Let me preface by stating for the record that, while I am a fan of this band, I'd never venture to say that everything they've ever done is gold. That said, I'm very pleased to report that "Monster" is the best thing that KISS has produced in a very long time ("Sonic Boom" was an impressive return to form; "Monster" is even better).
The album kicks out of the stalls with the one-two punch of the current single, "Hell Or Hallelujah", which most fans will be already familiar with, and the blistering "Wall Of Sound". With the Rainbow-like riffage and balls-to-the-wall Foo Fighters-style production of "Hell...", it's a strong start. But there's even better to come when Simmons steps up to the mic for the aforementioned "Wall Of Sound". It's arguably the strongest song here (Simmons' contributions frequently outshine Stanley's on "Monster") but there is much more fun and surprises to be had. Relative newcomer Tommy Thayer impresses with "Outta This World", and drummer Eric Singer provides a solid lead vocal to Stanley's nostalgiac "All For The Love Of Rock & Roll". "Monster" finishes strongly, too, with the shared Stanley/Simmons lead vocal of the deliciously smutty "Take Me Down Below" before Paul Stanley closes the show with the album's best vocal performance, "Last Chance".
"Monster" is everything it says it is on the front: "No filler. No ballads. Just full-throttle rock `n' roll". Fans will rejoice as "Monster" is heavy, laden with memorable riffs and is full of that trademark KISS swagger and gleam in the eye.
Why only 4 stars? Because it's not as good as KISS' best ("Alive!", "Destroyer"). "Monster" is, however, against the odds and all expectations, the best thing they've done since those 70's milestones. Highly recommended.