Review Summary: Probably the most mature album KISS ever did musically. Great guitar work, great drums, good vocals, good songs. Few low points on the album, and it's a shame KISS didn't put out a few more albums with this edgier attitude they had on here.
KISS on Revenge:
Paul Stanely: Lead Vocals, Guitar
Bruce Kulick: Guitars and Leads
Eric Singer: Drums and Backing Vocals
Gene Simmons: Lead Vocals, Bass
Eric Carr: Drums and Bass on track 12, Backing Vocals on Track 5
A little history lesson to start off...
KISS formed back in 1973. Co-founders Paul Stanely and Gene Simmons were in another band called Wicked Lester but the two "fired" the other members due to creative differences and soon replaced them with lead guitarist Ace Frehley and drummer Peter Criss and have been rockin strong ever since. KISS reached the hight of their popularity in the mid 70's after the success of Alive! and a bunch of studio albums. KISS became a household name. But in 1980 drummer Peter Criss left the band to pursue solo aspirations. He was replaced by Eric Carr, and a few years later Ace Frehley would leave the band as well. KISS then took off the makeup and had a handful of guitarists for a few years before setteling on Bruce Kulick to become the new permanant member of the band.
After a string of succesful ablums in the 80's KISS was on a high they hadn't had since the 70's. But in 1991, right before the making of this album, drummer Eric Carr became ill and died of cancer. He was replaced by Eric Singer for this album and is dedicated to the memory of Eric Carr.
As you can imagine this album was made during a very emotional time for the band. But KISS was determined to push on and the result, in my opinion, is the best studio album they ever put out. That's not sayin too much because most of their studio albums were whipped up in a short amount of time to just fuel their bombastic live shoes. But what you have here is a complete record. The songs are still catchy and somewhat cheesy, but it's definately a step up from their 80's stuff.
Revenge just takes on a whole different personality then stuff they had previous done. Throughout the 80's KISS was a hair band, wearing flashy colors and outfits and putting out some sub-par pop music. But Revenge has an attitude to it that they hadn't had before. For example, Unholy is quite possibly the heaviest song KISS has ever done. It almost comes across as an updated version of God of Thunder, the opening riff is pretty heavy and Gene's vocals are top notch for a change. The opening heavy riff leads this song along and Bruce Kulick adds a great solo, something you'll find a lot of on Revenge.
There's some pretty interesting old style rock songs. They sort of tell a story (usually about a girl and stuff they wanna do to her) but songs like Spit and Domino are just dirty fun rock songs with great guitar playing. Domino is the story of a girl who is "too young to vote" but Gene apparently has an interest in her anyways, the riff is very catchy as well and feature a nice solo by Bruce. Gene talks the verses which works very well. Spit has Paul and Gene trading off vocal duties on the verses which works pretty well i. This is probably the dirtiest song on the album lyric wise (the bigger the cushion the better the pushin) but yeah it's a pretty fun song. I will also say that I think Bruce Kulick is better than Ace Frehley technically, I still love Ace but Bruce is just a better player overall. Of course there has to be a ballad, which usually spells trouble for KISS, but the ballad is probably the best one KISS has ever done. Every Time I Look at You is a very touching song about Paul wanting his love back or something. As cheesy as KISS ballads are, i can't help myself but to like them. Another strong solo by Bruce probably helped me like it a little better.
But of course there are some flaws. Some of the songs just sort of blend together and you can't really tell them apart. Take it Off, Tough Love, Heart of Chrome, all good songs but they all resemble each other too much. They all have the same structure, don't get me wrong it's a good structure, but it just get's a little repetitive. Thou Shall Not is definately the low point on Revenge. It's just Gene saying "Oh look at me, i'm such a hard ass, i only go by my own rules", you know a typical Gene song. The music is pretty bland too.
Though Eric Carr died before the album he does contribute to two tracks, cooh huh" On God Gave Rock n Roll to You, a song made for a soundtrack (i forget to what movie) he provides backing vocals, he also appeared in the video, looking as though he was playing the drums even though Eric Singer acutally did the drumming on the song. This song I think is a cover (don't hold me to that) with different lyrics and is very good. Every knows about Rock N Roll all Nite, but GGRNRTY blows it outta the water. It builds up and the breakdown part in the middle with Eric Carr singing is beautiful, knowing that he has passed on. Definately a highlight. Then there's the final track, Carr Jam 1981. This was recorded in the year the title implies. The song includes a nifty drum solo in the middle of it. It originally had Eric Carr doing the bass and drums and Ace Frehley and Paul Stanely playing guitars. But for this recording Bruce Kulick overdubbed the guitars. The riff in the song actually appears in an Ace Frehley song he did as a solo artist, Breakout. But yeah, the song has a sweet riff and some good soloing by Bruce. The drum solo is also impressive as well, a very nice way to salute a great drummer.
To sum it all up Revenge is an excellent record. Yeah I'm a KISS fan and my opinion may not be valid but hey I tried not to be too biased. I think this is a very overlooked album and is definately worth a listen. This is my first review so I know there's a lot for me to improve on, but yeah helpful suggestions are appreciated, thanx.
God Gave Rock N Roll To You