KISS unleashes a Monster: the Album, the Tour, the Merchandise!

"Monster" album cover
"Monster" album cover | Source
Artwork for "Hell or Hallelujah" single
Artwork for "Hell or Hallelujah" single | Source

"You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best!"

KISS is back, followed as always by the customary tidal wave of merchandising and hype. The legendary hard rock band - still fronted by Gene Simmons (bass/vocals) and Paul Stanley (guitar/vocals) after all these years - had a very busy 2012. Having recently completed a triumphant Summer concert tour across the U.S. with fellow hard rock survivors Motley Crue, the stage is now set for Monster, the latest KISS studio album, which hit stores via Universal Music Enterprises on October 9th in the United States. The KISS/Crue tour pairing was a reunion of sorts for the two bands, as Motley once opened for KISS on their Creatures of the Night tour way back in 1982, when the young Crue were supporting their debut album!!

Monster is the follow up to KISS' last studio album, 2009's Sonic Boom, which debuted on the U.S. Billboard charts at #2. Sonic Boom was the first new KISS studio album since 1998's Psycho Circus, and also the first to be recorded by the current lineup of KISS - Simmons, Stanley, guitarist Tommy Thayer (in the "Spaceman" position formerly held by Ace Frehley) and drummer Eric Singer (taking over the "Catman" role from Peter Criss), which has been performing together since Criss and Frehley left the band in the early 2000s. The first single from Monster, "Hell or Hallelujah," was released on July 2nd (July 3rd in the U.S.) and it immediately topped the Amazon UK and iTunes International singles charts as the KISS Army came out in droves to snap up the new song.

Official "Hell or Hallelujah" Lyric Video:

The Album...

The members of KISS began tracking the songs for Monster in April of 2011, and recording was completed in January of 2012. Gene Simmons described Monster's sound as "a mix of Destroyer and Revenge" - a comparison that should make the loyal KISS Army members happy, as those are two of the band's benchmark records. Simmons says that Monster would be "the next step to Sonic Boom - very similar, no ballads, no keyboards, no nothing - just straight-ahead rock." Like Sonic Boom, Monster was recorded on old-school, analog studio equipment as the band wanted to try to recapture the vibe of KISS' classic early records. No outside songwriters were employed; all of the tracks were written solely by the band members. To anyone who's followed KISS over the years, this was welcome news, as towards the end of the '70s and throughout the '80s the band was well known for bringing in "song doctors" to punch up their compositions, which led to a dilution of the trademark, classic KISS sound. On Sonic Boom, the band was back to doing what they do best - making good ol' fashioned loud rock and roll!

Cover of the Kiss Monster Book, with U.S. flag
Cover of the Kiss Monster Book, with U.S. flag | Source
Coming soon: KISS/"Family Guy" merch!
Coming soon: KISS/"Family Guy" merch! | Source
Monster Official Tour Magazine
Monster Official Tour Magazine | Source

The Merch...

Of course, no new KISS album release would be complete without an accompanying barrage of new KISS collectibles. KISS is well known for their mastery of merchandising, and the band has numerous goodies in the pipeline for 2012. The biggest and most ambitious of these is without a doubt the KISS Monster Book, a massive coffee table volume that even dwarfs their last foray into self-publishing, 1995's KISSTORY, which was a lavishly illustrated, 440 page hardcover that detailed the band's entire history up to that point. Limited to a printing of just 1000 copies worldwide, The KISS Monster Book (released in early July) promises to out-do Kisstory in size and scope. The website for the book promises that it's "Three Feet Tall and Two and a Half Feet Wide," "As Tall As a Guitar," and that it's packed with tons of never-before-seen photos from throughout KISS' history. Each hand-bound copy will be individually numbered and signed by all four band members and will feature the KISS "Monster" logo on the front accompanied by various flags of the world, representing the global reach of the KISS Army. The price tag for such a massive volume is equally massive - one of these babies will set you back a cool $4250. That is not a misprint, folks - that's FOUR THOUSAND, TWO HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS. Wow, and here I thought the $158.95 price tag for KISSTORY was steep!!

On a slightly more affordable note, KISS and the makers of the animated TV hit "Family Guy" have recently announced a partnership that will result in a variety of KISS-branded "Family Guy" merchandise. KISS has made several appearances (in animated form) on the show in the past and this deal will produce everything from t-shirts to bobble head dolls and "fine art" featuring the "Family Guy" cast in KISS makeup. I wonder if there'll be a Gene Simmons/"Loose Lois" action figure playset?

Don't have a spare four grand to drop for the coffee table book? Not a "Family Guy" fan? Fear not, KISS still has you covered! Fangoria magazine, the #1 source for horror and science-fiction related fan publications, released the official Monster tour magazine in July, just in time for the band's road jaunt with the Crue. As you might expect, the Monster tour mag is packed with tons of full color photos, exclusive interviews and other info. The mag was made available on newsstands nationwide, as well as at the merchandise stand at each stop on the KISS/Crue tour. With a cover price of $10.99, it's cheaper than a t-shirt!

