Sound — 8
The early 1990s was a time where the entire music industry was knocked off its rocker; grunge had overtaken the airwaves and the album charts, and with the pressure of their record labels who were enjoying the commercial success of this new sound, established hard rock acts were forced to decide upon one of two options: change your style, or perish. Many bands considered such a move to be too forced and not representative of themselves or the mission they founded upon founding their band, thus sticking to their pride and ultimately meeting poor record sales, a nice letter announcing you were dropped from the label and (occasionally) the dissolution of your group.
Even those select heavy metal forerunners who tried to change tactics were met with glaring criticism from professional reviewers and those diminished yet dedicated fans who still rushed out to put up your new album. It was a "no good deed goes unpunished" scenario, and the members of Kix found themselves in the former situation: stayed with their guns, and eventually broke up. Nearly two decades separate the release of their 1995 studio album "Show Business" and their new effort, "Rock Your Face Off," and what we surprisingly find is almost original Kix lineup (minus bassist Donnie Purnell) performing the same style of music that they did nineteen years ago, with the same chemistry and sound. Who could've guessed that one?
The album immediately lures in the cautious fan with the familiar AC/DC-inspired rocker, "Wheels in Motion," which offers choice amounts of vocal melodies and hard hitting chord progressions. It's almost as though we've stepped back to the days of "Midnite Dynamite" and "Blow My Fuse," where glam metal remained the uncontested ruler of the Sunset Strip and Kix were at the helm of the music scene. A similar brew manifests on "You're Gone," which at first threatens to transition into a romanticized blues rock tune before picking up the pace with the encouraging strides of Mark Schenker's bass lines. "Can't Stop the Show" similarly takes some time to build momentum, before the tambourine-bracketed song hits the gas during the second verse with attention capturing guitar riffs and harmony-paired vocal chants.
"Rollin' in Honey" and the title track from "Rock Your Face Off" continue to boast a strong pairing of Angus Young-inspired shredding and the well preserved range of frontman Steve Whiteman. It becomes readily clear that this is an album meant for the listener to play while speeding across the highway, as it fails to loose momentum through such percussion-decorated tracks as "All the Right Things" and "Dirty Girls," the latter of which could be advertised as the sequel to the fan favorite "Dirty Boys" which concluded their 1988 studio album. With a solid focus and youthful approach, the members of Kix deliver a performance coated in nostalgic moments that seldomly lets up from start to close.
Lyrics — 8
There's always the challenge as a vocalist when you're attempting to reestablish your band's identity after nearly two decades of inactivity within the studio, as far as living up to your legacy and providing fans a performance which stands up alongside your previous efforts without sounding like dull rehashes of your earlier material. While one can understand why Steve Whiteman would be cautious about achieving such a feat, after hearing his work on "Rock Your Face Off" you tend to wonder why he was so heedful. It would pretty much only be called a drunken mistake if Whiteman didn't sound like himself on Kix's anticipated comeback album, as his range remains in admirable shape and he can still nail the sexually provocative lyrics which decorated the band's earlier efforts with apparent ease.
Overall Impression — 8
Having survived one of the more (if not most) dramatic transition in the music industry, Kix stand on top with a performance that can only be described as authentic on their seventh studio album, "Rock Your Face Off." Even during moments where the album takes a break from the high voltage rock and roll, for example the relaxed acoustic ballad "Inside Outside Inn," the members of Kix fail to lose their momentum, and for longtime fans this effort serves as a testament as to why this band was so enjoyable in the first place.