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Track-By-Track

Kiss' New Album Sonic Boom Reviewed Track-By-Track
Mark Eglinton , August 19th, 2009 08:44

The Quietus' Hibernian salmon wrangler Mark Eglinton gets stuck into Sonic Boom, the first Kiss album in over a decade

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Modern Day Delilah

Given the eleven years since their last barely passable studio album – 1998's Psycho Circus it seemed unlikely that Kiss would ever release another album of new material. Seemingly invigorated by a huge recent upsurge in interest in their hefty back catalogue by the younger generation of rock listeners into the studio they went, and six weeks later emerged armed with Sonic Boom. However, we didn't expect them to knock one out of the park this early with this heaving, sweating lump of fabulous groove straight from 1975. "Yeah yeah" are the first words to exit Stanley's mouth and immediately our ears are pricked to what is not stylistically a typical Kiss track, a circular, bass heavy riff driving everything along. The net result is your immediate desire to renew that direct debit to the' Kiss army' while arranging to graft eight or more inches of surplus off your backside on to your tongue—it really is that good.

Russian Roulette

The first of Gene Simmons's vocal contributions and as they go, this isn't at all bad. In fact the years have been pretty kind to the 'god of thunder', and his voice has actually developed more than a semblance of melody. It's raw, punchy and lyrically the usual innuendo ridden stuff "this is Russian roulette—one pull of the trigger is all you're gonna get" etc, which we've heard often before but here's it's done with a freshness of attitude that's been absent for a long, long time.

Never Enough

Classic Kiss and this could easily fit into their live set without being noticed as a brand new track. Paul Stanley seems to have done some kind of 'Benjamin Button' reverse ageing thing with his vocals because he sounds every bit as energetic as he did back in their 70's heyday. Tommy Thayer too has slotted in nicely as an Ace Frehley replacement but without all the 'space' and its associated discordant rambling solos. This is obvious single material, if such things exist anymore, and is Kiss at their best. They've remarkably managed to summon the best attributes of their past without sounding dated, while at the same time making it all sound relevant to now—brilliant.

Yes I know (Nobody's Perfect)

Simmons's rumbling bass drives this fairly standard Kiss number along in a way that it hasn't for years (apparently he was really motivated in the studio) Not just that, he sings too, and tunefully does it. Chunky and not overly overdriven guitar combined with that satisfying emphasis on bass give this a solid feel with some more good-time, tail chasing lyrics, as you'd expect...

Stand

This one will completely divide opinions. Initially a straight-ahead rocker in the vein of the classic 'Strutter' which at no time threatens to dissolve into a 'Crazy Nights' or 'God gave Rock 'n' Roll To You' type anthem; until it does exactly that with a cheesy, cheesy chorus which no other band on the planet would get away with. Not content with that, it even dives into a multi-vocal layered mid section before returning to the huge stadium rock chorus which you could imagine appearing in some awful teen movie. Though it works, it's probably one of the lone stray chunks of rock 'n' roll fromage on here and probably the closest relative to some of their late 80s and early 90s howlers.

Hot And Cold

Cowbell-accented drums and more classroom innuendo punctuate this chunk of typical Kiss fodder (think 'Calling Dr Love'). It all sounds very live and not in any way over-produced (seemingly no Pro-Tools were used anywhere on the record). "Baby feel my tower of power" should give you some idea of what Gene's referring to and the song's easily good enough to forgive him such childishly dated folly.

All For The Glory

Drummer Eric Singer, who has assuredly hammered out rock-solid backing thus far, lends a hand on vocal duties with fabulous result. This is absolutely solid gold stuff reminiscent of Destroyer era Kiss, but with the nastier edge of later incarnations like Creatures of the Night. Tommy's solo is absolutely killer too - what talent he's brought to the band.

Danger Us

"Danger you, danger me, danger us!"— terrible, terrible lyrics but again the track bails itself out of the mire in grand style. Starting with a quietly picked guitar intro before fading satisfyingly (why do bands not fade-in much these days?) Aerosmith like riff and Stanley's most effective vocal outing on the record. You get the impression that they're all really enjoying this stuff and again Simmons's sonorous bass rumble is very much in evidence, aidded by Stanley's own intentionally Spartan studio production.

