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Kiss - "Sonic Boom" (CD)

Kiss - "Sonic Boom" CD cover image

"Sonic Boom" track listing:

1. Modern Day Delilah
2. Russian Roulette
3. Never Enough
4. Yes I Know (Nobody's Perfect)
5. Stand
6. Hot And Cold
7. All For The Glory
8. Danger Us
9. I'm An Animal
10. When Lightning Strikes
11. Say Yeah

Kiss Klassics (Disc 2)
1. Deuce
2. Detroit Rock City
3. Shout It Out Loud
4. Hotter Than Hell
5. Calling Dr. Love
6. Love Gun
7. I Was Made For Lovin' You
8. Heaven's On Fire
9. Lick It Up
10. I Love It Loud
11. Forever
12. Christine Sixteen
13. Do You Love Me
14. Black Diamond
15. Rock And Roll All Nite

Bonus DVD: Kiss Live In Buenos Aires
1. Deuce
2. Hotter Than Hell
3. C'mon And Love Me
4. Watchin' You
5. 100,000 Years
6. Rock and Roll All Nite

Reviewed by on November 6, 2009

"The outrageously inflated chorus of 'Say Yeah' was the wrong way for the album to end, but by and large, the new material had more good than bad. "

With "Sonic Boom" Kiss seems to be attempting to erase more than 30 years worth of its own history, setting the time machine back to about 1977 musically speaking. That was a good move on the band's part, and one I think most of the band's fan base would agree was a long time in coming.

There's plenty about "Sonic Boom" that seems to suggest an effort to kiss and make up with fans who got disgusted with the silliness of the no-makeup era, the seriously botched reunion with Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, and the band simply slapping Criss and Frehley's "Catman" and "Space Ace" makeup on relative newcomers Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer (even though Frehley and Criss' first replacements, Vinnie Vincent and Eric Carr, both got unique makeup). Add to that Gene Simmons' constant obnoxious boasting over his bank account, and merchandising that ranges from "Kondoms" to "Kaskets," and you have a recipe for a fan exodus.

Offering a three-disc package for 12 bucks at Wal-Mart goes a long way toward patching things up — especially when the new material on the first disc proves to be better than anything I've heard from the band in at least two decades.

Now, I'm going to fess up, and admit that I'm not that much of a Kiss fan. This is the first Kiss CD I ever purchased, and I did so only to get my hands on the Kiss Klassics disc, which features mostly songs from the band's 70's heyday re-recorded by the modern version. I figured for 12 bucks, I'd get something old and something new, and if I didn't like the new disc, I wouldn't feel ripped off. I'm feeling pretty good about my purchase.

I'd heard "Modern Day Delilah" on the radio a couple times and liked it, so I was happy to hear it thundering out of my speakers as the first track on the album. The guitars have a great 70's rock heft to them and Paul Stanley's voice seems to be in good enough shape and Gene Simmons lurks in the background during the chorus in an intriguing way.

Gene takes over the lead vocals on "Russian Roulette," which has some clumsy lyrics, but has a great almost punky bridge, heading into the almost absurdly big chorus. Mixed metaphors amuse me no end as we switch from guns to cards and back, but hey, I kept tapping my toe to this mostly mid-tempo bopper.

"Never Enough" finds the band fully embracing the 1970s sound. Seriously, this could've been hidden on the Kiss Klassics disc and I'd have never guessed it was a new song. It's that good. Sure, the cynic in me had a bit of a hard time with a happy Paul Stanley song about doing your best, but what can I say, it had an infectious spirit.

Gene responds with the almost-great "Yes I Know (Nobody's Perfect)." Simmons, abandoning even the minimal subtlety of this band, shouts "take off your clothes." It's a shame, too, because the music is fantastic.

"Stand" starts strong but devolves into the son of "God Gave Rock 'n Roll To You II" in the chorus. It's intended to be an anthem, but it's a little too schmaltzy for my taste.

Then it's "Hot And Cold," another Gene Simmons track about sex, but this time the chorus is good enough I'm willing to forgive Gene for the plea to "feel my tower of power." Seriously, dude, you're 60 and your name isn't Mick or Lemmy — give it a rest. Then again, the amazing power of rock 'n roll is that you can think like a teenager forever.

Eric Singer takes lead vocals on "All For The Glory," which is an okay song, but feels like filler. So, for that matter, does Tommy Thayer's vocal showcase, "When Lightning Strikes." Neither track is bad, but they certainly don't add much.

Toward the end of the album, it definitely loses steam, with Paul sinking into Spinal Tap territory on "Danger Us" with the silliest chorus I've heard in a good long while, and Gene's overly simple "I'm An Animal."

The outrageously inflated chorus of "Say Yeah" was the wrong way for the album to end, but by and large, the new material had more good than bad.

One thing that I did consistently notice was that Tommy Thayer took more than just Ace Frehley's makeup. The solos on the album bear, shall we say, a remarkable similarity to ones that Frehley performed on previous Kiss tracks. Even a non-fan like me could pick that out. I'm not sure if that was Thayer's call or if it was Paul Stanley's (he did produce the album, after all).

The Kiss Klassics disc is a lot of fun, with pretty much every Kiss song I ever wanted to add to my collection and four I could care less if I ever heard again (no amount of convincing will ever persuade me that "I Was Made For Lovin' You," "Heaven's On Fire," "Lick It Up," and especially "Forever" are "klassics" in any sense of the word, regardless of how well they charted). Also, I was hoping that they'd put a guitar solo in "Rock And Roll All Nite" rather than just put down another take on the solo-free album version.

The DVD "Live In Buenos Aires" is okay, though I have to say that the vocals are pretty consistently covered up and the tilting camera angles get pretty annoying. Also, unlike either of the two audio discs, you can definitely hear the damage years of touring has done to Paul Stanley's voice (Gene's too, for that matter). Still, for 12 bucks, you get nearly over two hours of material and, by and large, there's much more boom than bust on Kiss' "Sonic Boom."

Highs: "Modern Day Delilah," "Never Enough," and "Hot And Cold," plus the Kiss Klassics disc and the sheer value of the collection.

Lows: "Stand," "Danger Us," and "Say Yeah," plus weak vocals on the live DVD.

Bottom line: Kiss tries to make up for three decades of lightweight material — and just about does it.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)