Kiss "Destroyer" Classic Review

Originally in The Oklahoma Daily on October 24th, 2007.

It’s easy to write off the band Kiss as simply a gimmick. Its makeup, costumes and a constant barrage of pyrotechnics seem to be a bit of a put-off for true music fans.

But beneath their comic book schtick, the band uses excellent songwriting to create some great rock anthems, many of which appear on 1976’s “Destroyer.”

With 1975’s “Alive,” the band broke into the mainstream, mostly owing to that album’s ability to capture the band’s spectacular live show. On “Destroyer,” the band could have easily tried to recreate that concert experience in the studio, but instead went the opposite route. They employed Pink Floyd/Alice Cooper producer Bob Ezrin, who brought with him an array of sound effects, an orchestra and a boys’ choir.

The album begins with the iconic “Detroit Rock City,” which tells the tale of a real Kiss fan who died in a car accident on his way to a Kiss concert — presumably by rocking out too much. The song’s massive arena-rock guitars and fist-pumping chorus are instantly recognizable.

Heavy bass lines and Gene Simmons’ raspy growl make up “God of Thunder,” a song that has since become Simmons’ theme song. When played live, it is during this song that Simmons — also known as “The Demon” — breathes fire and spits blood.

The middle of the album sags a bit. “Great Expectations,” “Flaming Youth” and “Sweet Pain” all seem terribly dated and ultimately become forgettable.

Things pick back up for the last third of the record, however. “Shout It Out Loud” is another instantly recognizable classic. Then there is the ballad “Beth” — the song was originally the B-side to “Detroit Rock City” and was never intended to be a single, but listeners began requesting the tune on the radio, and eventually it became the band’s first top 10 hit.