Sound: I saw Get Him to the Greek not too long ago and found the movie freaking hilarious as the washed up rock star Aldous Snow makes one embarrassing single and album called African Child. The results are negative reviews and poor sales of his albums which sending panic among the record company and one infuriated Sean Combs. The same could be said about this album from legendary hard rock band Kiss. Kiss had it all a few years back with one classic after another, but has steered the wrong way and has gone off the cliff. Like every band now and then, they are all bound to release a bad album like Aerosmith Rock in a Hard Place, Metallica St. Anger, and The Clash Cut the Crap just to name a few.
The music in the album is a lot different than the music they released a few years ago when the band was really huge. Instead of hard rock licks and riffs from guitarist Space Ace and the Star Child, we get this bland attempt of epic failure with synthesizers and harmonies. There are a lot of orchestral arrangements, soft piano, water flowing, flutes, medieval style, and even rips from Pink Floyd that go nowhere through most the album. Simply stated, Kiss has gone from hard rock to disco/rock to some sort of weird and confusing theatrical art rock. The most hardcore fan of the Kiss Army will even ask something is wrong when listening to this album. // 2
Lyrics: Music from the Elder is a concept album, but I don't think it's really important to try and understand this concept, for it will be too much work. Well, that's pretty ignorant for me to say, but I didn't pay attention to the lyrics because I was distracted by the music and vocals of the Demon and Star Child. As for some of the lyrics that I did read, I didn't know how to take the lyrics because I found them pretty flimsy and couldn't get into the story as the music set my brain to complete distortion. I guess there could be some unintentional laughs, but is that the sole reason why we listen to the music. Yes, Kiss is trying to paint a picture and use the music to create a movie around its story, but a lot of the lyrics could have been reworded
you're not well, Mr. Blackwell. Why don't you go to h*ll?
Only you are the answers
Under the Rose
And yet you must be worthy of the prophecy but seek and you shall find
A World Without Heroes
A world without heroes is like a world without sun
Put the disorganized music and vocals, you get awfulness coming out of your radio, stereo, headphones, CD players, or choice of listening. // 4
Overall Impression: It is understandable when a band wants to do something different. Sometimes when experimenting, the artist makes a bad song which is okay, for everybody does or will do that in their career. However, it's very questionable when a band makes miraculously bad song that has a weak and uninspiring music along with dreadful lyrics. Kiss attempted to do a jaw dropping awesome album with epic porportions and out stretched their music style to a form of theatrics and art rock with a story behind the album. One point, but at times when a band does that, they come out with a very awful song out of the entire album. However, Kiss made an awful album with one very good track Escape from the Island and two okay tunes Dark Light and I. If you're new to Kiss, stay away from this album until you become a hardcore Kiss fan.
Why review this album then? My motivations are to give it a try and see if it's really that bad or underrated. According to legend, guitarist Ace Frehley left band citing the loathing of this album, gulp. The smartest move I did was go to YouTube and listen to the album from there. I don't think there's anything wrong with that because I don't think this album is on stores, so might as well try guerilla style review.
Here are the songs:
Fanfare opens up the album with an orchestral performance. Fanfare is an attempt to open up in hopes to make you feel like you are watching a movie. Listening to this, I thought a bad movie and hoped it ends as soon as possible. I began thinking about another song that featured epic music and it rocked after couple of minutes. This tune was called "In the Evening".
Just a Boy is blatantly laughable and outright bad. There are guitar works from Frehley that are alright, but it's the vocals by Stanley that are distracting and stink. I wanted to laugh, but was annoyed with the mystical attempt for the music.
Odyssey starts off with a soft piano and goes on with orchestral symphony. I liked the rhythm to it, but the lyrics are meh. The singing is pretty uninspiring and helps me clinch my nails to the table, so I don't have to change the track. Halfway through the song, I felt like running out because I was neither laughing nor having a good time. There is an alright guitar solo after the dreadful sounds that felt like Frehley wasn't trying. Even when he's not trying, he's still is good. It is after the guitar solo that I finally started changing my view about the song. Although lacking and willing to go to the Odyssey, the Odyssey avoids resulting like the Second Crusades at the battle of Hattin.
Only You opens up a hard rocking guitar, but the vocals come in and ruin it. Eric Carr starts to drum, but doesn't recapture the Frehley or Stanley's guitar riffs. We get a smooth, but not great bass works from Gene Simmons that doesn't mesh well with Carr's drumming or the guitar riffs. We continue this mess until chorus hits and Stanley and Frehley step it up a notch with a catchy guitar lick. Although unable to make this a good song, Only You is able to cross into okay territory.
Oh no, Under the Rose comes next with a under the bridge or water introduction. I couldn't dwell into this song too much and thought it was trying thriving on a Pink Floyd style. The song sinks deeper when it switches back and forth Pink Floyd style to a medieval style to hard rock. I thought this track would be a bomb if it were not for Frehley's guitar solo. Note, I'm going to give Frehley the credit for the guitar solos since he seem to be smart enough. As things sank deeper and deeper, I began to like the chorus a little bit.
Dark Light has a Rolling Stones feel to its performance, but this could be better. The vocals are alright and guitar works are pretty alright as this is almost a jumpy and jiving song. I didn't mind it as much, but thought this is okay. It's better than most of the crap on this album.
A World without Heroes opens up with soft keyboards and pretty cool bass thump that adds a little horror and suspense, but then falls off and dies. The singing threw me off as it doesn't capture sadness or creates atmospheres, so we are left with one below average song. I didn't cared for the arrangements and thought all in all it sucked. As you might expect, the lyrics are bad and clich as you predict.
The Oath has an opening guitar riff that works well and a rhythm that takes on Heart's Barracuda. Stanley begins to sing goes nicely until we hit the chorus screeching the song to a complete halt. I thought Watch out! We're heading to a brick wall! Watch out, she cut the brakes! The song switches from bad to good. The good was the guitar works and bad was the vocals at the chorus. The drumming and bass are pleasantly alright, but don't bring anything that could break through or distract the awful vocals. The Oath falls from what could have been a classic.
Mr. Blackwell takes its time around the first couple of the seconds of the song. The song avoids the mistakes The Oath has, but is performed in one of most confusing and eyebrow raising tracks because it doesn't feel like anyone was trying. The chorus and lyrics go beyond amazement of badness like you're not well, Mr. Blackwell. Why don't you go to h**l? I often don't let lyrics be a barrier to my likings of a song, but this is just awful. Nikki Sixx from Motley Crue wrote some better lyrics, and he wasn't a 100% there in Theatre of Pain and Girls, Girls, Girls. I guess the song follows a person who's not there, and whatever.
You know what? I'm not taking any more of this and I'm walking out on this album. (Siren), oh no, they spotted me! I'm on the run as a guitar riff opens up my Escape from the Island. Yeah, this is what it's all about as the guitars fire it off with a catchy lick here and there and bass and drums go right into the rhythm barely pounding my heart beat. There are not bad vocals anywhere and found this instrumental effective.
I is the last track and does pretty well in the opening rhythm with a catchy guitar riffs, bass, and drums. The vocals are somewhat well performed, but the chorus is flimsy. The chorus features a chant that allows the listener to chant even though it will be turn it off. I remember a better and stronger song that was poppy and had a chant called Take on the World by Judas Priest. I is the closest track resembling to Kiss' heydays. It's not great, but it's better than most of the crap. The lyrics are alright though, but didn't really pay attention because I quit while it was still ahead. // 3