I have been listening to this band since I was about 7 years old. So, it's hard for me to look at this album objectively, but this is my subjective opinion on everything anyway right?
I do love all eras of the band at least to a point, but not to the point that they can do no wrong and everything they do is awesome.
I need to make a couple other quick points. Ace Frehley is my favorite guitar player and I have a real hard time seeing Tommy Thayer dressed up as Ace Frehley. It's not right. Now that I have those two things on the table, I can begin in earnest.
Monster is the second album by the world's highest paid Kiss Tribute band, Kiss. When I first heard Sonic Boom, I was unimpressed, but as time wore on, I grew to enjoy the album more and more and I accepted the fact that even with their new lineup, Paul could still write some good tunes. The Gene tracks on that album were just terrible and Tommy's song was about lightning and Eric's song was ok, even if the lyrics didn't make a whole lot sense.
This album was recorded wholly on analog to give it a vintage feel and Paul even turned in a very good vocal performance. (Please note, I'm sure there was a goodly deal of studio magic going on in order to turn 2012 Paul Stanley into 1995 Paul Stanley.)
Again, Paul sat in the producer's chair, but he figured out how to dial in his voice instead of giving it the wet tape sound of Monster's predecessor. Again, they were trying to recapture the sound and feel of the first six Kiss albums. In many ways they did and in many ways they did not. They wrote the songs in the same vein, but I don't believe they can go home again. Gene doesn't remember how to write the kinds of songs he wrote in those days and he and Paul seem to be in the phase of their career where their songs now contain long time stage raps as lyrics. There were a lot of little guitar doodles and fills on the sides of songs like they had in the old days, but in one of the songs, I would swear that Tommy Thayer just used a riff Ace played on Firehouse.
This brings me to my next issue with this album. Tommy Thayer is not Ace Frehley, but he is either choosing to, or being instructed to ape Ace's style. In his song, Outta This World, it really reminded me a lot of Outer Space off of Ace's latest solo effort. Tommy often time uses Ace's single note bending to begin his solos, and it just feels like Tommy's not a part of the music, but that he's playing a character. I cannot imagine how that would feel as an artist, if I'm being honest.
All in all, this record is a solid effort and it succeeds where its predecessor failed: Paul's voice, the recording process, Gene can write songs that aren't extraordinarily creepy now, and the album sounds like it could be a companion piece to Hotter Than Hell. I suppose that's what they're going for. If you're a Kiss fan, you should pick this up. If you never were a Kiss fan, Monster won't convince you.
Run time: 43:45
Playlists: Rock, Arena Rock
1. Hell or Hallelujah
2. Wall of Sound
4. Back To The Stone Age
5. Shout Mercy
6. Long Way Down
7. Eat Your Heart Out
8. The Devil Is Me
9. Outta This World
10. All For The Love of Rock & Roll
11. Take Me Down Below
12. Last Chance