Despite the naysayers, I bloody love KISS. Sure their image is the first thing you notice but what an image it is. The tongue-wagging, blood-spitting Demon. The strutting, preaching Star Child. The smoking, rocket-firing Spaceman. And the Catman. The imagery is iconic and a great representation of the personalities in the band and on stage – PHWOAR. Larger than life. Rock Stars with capital letters.
A lot of the big hits are regrettably overdone, but seriously, what a collection of songs. As if you don’t sing along to ‘Shout It Out Loud’ or shout the second line to the ‘Rock n Roll All Night’ chorus. The intro to ‘Love Gun’ is genius. The KISS songs that really get me pumped though are the hard ones. When KISS rock they really rock with fat riffs, slick solos and huge drums.
So in celebration of their final Australian tour (and on top of our interview with the one and only Tommy Thayer), I gift to you some of my favourite heavy tunes from Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons and Co.
‘I Stole Your Love’
A cracking set opener with Stanley in top form. KISS don’t often play this fast and I wish they did more ‘cause this one rules.
Rollicking guitars and a thrusting bass line are the highlights of this live favourite from their debut album. The production is a bit thin and the lyrics are nonsense but it’s a damn good time. Covered by Bathory of all bands.
A sick riff from Ace Frehley, with Simmons singing Ace’s lyrics. A guitar player’s song. Anthrax covered it as a B-side.
It’s all about the riff on this one, though the vocal harmonies are pretty good too. Anthrax recognised this as a metal song and covered this one too in 1994.
‘God of Thunder’
Stanley wrote this and gave it to Simmons to sing. He embodies the lyrical role and Bob Ezrin’s spooky sound effects add to the dark mood. Covered by metal bands all over, from Death to Entombed to White Zombie.
Ace Frehley’s sole vocal contribution to Music From The Elder has a great set of licks and a cool chorus. Not the heaviest song but you’ll enjoy it if you dig Rainbow or late 70s Black Sabbath. Co-written with Lou Reed (decades before he wrote with Metallica).
‘Creatures of the Night’
Peter Criss was out and Eric Carr was in and the drum sound got HUGE. An 80s metal drum fill kicks it off and it hardly lets up. Stanley sounds reignited too after the misstep that was concept album Music from the Elder.
Another one from Creatures of the Night, this time with Simmons fired up and taking on another side to his Demon persona. Killer intro, used by Taz in Extreme Championship Wrestling as his entrance theme. Covered by Amon Amarth as a bonus track.
‘Heaven’s on Fire’
With Gene Simmons pursuing an acting career, Paul Stanley held the fort on Animalize and pursued a glam metal direction with Mark St John on lead guitar and Desmond Child (Bon Jovi’s co-writer) helping with compositions. This one just rocks with sweaty lyrics.
‘No, No, No’
A showcase for guitarist Bruce Kulick with some serious leads. Co-written with Carr and finished by Simmons, it’s a blues meets glam rager.
Kiss try for speed metal with Motley Crüe style hooks. Another Kulick/Simmons collaboration that closes the otherwise pop/rock Hot in the Shade.
Simmons is at his best when the song lets him be demonic. There isn’t a heavier song in the Kiss canon with Simmons spitting lines like “you sold your children to war to serve bastards and whores”.
‘Rock n Roll All Nite’ (Alive III version)
The Revenge Tour in 1992 saw a few changes to the setlist as KISS enjoyed a bit of a resurgence in pop culture. The traditional closing anthem, ‘Rock N Roll All Nite’, was pushed up the setlist and given a faster tempo thanks to new drummer Eric Singer.
The reunion (with makeup back on) turned into a circus and at least produced this great song. A lot of energy, a powerhouse Stanley vocal and that great middle section that slows it down before it explodes into the final chorus.
‘Detroit Rock City’
Don’t let the “get up…” chorus fool you. This song is about a KISS fan dying in a car accident on the way to a show. Dark stuff. Legendary guitar harmony too.
‘Hell or Hallelujah’
Probably the last great KISS song, from their final album Monster. The tempo is fast, with Tommy Thayer’s high octane riffing threatening to send drivers off the road. Lyrically great too with lots of singalong parts. Notably, the album features a little Simmons number called ‘Wall of Sound’.
KISS – End Of The Road World Tour
Saturday 20 August @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne – SOLD OUT Sunday 21 August @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne – SOLD OUT
Tuesday 23 August @ Rod Laver Arena, Melbourne
Friday 26 August @ Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney
Saturday 27 August @ Qudos Bank Arena, Sydney
Tuesday 30 August @ Adelaide Entertainment Centre, Adelaide
Friday 2 September @ RAC Arena, Perth
Tuesday 6 September @ Brisbane Entertainment Centre, Bris – SOLD OUT
Saturday 10 September @ CBUS Super Stadium, Gold Coast