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KISS: Sonic Boom

Like an old friend you haven't heard from in a long time that suddenly reappears, you might be able to forget some of their current faults while reminiscing with them about days gone by. Such is the case with Kiss and their latest offering Sonic Boom. It is by no means the best effort they have done but it is not without its merits too. Especially after listening to it a few times, there is a sense of where they are coming from and what they are trying to do with this album.

Looking back over the 35 year history of the band, it is clear that they have always been a group that keeps reinventing itself. This album is no exception. With new players Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer, not only does the new blood contribute to a different sound, they are also instrumental in making sure that this incarnation of Kiss is one that will keep the legions of fans happy. This pair is a fine addition as Thayer finally gets a chance to show off his guitar abilities and they are strong right from the first solo on the opening rocker "Modern Day Delilah." He also gets a chance to stretch the vocal chords when Gene and Paul give him a shot at the mic with "When Lightning Strikes". Singer proves that he is a very capable drummer throughout the disc and also has a very good singing voice when he takes the lead on "All For The Glory". All in all the new guys contibute a lot to a new attitude that permeates this disc.

I have read plenty about this album and how much of it doesn't sound like Kiss. I have to wonder just what their sound is when you are talking about a group that has gone from blistering metal on songs like "100,000 Years" and "She" to ballads like "Beth" and "Hard Luck Woman" then moved to whatever you might call "I Was Made For Lovin' You" and "Shandi". Their sound seems to be whatever they want it to be at the moment. So it should come as no surprise at all when they switch gears a few times on their most recent offering. Here you get a little bit of old school Kiss "Russian Roulette" and "Hot And Cold", a dash of AOR with "Stand" and of course those fist pumping anthems like "Say Yeah."

The second disc in this set from Walmart is called Kiss Klassics and is 15 of their standards all re-recorded with the new members. I would bet that these come from rehearsals for the new tour to help familiarize the new guys with the set list and their parts. Most of the songs have just some minor tweaking and of course new vocals that are especially noticeable on the Peter Criss songs. All in all this is a good update but it is mostly for the long time fans.

The DVD is 6 six classic Kiss songs taken from a concert in Buenos Aires. These have been seen and heard many times before and are once again something for the avid collector. The major difference is that you get to see the new stage set up which is almost as big a part of the band as their music.

All in all this is easily a package worth the $12 it cost. The new music is not earth shattering but I have found that as with many Kiss songs, they are easy to remember and the cheesy lyrics and repetitive anthem like choruses will get stuck in your brain. Take it from someone who was at Cobo Hall in Detroit when the picture on the back of their Alive album was taken, this is pure Kiss. It is simple rock and roll that has great hooks and also some cool surprises along the way too.

Track listing

1. Modern Day Delilah
2. Russian Roulette
3. Never Enough
4. Yes I Know (Nobody's Perfect)
5. Stand
6. Hot And Cold
7. All For The Glory
8. Danger Us
9. I'm An Animal
10. When Lightning Strikes
11. Say Yeah

Disc 2 (Kiss Klassics)

1. Deuce
2. Detroit Rock City
3. Shout It Out Loud
4. Hotter Than Hell
5. Calling Dr Love
6. Love Gun
7. I Was Made For Lovin' You
8. Heaven's On Fire
9. Lick It Up
10. I Love It Loud
11. Forever
12. Christine Sixteen
13. Do You Love Me
14. Black Diamond
15. Rock And Roll All Nite

DVD

1. Deuce
2. Hotter Than Hell
3. C'mon And Love Me
4. Watchin' You
5. 100,000 Years
6. Rock And Roll All Nite

Added: November 9th 2009
Reviewer: Scott Ward
Score:
Related Link: Band's Official Site
Hits: 1258
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

KISS: Sonic Boom
Posted by Scott Jessup, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-11-09 06:18:55
My Score:

I was only thinking recently how in 2009 I hadn't regretted any of my music purchases, well that changed when I got the new Kiss CD Sonic Boom. It has been a while since Psycho Circus, an album that while patchy still had positives, such as the title track. Sonic Boom does also have its moments, opening strong with "Modern Day Delilah", but it's a shame that strength in material wasn't maintained.