"Monster Book" Hype Video:


"Destroyer" Redux...

To further stoke the flames of hype, KISS released an all new, remastered edition of their classic 1976 breakthrough album Destroyer on August 21 via Universal Music. Repackaged and re-titled Destroyer Resurrected, this all new edition was painstakingly remixed by the album's original producer, Bob Ezrin, and features an alternate cover painting. This artwork by renowned fantasy artist Ken Kelly was intended for the original Destroyer release but was rejected by the record company for being "too controversial" at the time. This "new" cover still shows the band members in the familiar Destroyer pose, but against a different background and wearing different costumes than in the image that has become iconic to KISS fans over the years.

Extra goodies on this reissue include an alternate take of the album track "Sweet Pain" that features a different guitar solo, and a newly discovered rendition of the classic hit "Beth" with an extra "forgotten vocal piece" that was cut from the final album version. This writer honestly was hoping that we might get a few extra non-album tracks (like the long-lost Peter Criss song "Ain't None Of Your Business," which was demo'd for Destroyer in 1976 but didn't make the cut for the album) but fans will want to add this piece of KISStory to their collections nonetheless.

Bring on the Monster!!

Obviously KISS fans have much to look forward to over the next few months - with the band continuing to destroy concert venues worldwide on a nightly basis, to the new album, to tons of new, cool KISS junk to decorate their living rooms. This long time fanboy will have to pass on the Monster Book (if I spent four grand on that, my wife would divorce me in a heartbeat!) but I definitely will not be missing out on the new album. To my fellow members of the KISS Army, here's to ya, and to the detractors - if it's too loud, then you're too old!

Promotional Poster for the Summer 2012  KISS/Motley Crue tour
Promotional Poster for the Summer 2012 KISS/Motley Crue tour | Source

Git some KISS!

KISS Select discography:

KISS - Casablanca, 1974

Hotter Than Hell - Casablanca, 1974

Dressed To Kill - Casablanca, 1975

Alive! - Casablanca, 1975

Destroyer - Casablanca, 1976

Rock and Roll Over - Casablanca, 1976

Love Gun - Casablanca, 1977

Alive II - Casablanca, 1977

Peter Criss (solo album) - Casablanca, 1978

Ace Frehley (solo album) - Casablanca, 1978

Gene Simmons (solo album) - Casablanca, 1978

Paul Stanley (solo album) - Casablanca, 1978

Double Platinum - Casablanca, 1978

Dynasty - Casablanca, 1979

Unmasked - Casablanca, 1980

Music From "The Elder" - Casablanca, 1981

Killers - Mercury, 1982

Creatures of the Night - Mercury, 1982

Lick It Up - Mercury, 1983

Animalize - Mercury, 1984

Asylum - Mercury, 1985

Crazy Nights - Mercury, 1987

Smashes, Thrashes & Hits - Mercury, 1988

Hot in the Shade - Mercury, 1989

Revenge - Mercury, 1992

Alive III - Mercury, 1993

MTV Unplugged - Mercury, 1996

You Wanted the Best, You Got the Best! - Mercury, 1996

Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions - Mercury, 1997

Psycho Circus - Mercury, 1998

KISS Symphony: Alive IV - Sanctuary, 2003

Sonic Boom - KISS Records, 2009

Destroyer Resurrected - Universal, 2012

Monster - Universal, 2012

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Comments 27 comments

FreedomMetal profile image

FreedomMetal 4 years ago from Somewhere In Time

I think I will skip the Monster book, a bit out of my price range!!!!! I want to go to the KISS/Crue show but the tickets are so expensive and I've already blown my concert budget for the year in Maiden shows - lol!!!!!!

Georgie Lowery profile image

Georgie Lowery 4 years ago from Slaton, Texas USA

Ha! KISS is one of my guilty pleasures. I've rocked out to their music for decades. I didn't even know that they had a new album coming. Thank you for the info!

Kaili Bisson profile image

Kaili Bisson 4 years ago from Canada

I love the interlock with Family Guy! I had no idea about the new album either, and September in Toronto gives me time to recover from all the music festivals going on right now. Thank you FFC!

cryptid profile image

cryptid 4 years ago from Earth

Nice Hub. I agree with FreedomMetal that these shows are so darn expensive now. I miss the days when these bands knew their fans didn't have any money.

1982 . . .Creatures of the Night . . . young Motley Crue. ~sigh~ What happened to the years?

FreedomMetal profile image

FreedomMetal 4 years ago from Somewhere In Time

The same seats I paid $90 for me and my son to see KISS 2 years are now $250...... Thankfully Maiden keeps ORCH PIT and GA down around $90!

FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State Author

I hear ya, Freedom... I was excited for this tour till I heard the ticket prices and said "Forget it." Back in 1996 I paid a mere $39.50 to see the ORIGINAL KISS at Madison Square Garden!!

Thanks to all for your comments thus far! Glad to see I'm not the only KISS fanboy around these parts.

