I'm a 25-year-old metalhead, and yet, I'm just now getting into Kiss. I'm finding that there is a pile of fun, catchy rock songs buried beneath all of the merchandise. Now, I am no die-hard. I'm not a member of the Kiss Army. I'm barely a member of the Kiss National Guard. However, I feel that I'm schooled enough to know that Sonic Boom isn't up to snuff. Paul and Gene have been blathering nonstop about how "70's" this record sounds, but I hear more of an 80's vibe. Every song - with the notable exception of "Modern Day Delilah," the first single that was sent on a mission to hoodwink the gullible populace - is glazed in a glossy ectoderm. The guys may not have used Pro-Tools on this bloated bleachjob, but it's still overproduced.

First, let me list the things I like about Sonic Boom. I don't hate this album. I like the fact that...
  • There are no outside songwriters.
  • There are no weepy ballads.
  • All four members can sing their asses off (yes, even The Demon).
  • The disc opens and closes on a high note ("Delilah" and "Say Yeah," respectively).
By and large, that's where my gallantry ends. The songs themselves rock, but they all sound the same. Mid-tempo verse, mid-tempo chorus, repeat, above-average guitar solo, multi-tracked chorus...repeat. I wasn't expecting anything progressive, but the best Kiss albums are varied. The lyrics are aggravatingly dopey. Again, I knew what I was popping into my CD player, but they didn't even try this time around. From what I can tell, most of the songs aren't about anything. Take "When Lightning Strikes," for instance. Tommy Thayer could have called this one "Stuff About the Sky and Stormy Weather."

Speaking of Thayer, he smokes on lead guitar. He hasn't reinvented the axe, but his solos are full of energy and melody. Eric Singer, the other "actor," pounds the skins with conviction. His vocals on "All For the Glory" are surprisingly tuneful. He should have had more mic time on the album. The huge anthems I've referenced by title are the only memorable cuts here, even the dreary "Lightning." 'Tis a shame. I wanted to love Sonic Boom. I wanted to blast it in my van and feel like a badass motherfucker. Sadly, I can only do that with Creatures of the Night, Destroyer, Dressed to Kill, Lick it Up, and all of the other classic Kiss records.

It seems that I'm in the minority. The fans are mainly gratified, the press has been kind thus far, and the record sales speak for themselves. I will say this; Sonic Boom has effectively renewed my interest in the band. I'm actually beginning to respect Gene Simmons. I can't believe I just typed that.

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