The best thing about Kiss, and the main reason they were as successful as they were/are, is that they knew the whole thing was a joke. They had great songs—bubblegum songs, if you really want to analyze them—coated with loud guitars, a backbeat that could raise the dead, and lots of posturing and attitude. Sure, boys watched Gene spit blood and breathe fire, but girls wondered what he could really do with that pointed tongue. It was sex and glam and loud and fun—it’s only rock and roll, man, and I like it, like it, yes I do. No one ever went to a Kiss concert and came home scared or deranged, they came home deaf and happy. How great were they? Well, try putting YOUR teacher in makeup and platform boots and strap a bass on him and see what happens. Kiss rocked!
So imagine a collection of mostly humorless death-metal bands not getting the joke, and singing these songs like Satan is auditioning for a house band. Musically, we’re talking anything from competently enthusiastic (From The Depths) to Black Sabbath weaned thuds (Equinox, Hate Theory) to chipmunk metal (Scary German Guy), each of which is fine on their own merits. But why is it that ninety percent of the vocalists for these bands sound so pathetic? It’s hilarious that these losers think that distorted atonal growling is just the right touch to complement their music. Hostile Intent must be fronted by a large, dying lizard, while Blood Coven sounds like they dug up Country Dick Montana, crushed his Atom’s Apple and then pissed him off. I’d like to send a REAL angry guy over there, say Henry Rollins, and I’ll bet he kicks all their asses one after another. Shit, Henry Winkler or Henry Gibson could probably kick their asses. But that’s just my opinion—if you like horrible, guttural vocal sounds, have I got some bands for you. And it’s not like I don’t “get it”; I have tons of music from bands like these that are hard as sledgehammers but can take a song like “Deuce” and wring the sweat out of it. I mean really, how can you screw up “Strutter”? Well, track four.
If you do make it through the first eight tracks, you finally hit a couple of bands who do it right. The singer for Tchort actually enunciates during a rousing “I Love It Loud” (which is the point, after all), and Debauchery absolutely kicks ass on “Detroit Rock City.” And though Vile’s singer isn’t great, he’s Ronnie Dio next to most of his peers while handling “Strange Ways”.
In a nutshell, the band who wanted to Keep It Simple Stupid is being feted by a bunch of people who thought the name really stood for Knights In Satan’s Service. Yet another inside joke gone screaming over their heads like the Blue Angels. Hey, great cover art, though.
// Notes from the Road
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