Released: Oct 6, 2009
Genre: Hard Rock, Heavy Metal
Label: Universal/Roadrunner Records
Number Of Tracks: 11
Although 11 years have passed since KISS has released an album of full material, the classic band remains true to its roots with Sonic Boom.
UG Team, on october 07, 2009 4 of 7 people found this review helpful
Sound: Gene Simmons is no fool. As the mouthpiece and businessman (often to a fault) of KISS, he probably is well aware that you don't screw with a formula when it works. It's been 11 years since his legendary quartet released a full-length album of original material, and Sonic Boom certainly sounds like what you'd expect out of a KISS record. This is where the slippery slope comes into play. Does the audience want something a little different after so many years? Do you risk artistic freedom? It's hard to say if Simmons even broached these subjects, particularly when Sonic Boom is the latest in several rock records to be sold exclusively at Walmart (a move which reeks of marketing ploys). Once you get over that elephant in the room, you're left to enjoy an album that at least has the fun factor going for it.
You'll get your standard KISS fare on Sonic Boom, with both the sleazy rockers and arena anthems coming out in full force. Once again Ace Frehley is a no-show, but the current lineup is a familiar one with Stanley, Simmons, guitarist Tommy Thayer, and drummer Eric Singer lending their efforts. If there is one thing that is still impossibly impressive, it's that Stanley's enthusiasm and vocal delivery has not been affected in the slightest by age. He's still a dynamo at what he does, and that's jaw-dropping at 57 years of age. Simmons' up-to-no-good vocals are always a hoot, particularly when paired with some of the cheesy lyrics heard on Sonic Boom. Singer and Thayer make a good showing, with Thayer actually bringing the record up to a different level. There are some incredibly juicy riffs (it wouldn't have hurt to hear even more) and Thayer deserves credit for keeping the album fresh at many points along the way.
The first single Modern Day Delilah is a perfect opener with its blues-rock, in-your-face intro. The guys in KISS aren't reinventing the wheel, but Thayer's riffs (plus solo) and Stanley's vocals make the track incredibly likable. Russian Roulette is pure Gene Simmons, with even the monster-tongued rocker's bass thumping brilliantly in the mix. As far as core songwriting is concerned, Russian Roulette is Simmons' most memorable song when acting as singer, but Yes I Know (Nobody's Perfect) is so over-the-top and sleazy lyrically that it might be the latter that garners the most attention.
The key feel-good song on Sonic Boom is Stand, but it doesn't necessarily start off as your run-of-the-mill spirit lifter. Although the intro is fueled by a fantastic riff and the verses are power-chord driven, the chorus utilizes KISS' trademark harmonies. In fact, there's even a moment at the end where that harmonization goes in more of a Beatles' direction. The band isn't getting all artsy on us, but it makes for a refreshing change.
You could argue that the new KISS record sounds somewhat cookie cutter in fashion. Never Enough is reminiscent to Poison'sNothin' But A Good Time during the verses and Hot and Cold actually runs fairly close to Dr. Love. There is, however, a good chunk of your standard fun KISS material, with I'm An Animal delivering a dirty, grooving riff and When Lightning Strikes supplying plenty of cowbell. // 7
Lyrics: The band rarely takes itself too seriously on Sonic Boom, with plenty of tracks covering sexual topics or general machismo. A lot of the boisterous lyrics come from none other than Simmons (in Hot and Cold' he sings, What's your name; We're both thinking the same thing; Now we'll let the games begin), and not surprisingly, he sells the content pretty well. If you're familiar with any of KISS' past material, the lyrical content should be par for the course and not create too many waves. // 7
Overall Impression: KISS won't make any huge splashes with Sonic Boom, and it feels like the quartet is maintaining the status quo. Guitarist Thayer is an unexpected highlight, and he actually could have been utilized more so throughout the course of the 11-track album. At no time will you likely be surprised by the material, and that might be disappointing for anyone who is expecting Simmons or Stanley to change their tune at this stage in the game. But if all you're looking for is some groove-oriented straightforward rock tracks that stay true to KISS' roots, there's a good chance you'll enjoy Sonic Boom. // 8
Battman1993, on november 07, 2011 1 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: After 11 years, the dimissial of two founding members, and a stream of products of all kinds, music industry moguls (and a pretty good rock band) KISS have returned with a new album "Sonic Boom". Right off, I should tell you that the Spaceman, Ace Frehley, and the Catman, Peter Criss are not in KISS anymore. In Ace's place, Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons recruited former Black N' Blue guitarist Tommy Thayer, and in Peter's place is longtime associate Eric Singer. Gene Simmons and his giant tongue continuously hyped "Sonic Boom" as a return to the 1970's heyday of KISS. He's certainly right on that front. "Sonic Boom" sounds like a modern 70's hard rock album, and it is VERY loud. However, I detect a little bit of 80's glam/hair metal thrown in here. I decided to do a track-by-track review.
01. "Modern Day Delilah" - The first single from "Sonic Boom", and a great choice. A very blues-y song, it's the first song to show off Paul Stanley's still awesome voice. Can you believe he's been singing for 35 years?!
02. "Russian Roulette" - The first vocal contribution from KISS's resident a-shole Gene Simmons. I may be in a minority, but I really don't like Gene's voice. It might be because I love Paul's voice so much, but every song on "Sonic Boom" that Gene sings seems to be a letdown for me. The music behind Gene's vocal is actually a nice mid-tempo rock track that speeds up into a chugging rock track at certain points.
