Part 2! If you didn’t read part one you can read it here. I’m going to start this post off very similarly to the last one.
First I’d like to note that these are strictly my opinions as a fan and not as a critic. If this was being done as a critic then the list would be almost completely different. Secondly these are a reflection of my opinions and not that of Decibel Geek, so if anything I say enrages you, or makes you think “this guy’s an idiot,” and I hope it does, be mad at me and not the site. And thirdly this article only ranks the studio albums of KISS and doesn’t include their live albums, as classic as some of the Alive albums may be, or any compilations, including ones with then-new recordings like Double Platinum or Killers. Oh, and no solo albums are on this list either.
I’ll also be noting what my favourite song is from each album. These aren’t “highlights” (if you’ve read my past reviews you’ll know what I mean) as much as just the songs I personally enjoy the most, usually for personal reasons, so if any of them may be laugh-inducing, pardon my sentiments for the songs.
So let’s get started!
#10. Rock and Roll Over
Many regard the first six KISS studio albums as the bona fide classics. One of those six albums was proudly put in my bottom ten so obviously the rest are somewhere in my top ten. That starts with Rock and Roll Over. Being the somewhat lackluster follow-up to Destroyer it barely made the top ten, but fan favourites like “I Want You” and “Calling Dr. Love” as well as other gems like “See You In Your Dreams” and “Mr. Speed” make this album a great listen, despite the obvious fatigue the band was going through while making it.
Favourite song: “Makin’ Love” – I actually can’t really pick a favourite here, but I’m most comfortable with this choice.
If you want it, you can buy Rock and Roll Over here.
For the longest time “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” was my favourite Kiss song. It doesn’t hold that spot anymore, but it helps hold Dynasty in a special spot in my heart. How could it not with tracks like “Magic Touch” and “X-Ray Eyes” having the terrific melodies they have. What’s also unique is how Ace Frehley sings more songs than Gene Simmons does. However, the two songs that Gene does sing (the previously mentioned “X-Ray Eyes” as well as “Charisma”) are two of the albums best. The bad songs (“Dirty Livin'” and “Hard Times”) are quite forgettable, but the rest of the tracks have kept me hooked for about a decade now.
Favourite song: “I Was Made For Lovin’ You” – Why not?
You can buy Dynasty here.
#8. Dressed To Kill
First I’ll say how much I despise “Rock and Roll All Night” and how happy I would be if I never heard it again though unfortunately I know I will. Again and again. Luckily I find the rest of the albums worth of tracks that come before it seldom show weak points. Despite the fact that the band was (apparently) literally locking themselves in a room and not leaving until they had songs written for Dressed To Kill, the forced efforts of songs like “Room Service” and “Two-Timer” don’t actually sound out of place, while the re-hashed Wicked Lester tracks “Love Her All I Can” and “She” only help raise my opinion of this album.
Favourite song: “Love Her All I Can” – My absolute favourite guitar solo by any Kiss guitarist, and one of my favourite solos of all time.
You can buy Dressed To Kill here.
#7. Carnival of Souls
It took me a LONG time to warm up to Carnival of Souls. It sounds like nothing else KISS has ever done and I guess that kind of made it lose its appeal to me. Then when I finally got it and really listened to it, I thought to myself “how the hell could I NOT love this album?” The band’s foray into grunge wasn’t a successful one in terms of breaking into the mainstream. I mean, hell, this album was initially to never see the light of day, but they did a good enough job at wearing the grunge hat for an album. “Childhood’s End” and “It Never Goes Away” capture the great melodies that everyone knows KISS can come up with but mixes them with an all new style. And I’ll never tire from the groove of “Jungle.” I think it’s the opening track “Hate” that kind of shied me away from Carnival of Souls, I mean to this day it’s still my least favourite track, but regardless this is my kind of album and I really don’t have anything negative to say about it.
Favourite song: “Rain” – Never thought Paul Stanley could sing an offbeat grunge song and that I’d like it this much.
You can buy Carnival of Souls here.
#6. Creatures of the Night
At the time, it was their heaviest album, so it’s impressive how well songs like the title track and “I Love It Loud” still hold up with fans and hard rock fans alike to this day. This is another matter of quality over quantity though, as songs like “Keep Me Comin'” and “Rock and Roll Hell” are pleasant enough to listen to, but don’t really stand out. Hell, I don’t even care for “I Love It Loud”, but it’s gems like the fast paced “Killers” and the melancholy and surprisingly bluesy “I Still Love You” as well as the guitar playing of Vinnie Vincent (even if it did go a little too much to his head) that make Creatures of the Night one of a kind in the KISS catalogue.