I'm An Animal

A huge, lumbering riff of Zeppelin-esque ('Dazed and Confused' springs to mind) proportions and another Simmons vocal characterise this beast of a track bristling with stalker menace. Similar in nature to let's say 'War Machine' off Creatures of the Night it stomps emphatically all over some of the tedious filler of recent albums. "I'm an animal, and I'm free" Gene divulges, and who the hell are we to argue. This is fast becoming Simmons's showpiece and surely his richest vein of contribution in their history.

When Lightning Strikes

'Musical singers' continues with guitarist Tommy Thayer wrestling control of the mic this time around. He in no way disappoints, dialling in a pretty effective vocal effort that many more established singers would die for. More cowbells and a riff that's been done before give way to a straight-forward bridge/chorus. The closest you'd get to 'stock' material but in the context of the quality of the album generally that's probably being overly critical.

Say Yeah

When we expect filler we get utter killer, and if you're not singing this in the car or the bath you've no business whatsoever reading this review. Again, Stanley's vocals are a revelation – wielding an insanely addictive hook reminiscent of 'Tears are Falling' from the Asylum era but much, much better. Thayer's solo is brilliant too and resembles a lot of the stuff Bruce Kulick (surely their most underrated axe-man) came up with; fitting the song brilliantly and carrying no excess fret flab whatsoever. The Kiss of 2009 have left the building, and what a way to sign off...

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Mark Stone
Sep 24, 2009 11:13am

HOLY HOLY HOLY COW!!! This album just seriously ROCKS. I'm blown away, can't believe it...who would have thought it after the tragedy of Psycho Circus??? Following Revenge, that was such a disappointment but here it is over a decade later and KISS delivers the best album since, man, what...Revenge, Creatures, Destroyer? TOTALLY UNBELIEVABLE. "Say Yeah" is so dang catchy. I can't believe how fresh this sounds while also hitting on nostalgia. For once you can tell the members of KISS had fun instead of laboring. As for Tommy Thayer, well, I never accepted him as a true member until now. Granted, he's not Kulick but he's not shabby! As Paul sings, "Let me hear you say yeah". YEAH!!!

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John
Oct 11, 2009 11:39am

My 1st concert was 1977, did not follow band in 80's jump back on the wagon for cyco circus, but sonic boom ROCKS!!!!! this is why they are the best!! kiss see you in the rock and roll hall of Fame!

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Doug
Dec 1, 2009 12:03am

i absolutely LOVE this album!! WAY better than Psycho Circus, although the title track was killer, the rest of Psycho Circus sucked!! but i love every song on this album, and was suspicious about the boys actually being able to write anything good after listening to Paul and Gene's last solo efforts. but they did it! and the re-records they did were pretty good (that was what Hotter Than Hell was SUPPOSED to sound like in the first place!). and the bonus DVD is great stuff and the first Kiss music DVD i've ever owned. congrats boys you did it!!

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Becca
Jan 5, 2010 3:11am

Well, I was born to a KISS song on my dads cassette in the hospital, they offered my mum music to calm her down.. In comes KISS, G'n'R and AC/DC. I'm 15 now, So I've been raised on this stuff, I love This new album. Every single song is so catchy! I love the bass on Russian Roulette. Its very reminiscent of Psycho Circius yet maintains a new flair. Simply Brilliant!

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Gav.Stab
Feb 26, 2010 12:51pm

I've been a KISS fan since I first laid eyes and ears on them in the 1970s. I love their 'old' stuff - up to the mid-1980s - then I found the music didn't grab me as much. But Sonic Boom is a revelation. Whilst it is reminiscent of their old work, it is also has a freshness about it and all of the songs stand alone as 'good, catchy tunes'. Good on ya boyz!

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Tim
Jan 14, 2011 3:18pm

I do not get what planet you got your Sonic Boom from Because mine sound like Crazy nights 2.

I wish it were an album of Kiss 70's style material but its more like Gene and Paul ripping off 80's Poison.

There is nothing classic KISS about this album - NOTHING.

Thank god for free downloads.

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Brendan Mackley
Dec 22, 2015 7:42am

i think STAND has many 70's like parts in it and i downloaded the KISS 40 YEARS album and the 3rd last song was Modern Day Delilah

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