'Just guitar and drums; nothing else': Gene Simmons on Kiss' new album Monster

Co-founder Gene Simmons says Kiss’ 20th studio album will be a lean, heavy-rocking affair, much in keeping with their earliest sides. Monster, due in July 2012, is the group’s initial release since Sonic Boom three years ago, and will again be produced by fellow co-founder Paul Stanley.

Of course, this being Kiss, there will be plenty of product tie ins between then and now — including, but not limited to, a massive new 10-hour DVD project, a new comic book series, the Kiss golf course in New York and an assortment of items designed in conjunction with the Hello Kitty line. Kiss has already announced a co-headlining tour with Motley Crue, as well — the first time these two heavy metal icons have shared a stage since 1982. Simply called “The Tour,” it will begin in Bristow, Va., on July 20, with each band playing a 90-minute set.

[SOMETHING ELSE! REWIND: The Top 5 bands not in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame include Kiss, Rush, Heart, Yes and Jethro Tull.]

But what about, you know, the album? Simmons is thrilled with the results.

Monster is “either the best or one of the top three records we’ve ever done,” Simmons tells Billboard. “It’s like ‘Revenge’ meets ‘Destroyer’ — just guitar and drums, nothing else. No keyboards, no little boys’ choir, no strings, no nothing. Band-written; literally we’d get in and strum guitars like the old days.”

The album is be accompanied by an appropriately monstrous art book of the same name, which “should weigh 100 pounds or more,” according to Simmons. “It’s something you can’t put on your coffee table, ’cause it’ll crush it. It IS the coffee table.”

Here’s a look back at our recent thoughts on Kiss and Motley Crue. Click through the titles for complete reviews …

SOMETHING ELSE! FEATURED ARTIST: KISS: News that Kiss is back in the studio, working toward the 2012 release of a new project called Monster, got us scurrying back to our old album collections. And not just because of those fond memories of playing air guitar with former guitarist Ace Frehley during Kiss Alive. Bassist/vocalist Gene Simmons said something interesting about the sessions: “This new record feels heavier than (2009’s) Sonic Boom. It feels like a connection between Destroyer and Revenge. Those were but two of the favorites we discussed here.

FORGOTTEN SERIES: MOTLEY CRUE – MOTLEY CRUE (1994): John Corabi, former vocalist of The Scream, brought a second guitar and a gruff, ragged edge to the vocals. It was a stark contrast to Neil’s high-pitched tones, and though I may earn the ire of many Motley Crue fans — one that lives with me, included — by saying this, Neil’s vocals can’t touch what’s on this record. Corabi’s voice also brought a rougher, heavier edge to the music. Though many Motley Crue fans dislike the album because of Neil’s absence, no one can deny that it’s the band’s heaviest and most mature record — mature, of course, being a relative term where Motley Crue is involved. Lyrically, the songs are still littered with drug references and party themes, but musically, there’s a definite growth.

FORGOTTEN SERIES: KISS – REVENGE (1992): There is one non-makeup Kiss record that certainly belongs in the conversation with the band’s best work. Released in 1992, Revenge came on the tail of two snoozers — 1987’s Crazy Nights and 1989’s Hot in the Shade — that were completely lost in the keyboard-laden, ballad-heavy 1980s radio rock sound. Revenge, though, was a different beast. There were still plenty of mindless sex and party anthems. It wouldn’t be a Kiss record without those. But there was a darker, heavier edge to the album, which was loaded with Gene Simmons’ gruffer vocals.

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Dates for 2012’s “The Tour,” featuring Kiss and Motley Crue:
Jul 20: Bristow, VA – Jiffy Lube Live
Jul 21: Virginia Beach, VA – Farm Bureau Live at Virginia Beach
Jul 22: Raleigh, NC – Time Warner Cable Music Pavilion at Walnut Creek
Jul 24: Atlanta, GA – Aaron’s Amphitheatre at Lakewood
Jul 25: Charlotte, NC – Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre
Jul 27: West Palm Beach, FL – Cruzan Amphitheater
Jul 28: Tampa, FL – 1-800-ASK-GARY Amphitheatre
Jul 31: Pelham, AL – Oak Mountain Amphitheatre
Aug 3: Houston, TX – Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
Aug 4: Dallas, TX – Gexa Energy Pavillion
Aug 7: Albuquerque, NM – Hard Rock Casino Presents The Pavilion
Aug 8: Englewood, CO – Comfort Dental Amphitheatre
Aug 10: Phoenix, AZ – Ashley Furniture HomeStore Pavilion
Aug 11: Las Vegas, NV – Mandalay Bay Arts Center
Aug 12: Chula Vista, CA – Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre
Aug 14: Irvine, CA – Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
Aug 16: Concord, CA – Sleep Train Pavilion at Concord
Aug 18: Auburn, WA – White River Amphitheatre
Aug 19: Ridgefield, WA – Sleep Country Amphitheater
Aug 24: Grand Junction, CO – Rock Jam
Aug 26: Tulsa, OK – BOK Center (on-sale 3/30)
Aug 27: Maryland Heights, MO – Verizon Wireless Amphitheater
Aug 29: Minneapolis, MN – Minnesota State Fair (on-sale 3/31)
Aug 31: Cincinnati, OH – Riverbend MusicCenter
Sep 1: Noblesville, IN – Klipsch Music Center
Sep 2: Pittsburgh, PA – First Niagra Pavilion
Sep 4: Nashville, TN – Bridgestone Arena
Sep 5: Clarkston, MI – DTE Energy Music Theatre
Sep 7: Tinley Park, IL – First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre
Sep 8: East Troy, WI – Alpine Valley Music Theatre
Sep 11: Allegan, MI – Allegan County Fair (on-sale 5/5)
Sep 12: Cleveland, OH – Blossom Music Center
Sep 13: Toronto, ON – Molson Canadian Amphitheatre
Sep 15: Darien Center, NY – Darien Lake Performing Arts Center
Sep 16: Mansfield, MA – Comcast Center
Sep 18: Scranton, PA – Toyota Pavilion at Montage Mountain
Sep 19: Camden, NJ – Susquehanna Bank Center
Sep 21: Holmdel, NJ – PNC Bank Arts Center
Sep 22: Wantagh, NY – Nikon at Jones Beach Theater
Sep 23: Hartford, CT – Comcast Theatre

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The Something Else! webzine, an accredited Google News affiliate, has been featured in The New York Times and NPR.com's A Blog Supreme, while our writers have also been published by USA Today, Jazz.com and UltimateClassicRock.com, among others. Contact Something Else! at reviews@somethingelsereviews.com.
  • Fred Phillips

    “Revenge meets Destroyer” would be awesome. You’ll note that I’m not turning blue from holding my breath, though. I’ve heard their last two records.

  • memphismike

    Revenge and Destroyer, both produced by Bob Ezrin I might add, were solid releases. Sonic Boom was a nice surprise as well. I am looking forward to Monster and glad KISS is doing new music. That is most important to me as a fan

  • Fred Phillips

    Revenge and Destroyer are definitely my two favorite Kiss records. Sonic Boom just didn’t do much for me. To me, it sounded like them trying to make a record that sounded like their ’70s selves and it just didn’t connect with me.

    I totally agree about them making new music, though. For the longest time there, it seemed that the only thing you’d never be able to buy with the Kiss logo on it was a new record.