my Uber Rock world would have had me panting like a face painted lapdog. But this is no longer the early 1980's - it's 2009 and I'm much more savvy to the wonderful world of marketing than maybe Mr Simmons and Stanley would like me to be these days.


Anyway, to put this into context, I am what you might call a recovering 'Kissaholic', I've spent a small fortune on this band over the years, buying everything from gig tickets to a whole attic full of merchandise, and most recently the rather sublime Japanese mini LP sleeve CD remasters, so you'll forgive me if I say 'not all is what it seems with the Kiss camp' in my eyes.


kiss_potatoFirstly, there was last year's supposedly fantastic live return at the annual Download festival which if, like me, you went and purchased the Alive 35 CD afterwards will be somewhat shocked in how poor it really was, especially a certain Starchild's performance. Then there is the reluctance of messrs Stanley and Simmons to admit that, just like Iron Maiden had to, previous ex members did make up their 'classic' sound, never mind what they want us to think. And lastly the melding of that 'classic' era into what is fast becoming a bit of a pantomime on and off stage is not unlike when Ant and Dec re-enacted the classic Brian Glover Likely Lads episode, a pale imitation of true greatness.


Anyway, enough of my whining, I'll be the first to admit it when a band proves me wrong, and in part Kiss have here. The Paul Stanley produced 'Sonic Boom' does in places indeed sound like 'classic' Kiss but, rather oddly this time around, it is on the Gene Simmons tracks not Paul Stanley's. 'Russian Roulette' (the chorus incidentally a dead ringer for 'Burning Down With Fever') and 'Yes I Know (Nobody's Perfect)' do have a classic Simmons strut and swagger about them, and 'Hot and Cold', despite its very corny chorus. does have a sort of Gene 78 solo album charm about it. 'I'm An Animal' meanwhile is Gene's return to a 'Watching You/Unholy' type of heavy as fuck riffing I have long since missed from the old Demon. So far so good I hear you say, yeah well that is until you get to Paul's definition of the 'classic' Kiss sound.


Kiss_group'Modern Day Delilah', the album's lead track is certainly no 'Detroit Rock City' or in fact 'I Want You', sounding not a million miles away from 'Lick It Up's' opening track  'Exciter', yes its great to hear Paul singing well (and I did enjoy the 'Live To Win' album), but 'classic' Kiss sounding this is not. Elsewhere 'Never Enough' lifts the melody line from Poison's 'Nothing But A Good Time', whilst 'Danger Us' is possibly the worst Paul Stanley track I've heard since 'Radar For Love'. In fact the cracks that showed in Paul's voice live most recently show up again on this track. Album closer 'Say Yeah' is OK, having a sort of 'Unmasked' charm to the verses, but the chorus once again veers too close to those horrible AOR years that I just about struggled through with the band first time around.


'Stand' meanwhile is the classic call and response (Paul and Gene duel vocal) anthem that the band always did so well until they seemingly fell apart from 78 onwards, having briefly remembered how to do it all over again when they covered 'God Gave Rock N Roll To You' on 'Revenge'. Which leaves the new-ish boys tracks, Eric Singer delivers 'All For Glory' in a Catman type purr, but it's no 'Mainline' or indeed 'Baby Driver', and simply feels like a token gesture from his paymasters. Tommy Thayer's 'When Lightning Strikes' on the other hand fairs slightly better as he sounds sort of like a weird mix of Paul and Gene vocally and doesn't try and sound like the Spaceman, in that department at least.


Kiss_Group_2One thing I'd add at this point is if you are going to buy this album make sure it's the 3 - disc (2 CD + 1 DVD) version, as at least there for once with Kiss you are getting a bit of a full on bargain with this set.


So, eleven years after the band's real chance to deliver the 'classic' sound of Kiss was dealt a swift platform booted kick in the nuts via the patchy 'Psycho Circus' the band choose to follow it up with another patchy release, one however that at least sees my childhood hero Gene Simmons back to his blood spitting best. It seems such a shame though that when Ace releases a semi decent solo album a mere few weeks previous to 'Sonic Boom' that these guys couldn't have worked something out and released an album their band's legacy so richly deserved.


Oh well, you can always dream.