Sound — 7
I must say I am pleased with the overall sound of the album. For certain songs I would involve some to help Paul with the production. I don't agree with Paul it is not Kiss album. It has many elements and features typical for their albums, hard not to since they went from rock & roll over pop and heavy metal to hard rock. All the instruments are mixed very well, with an interesting use of effects, some not typical for Kiss (wah). Maybe less cowbells?
Lyrics — 5
To talk about lyrics and the Kiss in the same sentence never ends good. They still write like they are in their 20s. They are exactly what one would expect from them. The singing is another thing. Paul is doing fine, fine when you consider how much he has been pushing his limits constantly for over 40 years. Gone are the E2-G5 times but he still delivers. And I still consider him to be one of the best frontmen in the business. Gene has always been better singer than Paul (vocal ranger consider) and he still kicks a-s. When it comes to Tommy and Eric it is hard to tell, they got only one song each. Technically they are good singers but with a boring/generic voice. I would never listen to a band with frontman with voice like that.
Overall Impression — 6
1. "Hell Or Hallelujah" - Great way how to start a new album. It really manages to set the mood for the whole album. It definitely belongs to the top 10 Kiss album openers. 2. "Wall Of Sound" - First Gene's song on the album and it's killer one, especially his singing. Heavy riffs with a feel of "Creatures Of The Night"/"Revenge", almost like "Thou Shalt Not". 3. "Freak" - I guess two good songs in a row were too much. This one feels like left out from Paul's second solo album "Live To Win". It might have been a good song if it wasn't produced by Paul. Also Paul's voice is pretty weak here. 4. "Back To The Stone Age" - My favourite song on the album. Heavy bass and drums, typical Gene's scream and very well done rhythm guitar, I love Paul can add his sweet playing to a heavy song like this. Tommy's solo in "his/Ace" style fits the feel of the song, still not sure whether I would want him to add his style or just copy Ace's. I would love to hear this one with the "Creatures Of The Night" production/sound and Eric Carr drumming. 5. "Shout Mercy" - Typical Paul's generic song. Nothing special or interesting about this one and four minutes for repetitiveness is way too much. 6. "Long Way Down" - Slightly better than "Shout Mercy" but still feels like a filler. And for some reason (I guess the bridge does that) it is like this song was done by Bruce Kulick while listening to Led Zeppelin for his "BK3". 7. "Eat Your Heart Out" - Sweet opening of the song with that feel of "Hot In The Shade", in a good way. The highlight of the song is the solo, finally Tommy tries something else than imitate Ace and it work! It would have been the best song on the "Crazy Nights" or one of the best on the already mentioned "Hot In The Shade". 8. "The Devil Is Me" - This one seems to get a lot of attention on the Internet as a great song. I find it to be a weaker version of "I'm An Animal", cheap attempt for another "God Of Thunder", and a bit of Ozzy Osbourne singing. Only good part is pure hard rock riff. 9. "Outta This World" - As well as on "Sonic Boom", Tommy gets to sing one song here. It will be compared to "When The Lightning Strikes" it will win. Tommy is really getting into the role of Spaceman (not going to judge whether it is good or not). The lyrics, the "feel", and the structure of the solo is Ace. This song also shows what rock & roll is about: Tommy is better singer than Ace when it comes to range/technique but his voice is generic and booring, I can't imagine listening to him singing more than one or two songs on the album. Bottom line: I would love to hear Ace Frehley do the cover of it, I bet his version would be way better and raw rock & roll. 10. "All For The Love Of Rock & Roll" - Eric Singer's Mainline? What I said about Tommy getting into Spaceman role aplies here as well. I always considered/still do Singer to be hard rock drummer and his only song is what you would expect from Criss back in 70s. I believe this song is for/about Criss. The riff is pure Kiss, cowbells pure Criss. Guilty pleasure? 11. "Take Me Down Below" - When you thought "Uh All Night" was corny and they would never go that low, you were mistaken. If you manage to get over the lyrics you will find it is well done song with some nice singing done by Paul and Gene. 12. "Last Chance" - Uptempo song with a feel of Kiss in the era of Lick it up. Not a bad song to end the album with (with some good singing by Paul). I like Kiss. They have done many different albums, from their first one over "Unmasked or "Carnival Of Souls" to "Sonic Boom". I like the direction they took with "Sonic Boom" and I love what they did here on this album. It might be too early to say but I think this one, in a year or so, will end up in my top 10 Kiss albums and that is success.