Favourite song: “Creatures of the Night” – almost went with the ballad here, but ultimately didn’t.
You can buy Creatures of the Night here.
#5. Hotter Than Hell
This is back when KISS were still finding their groove, and unlike the first album, Hotter Than Hell showed the members trying to write songs on their own rather than sharing the spotlight the way so many songs on the debut album had both Gene and Paul and sometimes Peter sharing lead vocals on the same track. The transition is apparent on Hotter Than Hell but out of it came the fiery title track, as well as “Watchin’ You” and the balls out rockers “Let Me Go, Rock ‘N’ Roll” and “Parasite” which along with the ballad “Goin’ Blind” make this album’s diversity a pleasant surprise when looking back on that era of the band. To add to my sentiments, the guitar riffs to “Watchin’ You” and “Strange Ways” were two of the first guitar riffs I learned the day I got my first electric guitar.
Favourite song: “Parasite” – This was a very tough choice as I don’t actually have a favourite, so I went with my favourite one to play on guitar.
You can buy Hotter Than Hell here.
I really wanted this to be in the top three. I have such fond memories of the winter that I got this album and fell in love with songs like “Nothin’ To Lose” and “Let Me Know” having already been familiar with “Strutter” and “Deuce”. Ultimately I had to keep it at fourth, no matter how much I compared it with the albums in my top 3. But how can you not love the rawness and innocence (if you can call it innocence) present here on KISS‘s debut?
Favourite song: “Black Diamond” – Everything about this song is just magic.
You can buy Kiss here.
Kiss‘s most badass album. They took their attitude and made a new sound around it that turned out to be something special. It created a whole new (though brief) era for KISS in which they were more ruthless than ever. With the heavy “Unholy” and the raunchy “Domino”, we hear Gene finally giving effort again. Then there’s Paul Stanley adding his charisma to “I Just Wanna” and trying his hand at this new heavy metal sound with songs like “Tough Love” and “Heart of Chrome” but no song is more of a classic than “God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll To You II.”
Favourite song: “Take It Off” – Paul has sung a lot of dirty songs, but this is one of, if not the most intelligently written one of the flock.
You can buy Revenge here.
#2. Crazy Nights
It may be weird to see any of the 80’s albums to make anyone’s top five, but I’ve always regarded Crazy Nights to be one of my favourite KISS albums, at times I’ve even thought that maybe it’s my ultimate favourite. Sure the songs can be corny, but I hear a lot of heart when Paul sings “I’ll Fight Hell To Hold You” and “My Way” among many others on the album. His voice was at its best on most of these songs. The only weak point is “Bang Bang You,” which sounds like it could have been written by a ten-year-old who has listened to “Love Gun” one too many times. Even most of Gene‘s songs are songs that I find worthwhile. “Hell or High Water” and “Good Girl Gone Bad” come to mind as songs that I always enjoy listening to. He softens up his voice a bit this time around which I can see fans hating, but I don’t.
Favourite song: “My Way” – It’s between a few songs, but Paul’s voice is just perfect on this one.
You can buy Crazy Nights here.
I remember once in elementary school my teacher made us re-write a poem of our choice in calligraphy, and I chose the lyrics for “Beth.” My teacher had no idea what the song was if you can believe it. This is the first KISS album I ever listened to in full. It’s because of Destroyer that I even like the band. That’s all I really have to say, but I’ll add a little more. No matter how many times I hear “Detroit Rock City” or “Shout It Out Loud” I never get tired of them the way “Rock and Roll All Night” grew old long ago. Even the songs that seem to be fillers, like “Do You Love Me?” and songs that don’t get enough love like “Sweet Pain” and “Flaming Youth” have a style to them that KISS just never seemed to explore much which makes a lot of songs on Destroyer truly one of a kind, subsequently making the album itself a true one of a kind KISS album, and the album that no matter what will always be my favourite by the band.
Favourite song: “King of the Night Time World” – Oh how many times I’ve blasted this song. Strangely enough of all songs on Destroyer I can’t play it on guitar very well. Note: Though this is my favourite song from my favourite album, it is NOT my favourite KISS song.
You can buy Destroyer here.
Thank you so much for reading. I know my opinions can be kind of out there, but I pride myself greatly on thinking outside the box. Please visit my personal blog page to see some of my out of the box critiquing by clicking here.