03. "Never Enough" - Other reviewers hear Poison's "Lookin' For A Good Time" in this song, but in the intro I actually hear "Rock N' Roll All Nite" (ironically a song Poison covered). Anyways, the most hair metal-ish track on here. Paul sings here, and does it well as usual.
04. "You Know (Nobody's Perfect)" - Another song Gene sings. It's one of the heavier tracks on here, and actually Gene sounds better on this cut.
05. "Stand" - probably the most controversial song on here. It's really the only anthemic song on "Sonic Boom" (actually members of the KISS Army will probably tell you that every KISS song is an anthem). The vocals are the focus here, with a sing-along chorus and multiple full-band harmones.
06. "Hot & Cold" - In what seems to be a theme, Gene sings here. Really nothing special to say about this. Powered by a bass riff. One of the weakest tracks on "Sonic Boom".
07. "All For The Glory" - KISS drummer Eric Singer takes a turn at being the singer here. Eric sounds like a slightly better Gene Simmons. I'm neutral on this one.
08. "Danger Us" - One of my favorite songs on "SB". Back to Paul. This one has a very Guns N' Roses feel. The chorus is insanely catchy and will get stuck in your head for days.
09. "I'm An Animal" - Gene again. The heaviest track by far. A plodding number with heavy riffs and drums. The only Gene vocal contribution I really like, but that might just be because the music fits his voice.
10. "When Lightning Strikes" - Tommy Thayer gets a turn on the mic here. Great guitar solo on this one. Cowbell galore, Tommy is decent on vox.
11. "Say Yeah" - The final track on "Sonic Boom". This one could be another anthem for KISS. Clean intro. This one feels very Def Leppard-like. The chorus is killer. // 7
Lyrics: I'm going to rate each singer before I tackle the lyrics.
Gene Simmons - As I indicated above, I don't like Gene Simmons as a singer. Compared to Paul Stanley, he's just not a great singer.
Paul Stanley - This man is so underrated as a vocalist. His range is still intact 35 years on. I think he should be the only singer for KISS, but having multiple singers has worked for years for KISS, so what do I know?
Tommy and Eric each sing one song, but I won't spend time rating them.
Lyrics: Yes I know KISS has always sung about sex, but it's still a bit disheartening to hear same old-same old on "Sonic Boom". The only instances I actually have a problem with are Gene's songs, "You Know (Nobody's Perfect)", "Russian Roulette", and "Hot & Cold". The lyrics are incredibly juvenile on those cuts. Otherwise the lyrics are serviceable everywhere else. The chorus on "Danger Us" ("Danger You, Danger Me, Danger Us!") is suprisingly good IMO. // 7
Overall Impression: This is the first KISS album I ever bought. To keep it short and sweet, it's fun as all hell. BUT I have some problems with Sonic Boom. First, Gene Simmons is just a problem, both vocally and lyrically. However, I feel that's why Paul Stanley is in KISS at all: To balance out Gene's horsesh-t with decent vocal contributions and decent songwriting. Is this a great album? Hell no. But it is definitely good. // 7
unregistered, on october 28, 2009 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Sonic Boom is one great sounding album. It's louder than some of Kiss' past albums, but is never loud for the purpose of making your ears bleed. It sounds a lot like their work from the 70s; it's good old rock and roll. You wont hear anything like the disco from Dynasty or the heavy metal from Psycho Circus. In fact, it's most closely akin to their first album, the eponymous "Kiss."
Tommy Thayer can definitely keep up with Ace Frehley, now gone solo. He's written some of the best riffs they've had in years and the solos, while a little quiet, are fast, fun, and very well done. "Modern Day Delilah," "All For the Glory," and "Danger Us" really showcase Thayer's talent. He even sings well on "When Lightning Strikes." Gene's basslines are thumping as usual, and they definitely complete the album's second track, "Russian Roulette." Vocal-wise, Simmons' best song is "Hot and Cold." Eric Singer is the best drummer that Kiss has had yet, and is even more fun to watch than Peter Criss or Eric Carr- YouTube will prove that.
The best part of the album, however, is Paul Stanley. His vocals are still top notch, even after singing for Kiss for 35 years. His skills have not waned at all (like AC/DC's Brian Johnson) and he is the one who is really responsible for how good the album is.
The Kiss sound is definitely not stale, but by the end of the album, it seems like they kind of ran out of gas. They should have cut out a song or two, like "Yes I Know (Nobody's Perfect)" and "Say Yeah," the two weakest songs on the album, because they really only hold the disc back. // 9
Lyrics: The lyrics on Sonic Boom are not the best that Kiss has ever had, nor are they the worst. Some of the lyrics sound somewhat odd, like "Hot And Cold." "If it's too loud than you're too old" just sounds odd coming from a band with members in their 50's. Still, they stay true to that classic Kiss mischief-making, women-objectifying fun. // 6
Overall Impression: Sonic Boom is definitely one of the best rock albums that has been or will be released this year. It's got all the components for an awesome rock and roll experience, and is only marred by a few slightly boring tracks. "Never Enough," "When Lightning Strikes," and "I'm An Animal" are the best songs on the album, and the bad should seriously consider taking them on the road with them next time they go on tour. Sonic Boom shows that Kiss is still one of the greatest names in rock, and we should look forward to the material they put out in the future. // 8