TheHeavyReview profile image

TheHeavyReview 4 years ago

Cool stuff! I particularly like that they're going on tour with Motley Crue- makes me want to go see them both. I didn't know they were making a new album, so thanks for the info! Great job, as always!

FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State Author

Thanx THR! Glad I could be of service!

OldWitchcraft profile image

OldWitchcraft 4 years ago from The Atmosphere

I love KISS! It was the first large concert I ever saw. I'm pleased to see that they are pairing up with Motley Crue, too.

I haven't been to a concert in many years because of my security issues (I don't take molestation and abuse well), but the thrill was wearing off anyway because for a time, they were putting metal bands with off-beat weird genres, maybe in an attempt to bolster interest in them. It attracted a weird and unruly crowd. I went to my last great concerts in Europe a few years ago because they didn't do this and they didn't molest people.

FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State Author

I hear ya, OldWitchcraft... it's been a number of years since I've been to a concert myself. Too many drunks/numb nuts in the crowds these days. I guess I'm getting too old to rock n' roll. (Gasp! Horror!)

FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State Author

Updated with a YouTube of the new single, "Hell or Hallelujah!"

FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State Author

Updated yet again with release date information for the new album!!

Manny 4 years ago

I can't believe someone would actually pay 4 grand for a book!!!! I love KISS but love only goes so far!

FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State Author

I agree, Manny... I think I'm gonna wait for the bargain-priced paperback version.

Shawn Dudley profile image

Shawn Dudley 4 years ago from Los Angeles, California

Great article as always. I know my opinions on this won't be too popular but then again I can only be myself. Kiss was one of the most important bands to me in my pre-teen years, the first group I became an obsessive fan of, etc. However, by the time I turned 13 I had moved on to other bands and I never really did go back to Kiss. I think I just grew out of their music. Occasionally I'll listen to Kiss Alive! when I'm feeling nostalgic, but other than that Kiss remains something in my distant past.

FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State Author

I hear what you're sayin' Shawn. I'm a fanboy, but even as such, I'll readily admit that my KISS fandom has had its ups and downs over the years, and that the band has released almost as many bad albums as they have good ones.

Hell, until I heard SONIC BOOM in 2009 I didn't even really like the idea of the Simmons/Stanley/Singer/Thayer lineup. I thought it was lame that Gene & Paul stuck the "Spaceman" and "Cat" makeup on two ringers and then did nothing but trot out the same old tired Greatest Hits set on the nostalgia circuit for almost ten years. However, I really enjoyed SONIC BOOM and the fact that they're finally creating new music with this lineup has legitimized it, at least in my eyes.

I could definitely do without the ridiculous merch (a four thousand dollar coffee table book??) and overpriced concert tickets but right now, they seem to be "on a roll" music wise and are putting out good stuff again. Once a fanboy, always a fanboy, I guess. :)

Shawn Dudley profile image

Shawn Dudley 4 years ago from Los Angeles, California

When you are young I think it's normal for a bands to be more than just a band to you, they are HEROES. From age 6 to 9 Kiss were that band for me...then around 1979 I discovered two bands that took over that role...Pink Floyd and Rush. Those two groups really opened my eyes to the "art" in rock and it was hard to go back to stuff like Kiss after listening to albums like The Wall and Permanent Waves. Those groups led me to progressive rock and that is one of the only styles of music that I have consistently listened to ever since.

In 1982 I discovered Iron Maiden and that started a whole new obsession...

FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State Author

Can't argue with that. Iron Maiden have been an obsession of mine for nearly as long! :D

FreedomMetal profile image

FreedomMetal 4 years ago from Somewhere In Time

Someone mention Iron Maiden obsession???? LOL

Joe Cogan 4 years ago

I saw them on the Psycho-Circus tour, no interest in seeing them with fake Ace and fake Peter.

Omnivium profile image

Omnivium 4 years ago

I didn't know KISS is still making music. How old are they now?

FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State Author

According to our friends at Wikipedia, Paul Stanley is 60 and Gene Simmons will be 63 on August 25th. Drummer Eric Singer is 53 and Tommy Thayer is 51.

They did take a break from recording for over a decade (till 2009's "Sonic Boom" they hadn't made an album since 1998) but now it appears they're making up for lost time.

hw 4 years ago

I just saw the Kiss/Crue show in Houston and Kiss was awesome. Can't wait for the Monster cd and a second tour. Ill probably have to pass on the 4000 dollar book though. That's a bit steep

FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State Author

Cool, man - glad to hear they can still bring it in concert. I don't blame you for skipping the Monster Book!!

FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 4 years ago from The Garden State Author

UPDATED with a pic of the new album cover, info on the upcoming deluxe reissue of "Destroyer" and some other neat stuff!

BlackDiamondCheesehead 3 years ago

I'll take two of the "Monster" books, please. One to actually read and one to keep as a souvenir...

FatFreddysCat profile image

FatFreddysCat 3 years ago from The Garden State Author

Hi BDC - Gene Simmons and his accountants thank you!!

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