The re-recorded tracks on the bonus CD really offer nothing special, I prefer the feel of the originals; however the short live DVD on the other hand shows Kiss are still impressive live performers. Respected drummer Eric Singer of course being involved with the band on and off for quite a while now, that is since the early nineties, and guitarist Tommy thayer who has been a member since 2002, so this stable line-up do gel well on stage.

Sonic Boom is one for the die-hard fans, who now finally have new music from Kiss, myself like many others I grew up listening to Kiss, with and without the make-up and through lineup changes, but I do think their best songs have come and gone. In the end it doesn't really matter though, as with the name Kiss on the cover Sonic Boom will no doubt sell by the truck load.

KISS: Sonic Boom
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-10-09 15:20:37
My Score:

KISS fans have waited eleven years for the band to release a new studio album and "Sonic Boom" is finally here and proves to be a major musical upgrade from their last effort "Psycho Circus". The aforementioned release was done by a reunited KISS but it didn't feel as though the songwriting was done together whereas "Sonic Boom" seems to have been written by the band together and recorded in the same fashion. Despite the absence of original members Ace Frehley and Peter Criss who are no longer a part of the equation I really was looking forward to the album and had high expectations of it even if some of my friends chose instead to rally against it. As a musical work, "Sonic Boom" does not bring the listener a continuation of the experiments KISS had done in their career and there is no Disco, no Pop, no Grunge and nothing Alternative about it and instead the album brings you back in time to the days of releases like "Love Gun" or "Rock and Roll Over". While not comparing the albums to those venerated classics, it is clear that the musical format chosen was intended to be that which made the band popular in the first place and the whole thing starts off with the rocking opener "Modern Day Delilah". It's a nice and heavy track that finds Paul taking lead and driving the point home. Most of the record finds Gene and Paul exchanging tracks and to be honest I felt that Paul's were the strongest musically especially when it came to tunes like "Stand", "Never Enough", and "Say Yeah" but Gene does shine just a little bit on his own numbers with "Yes I Know (Nobody's Perfect)" and "I'm An Animal". At the end of the day the Paul tracks will be on the listeners lips a little easier and faster than the Gene ones and most would go over well in the concert sense just based on how powerful they are on the recording. I had to say that I felt this album was a lot more even in nature and how it flowed.

We also get tracks from Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer who each strut their vocal stuff on "When Lightning Strikes" and "All For The Glory". I've always felt that Eric had a good voice and it's nice to hear what he can do outside of the "Black Diamond" tune he does at concerts. Tommy sounds pretty good as well and had a raspier tone than I expected. The musicianship on the new release is sound and as mentioned brings us back to a simpler time in KISS' career. Tommy seems to be holding back just a little and is keeping his Ace-like riffs in the pocket and while he is a very capable drummer, Eric is keeping the groove in check with consistent playing with the occasional flair tossed in. I know I will hear it from some of my friends for being so behind the album but at the end of the day I love the whole KISS idea and what it brings to the table. While I would love to have a full original lineup recording and tour once again those days are over and the band moves on in order to continue to entertain the masses. As a release this is not a disappointment and seems to follow suit with the other bands whose newest releases and tours are focusing on the classic years of their own. The album comes care of KISS Records and is a Wal-Mart exclusive release that presents three discs. One CD of new music and another of re-recorded classics and a DVD with concert footage. Journey did the same thing last year via the same retailer and it was a tremendous success. Can a band as marketable as KISS find anything different happening for them? I think not, and now for some views on the other parts off the release.

