Review Summary: the unexpected gem
80’s were certainly a tough time for Kiss. As a matter of fact, every time after their classic era (up until Alive II) lives under the shadow of their most glorious years, and rightfully so. From Dynasty
on, the dudes chose to shift their sound into a disco-friendly style, and for most of the fans, the band lost some of its genuine appeal. Let alone, 1981’s Music from the Elder
was too much for their followers and critics alike, pointed (probably a bit unfairly) like an all-time low not only for Kiss but for music overall.
However, Kiss was a great band, and there is one gem that stands out in all of their post 70’s catalogue, and that one is Creatures of the Night
, of course. An album that was certainly an (unexpected") return to their hard rock roots, even harder than ever before.
With Peter Criss already out, Ace Frehley was also with one foot out by 1982. Vinnie Vincent (who would also perform on Lick it Up) takes the guitar duties here, although Ace still features the cover only for commercial issues. Not as fully unleashed as on Lick it Up
but still with a touch of his own, Vincent does a great job here. His guitar playing is more aggressive than Ace’s, and it helps to make a heavier album than your average Kiss record.
By this time Simmons and Stanley are certainly the true leaders of the band (they always were, but without Frehley and Criss this is much more notorius) and they took the songwriting duties. I must say that Creatures of the Night is arguably the only Kiss album where Simmons songs are overall better than Stanley’s. Plus, he really exceeds not only on vocals but with a neat bass work, some of his very best, as shown better on the bass-driven song Rock and Roll Hell
. Stanley’s vocals are as great as usual, especially on the epic ballad I Still Love You
, probably the best Kiss ballad ever.
The production contributes to the overall ominous feel this albums gives, the drums are very powerful and they really help to create the darkest sound a Kiss album could ever have. This, added to the aforementioned solid guitar work and outstanding vocals make a killer formula which it’s result is one of the best Kiss albums.
To be fair enough, I have to point out that Creatures
is not really consistent all the way. Particularly, Keep Me Comin and Saint and Sinner are intrascendent at best, and certainly weak compared to beasts like War Machine, Creatures of the Night
or I Love It Loud
. Anyway, the overall experience is not ruined by this.
Stepping away from the classic Kiss era, and delving deeper into their wide catalogue, there is definitely one album not to miss, and that one is Creatures of the Night
. Not even their “comeback” Psycho Circus
with the classic line-up, or the decent follow up Lick it up
can match this one. There is no need to be a Kiss fan to enjoy their 1982 offer, an excellent record that stands well on its own within this band classic albums.