Sound — 7
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.
Lyrics — 7
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.
Overall Impression — 7
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.