There's no doubt that Destroyer is Kiss's best album yet or that Bob Ezrin, Alice Cooper's heavyhanded wizard of heavy-metal production who helped write seven of the nine tunes here, has made the difference. But despite Ezrin's superb production, Kiss still lacks that flash of creative madness that could have made their music interesting, or at least listenable.
The lead-off song, "Detroit, Rock City," begins with 90 seconds of Cooper-like effects: the sounds of the breakfast table and a news announcer in the background reading a story of a kid who died in a head-on collision; then a flashback to the doomed youth entering his car that night, his mind undoubtedly on the song that follows, and finally in the coda, the screeching crash. Unfortunately, Kiss entirely lacks the satiric distance that often made Cooper's use of such conceits genuinely funny, and worse yet, such gimmickry is the best Destroyer has to offer.
The songs, save for two bloated ballads, are relentless riff rockers rooted in patently pedestrian drumming. Although constructed with professional aplomb, making use of a wide array of heavy-metal conventions, there's nothing new here. Even when an effective melody, such as the rabble-rousing "Shout It Out Loud," is presented, the lackluster performances dampen the effect. The vocals are undistinguished and emotionally empty; the lyrics — about partying and the rock scene, with plenty of campy S&M allusions — trite. Worse yet, there's not a memorable guitar solo on the album.
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