KISS "Klassics": Deuce, Detroit Rock City, Shout It Out Loud, Hotter Than Hell, Calling Dr. Love, Love Gun, I Was Made For Lovin' You, Heaven's On Fire, Lick It Up, I Love It Loud, Forever, Christine Sixteen, Do You Love Me, Black Diamond, Rock and Roll All Nite.
*** This CD was originally released in Japan under the moniker of "KISSology" or "KISS Best" and its Japanese title was "Jigoku Retsuden". It is a healthy collection of the KISS back catalog classics all re-recorded by the bands lineup circa 2008. Some diehards are screaming about this claiming how the band is trying to erase their past but I don't view it like that since when Journey did their release they gave us a similar thing with their own newest lineup. I view it as a means to let people here how the songs might sound in concert today and in the end there is very subtle difference between these tunes and their original versions. As I listened I thought they were okay at best and didn't really capture the songs original fire all that much, and this was especially the case on the oldest tunes like "Deuce" and "Hotter Than Hell". It was cool to hear Eric singing "Black Diamond" on a studio version but I did not like "I Love It Loud" all that much or the redo of the anthem "Rock And Roll All Nite". Yes, they did write it, but some songs don't need to be remade under any circumstances. While three of the selections come from the legendary "Destroyer", KISS managed to cover a lot of album ground with these re-recordings by getting at least one track from a wide number of them. It should be noted that while there are some fifteen tunes presented on this disc that there are no Ace Frehley or Peter Criss penned songs reworked at all. Whether this was done out of respect to the former members or to avoid backlash from the public opinion we shall never know until Gene or Paul writes it down in a book. I view this as something the KISS fans will load onto their computers or music players and only return to listen to every now and again more than religiously. Why listen to remade classics when you have the original remastered collection and the many, many "Best Of" releases at the tip of your fingers. I know that is how I will be dealing with this, and I simply view it as another interesting chapter in the book of KISS history.

KISS "Live In Buenos Aires" DVD: Deuce, Hotter Than Hell, Come On & Love Me, Watchin' You, 100,000 Years, Rock and Roll All Nite.
*** I just love KISS live video releases and have quite a collection of the ones that are currently available so I really thought the inclusion of the DVD concert as a part of "Sonic Boom" was a good thing. The downside was that unlike the Journey concert which accompanied their 3 disc set, the KISS concert we get does not present the full show of the band and instead gives you only six songs from Buenos Aires. Content wise every song presented hails from the "Alive" concert album and that makes sense since the band is currently doing a show that showcases in full this classic live recording. While only about thirty minutes in length I did enjoy seeing the band performing in front of the massive crowd in Buenos Aires. When one sees the audience as the cameras pan over them there are clearly more than a couple of hundred thousand people present. With the new album and tour taking place I am sure that a full-length video will be in order sooner rather than later. KISS has been releasing "KISSology" sets, and while the third brought us closer to today's timeframe, there is always footage turning up when it comes to these guys. I look forward to this even if it has not been announced as something officially coming down the pike.

Let's talk about the packaging a little bit because with a band like KISS, one can expect a lot of cool images and graphics to enjoy. The albums art was designed by Michael Doret who did work with the band before on their "Rock & Roll Over" album so many years ago, and this artwork seems to be a slightly modern version of the same premise. The logo is obviously the classic but the words for "Sonic Boom" resemble some kind of video game graphic font and in each corner is an image of the band members that appear to be painted art as opposed to physical photos. Inside the deluxe edition it opens up to reveal Gene and Paul and when opened again we see Tommy and Eric. The art here is understated and nothing appears on the sleeves with the bonus discs. The booklet while some twenty pages I felt was a disappointment because even though it offers up lyrics to enjoy, there is only one band photo and the remaining four images are musical instruments. When a band like KISS gives me this many pages to peruse I want to see photos of the band more than anything else which comes off as fluff.

It's up to you as a KISS fan to decide whether or not you want to support them going forward despite any of the misgivings you might have about how they do things. If you choose to pass then I feel you are missing out on a solidly produced and good record. It was better than I had expected it to be and really delivered a lot of songs that do justice to their legacy material. Based on that one could not ask for anything more.


