Welcome to a new weekly post that I will call Metal Mondays, where I will rank the albums of a certain artist in the metal and hard rock genre from worst to best. As I am a list and ranking person, I am unable to have a simple discussion on what a band’s good albums are, as well as their not-so-good ones. I must rank them in some sort of order, or I will not be able to participate! This also makes for a fun debate, don’t you think?
NOTE: I will rank full length STUDIO ALBUMS only. There will be no live records, greatest hits, or EP’s here.
This week we will visit everybody’s favorite masked marvels: KISS. I was introduced to the amazing world of rock and roll by my best friend in second grade, who, by the way, has gone on to become a wildly successful vocalist in the genre himself. No, I will not reveal who it is. Besides, I haven’t personally talked to this individual since that day his family moved away.
Anyway, this buddy of mine turned me onto KISS. Until then, I was an oldies fanatic, particularly of Elvis Presley. KISS was my first venture into anything current. Let me just say, as a seven-year-old kid, WOW, was I blown away! These guys were unpredictable and dangerous! And, at that point, nobody had a clue what they looked like underneath the war paint.
The first album I bought (or my parents were kind enough to buy for me) was Alive II. Remember the photo when you opened the album up? That stage? Unbelievable! From there, I went back and became familiar with Alive I, as well as some of the studio albums, such as Destroyer and Love Gun. Let’s just say I was hooked, and because of KISS, and my now famous classmate, I began to explore other rock and roll bands such as AC/DC and Black Sabbath.
So, here begins the album ranking. As there are 20 studio albums, some of the write-ups may be brief. Again, the aforementioned live records will not be included, although Alive I is arguably the biggest and most important KISS album available.
Nothing really to say about this one. Even KISS has to have their worst album, and this is it.
Best Song: A World Without Heroes
Best Deep Cut: A World Without Heroes
The original classic lineup ends before our very eyes. Another forgettable album.
Best Song: Talk to Me
Best Deep Cut: Talk to Me
Are you seeing a trend with the decade associated with these first few bottom feeder records?
Best Song: Crazy, Crazy Nights
Best Deep Cut: Bang Bang You
KISS trying to fit into the 80s glam metal scene. Not particularly my cup of tea, but there are a few decent songs here, including the solid hit single, Heaven’s on Fire.
Best Song: Heaven’s on Fire
Best Deep Cut: I’ve Had Enough (Into the Fire)
See my comments for Animalize. Copy, paste. Take out, Heaven’s on Fire. Insert, Tears are Falling.
Best Song: Tears are Falling
Best Deep Cut: King of the Mountain
The last studio album we have from KISS. It’s okay, considering it’s 2012.
Best Song: Hell or Hallelujah
Best Deep Cut: Shout Mercy
The album where the band took off the makeup. Decent offering, but nothing special.
Best Song: Exciter
Best Deep Cut: Exciter
The great Eric Carr’s last album. Amazing tour for this one but a long and meandering record with too few highlights. That said, the brilliant, Hide Your Heart, and the ballad, Forever, more than makes up for the filler.
Best Song: Hide Your Heart
Best Deep Cut: Betrayed
This is the album KISS was working on before doing an about face and agreeing to reunite with original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss. It is the final record to feature guitarist Bruce Kulick, a key figure during the band’s 1980s movement. The group eschewed its classic hard rock style for an alternative, grunge-sounding record. As much of a disaster in the making as that sounds, Carnival of Souls isn’t a bad album at all.
Highlights include, Hate, Rain, Master and Slave, Childhood’s End, I Will Be There, Jungle, and the Kulick-fronted, I Walk Alone.
Best Song: Master and Slave
Best Deep Cut: Master and Slave
The reunion album with Frehley and Criss. KISS decided to cash in on its gigantic reunion tour and head back to the studio with all four original members. The result is a mixed bag with some solid songs, including the excellent title track, but overall, this record represents a disappointment considering the expectations (albeit unfair) that came with it. Rumors of creative differences and whether Frehley and Criss are actually on the record persist.
Best Song: Psycho Circus
Best Deep Cut: Dreamin’
Disco-KISS! This album gets a bad rap, but it is pretty decent offering in my opinion. It’s not my go-to record, however, I would put this one into my player before the previous ten. The band was experiencing its share of tension by this point, and it depends on who you talk to as to whether Criss played on it.
Best Song: Sure Know Something (the “Unplugged” version is fantastic)
Best Deep Cut: Sure Know Something
This was the first KISS album in 11 years and the first to feature the Stanley-Simmons-Tommy Thayer-Eric Singer line-up. For a band so long in the tooth, Sonic Boom was a very strong showing by a band who was, perhaps, out to prove that the derailment of the classic lineup wouldn’t necessarily mean the complete end of the group.
Best Song: Say Yeah
Best Deep Cut: Never Enough
A criminally underrated album. This was the first KISS record to feature Eric Singer on the drums, replacing the late Eric Carr. It featured the singles, Unholy, I Just Wanna, and God Gave Rock and Roll to You II, although the latter track being one of the weaker ones in my opinion. Other strong cuts include, Take it Off, Thou Shalt Not, and Domino.
Best Song: Take it Off
Best Deep Cut: Take it Off
The first entry for one of the original six classic KISS records, Hotter Than Hell is, according to me, the weakest of the bunch. That said, its still a pretty solid offering, featuring the classics, Parasite, the title cut, and Let Me Go, Rock and Roll. Meanwhile, the album is boosted by deeper cuts, Goin’ Blind, Comin’ Home, and Got to Choose.
Best Song: Goin’ Blind
Best Deep Cut: Goin’ Blind
The best KISS album that nobody talks about, Creatures features Stanley, Simmons, Vinnie Vincent, and Eric Carr. A few hits here, such as the title cut, I Love it Loud, and I Still Love You. More obscure tracks worth a listen are, Keep Me Comin,’ Rock and Roll Hell, and War Machine.
Best Song: I Still Love You
Best Deep Cut: Keep Me Comin’
KISS was touring behind this album when Alive II was recorded. Love Gun was the beginning of the end for the first tenure of the original band. It features Ace Frehley’s monster hit, Shock Me, as well as the title track, which is still a staple in the band’s live set.
Best Song: Shock Me
Best Deep Cut: I Stole Your Love
This is sort of an overlooked KISS classic, but still a strong record, nonetheless.
Best Song: Hard Luck Woman
Best Deep Cut: Take Me
Many consider this to be the best KISS album, and they have a strong argument. Featuring perhaps the best KISS song, Detroit Rock City, as well as the smash ballad, and the band’s only #1 song, Beth, Destroyer is KISS at their peak, especially considering that they were coming off the high of the KISS Alive album.
Best Song: Detroit Rock City
Best Deep Cut: King of the Nighttime World
Other than the anthem, Rock and Roll All Nite, there is little else in the way of a hit song on this album, and perhaps that’s why it is so damn good. Classic rock radio hasn’t ruined it. Room Service, Two Timer, Rock Bottom, C’mon and Love Me, and She are amazing songs that never get skipped over when this fantastic album is in my player.
Best Song: C’mon and Love Me
Best Deep Cut: C’mon and Love Me
For the second week in a row, I have identified, in my mind, that the band’s best album is their first. And for the second week in a row, the band still went on to have an enormous career. I love this record for its rawness, another similarity to last week’s band, Motley Crue, on its first couple of albums. There is not a weak track among the ten offered, with Strutter, Nothin’ to Lose, Firehouse, and 100,000 Years joining more popular hits, Cold Gin, Deuce, and Black Diamond as the main highlights.
Best Song: Black Diamond
Best Deep Cut: Strutter