KISS: Sonic Boom
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2009-10-09 14:23:38
My Score:

Wasn't sure what to expect on this one, as I haven't been overly thrilled with any KISS output for quite some time (loved the 70's material, iffy on the 80's, and lost all interest in the 90's), but after hearing "Modern Day Delilah" just prior to the release of Sonic Boom I was more than a little intrigued. The end result is that Sonic Boom is a KISS album, chock full of memorable riffs and choruses, cliche ridden lyrics, some strong vocals and some not so strong. Though Stanley and Simmons are both well past their primes, they are still singing about topics that made them famous when they were in their 20's. Laughable you say? Well, you are probably right, and though we all know these guys are mostly in it for the money these days, Sonic Boom still is a lot of fun. Cuts like "Russian Roulette", "Say Yeah", "I'm An Animal", "All For the Glory", and "Modern Day Delilah" all have a sort of Love Gun meets Rock n Roll Over feel to them, and the rest of the tracks could have easily come from the Lick It Up or Creatures of the Night era. For many that will be a good thing, as this is easily the most rockin' the band has sounded in years.

Paul Stanley is in pretty good form vocally here, though Gene seems to have lost most of the snarl and menace from his voice that made his vocal pieces such heavy rock highlights in the old days. For the most part, he's somewhat old and tired sounding here, and missing that edge that made him the wildcard in the band back in their heyday. Tommy Thayer is the big surprise here, as his Ace Frehley styled riffs and leads really inject some of the 'old school KISS' feel into many of these songs, and Eric Singer's drum work is stellar as well, but then again, he's a true veteran and we all know how good of a drummer he is.

Production wise, Sonic Boom is decent, sort of what you'd expect from the band, including big vocals, big drums, lots of guitars, etc., though a slight additing of extra crunch to the guitars might have really made this a monster sounding release. The bonus disc of 'KISS KLASSICS' are re-recordings of some of their classics, and they work well for the most part, though I'm not sure how many KISS freaks will give these version repeated spins when the original versions are all in their collections. Personally, "Deuce", "Hotter Than Hell", "Shout It OUt Loud", and "Heavens on Fire" are a few of my favorites from the batch, but they are all well played and executed by the current band, if missing a little of the rawness that the original versions hold.

Add in a DVD of some live footage, and you have a really good bargain for $12.00, regardless of whether you like to shop at Wal-Mart or not. Sonic Boom may not ever be considered 'classic' KISS, but it's decent for what it is.


» Reader Comments:

KISS: Sonic Boom
Posted by ??? on 2009-10-08 10:35:35
My Score:

The production

Recording this cd in all analog was a very good move, but Paul does not always deliver on the production, mainly in the rhythm guitars. They tend to blend into the whole harmonic pitch of the cd without enough color to make them pop out. If he would have approached them the same way he did the leads, it would have been brilliant. It would not be a big deal if the rhythm guitars were not that important, but they are.

The songs

Not too bad for compositions written in 20 minutes or less. It is the delivery of the Thayer and more notably Singer who really propel this along. Singer is a true musician and probably is the best drummer (technically) that Kiss has had on the stool. The new Catman is improved.
Thayer works as well in terms of his intensity in rehashing Ace licks and he is much preferred over the all to white Bruce Kulick. Kiss has found someone who will clean their gutters, paint their houses and play every pre-approved note to their complete satisfaction. Tommy has a great attitude and no guitar player has ever paid such an accurate homage to the guitar work of Ace. The new Spaceman is improved.

The economics

This cd is self released on the newly formulated Kiss Records. They were able to get around distribution and just send the entire order to Wal-Mart (in lieu of advance payment, I'm sure!!). I can just see those sweatshops working overtime to produce those $5 T-shirts, $10 throws (they sure as hell are not blankets), and $10 Mr. Potato Heads? The funny thing is that you should only have to purchase Mr. P. one time as he used to have alternate interchangeable outfits and such-- not with Kiss. You are in it for $40 if your fool enough. Lastly, who could forget the cd package for $12. That is your best bet and the only thing on the product menu worth consuming. That is, if you can stand Kiss without choking on the cheese!




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