Kiss is an exciting Brooklynbased band with an imaginative stage presentation and a tight new album. The music is all hard-edged — they call it “thunderock” — and throughout their electrical storm solid craftsmanship prevails. Paul Stanley’s rhythm guitar is the star of the proceedings, barking out the coarse chord patterns that comprise the foundation of the band’s material. Gene Simmons can thus provide an extra dimension to the band’s music by playing fluid bass patterns (especially on “Cold Gin”) and Peter Criss contributes impressive drumming marked by Keith Moon’s power and proficiency.
“Nothing to Lose,” “Firehouse” and “Cold Gin” — a Side One trilogy that would make Alice Cooper proud — provides over ten minutes of steady, stompin’ rock & roll with an allenveloping forcefulness. The manic “Deuce” makes fine music for crushing skulls and “Strutter” prominently displays the lead guitar talents of Ace Frehley, an unmistakable graduate of the Buck Dharma school of frenetic fretting.
An exceptional album, Kiss could have been even better had the group incorporated more of their concert sound into the recording studio. Onstage they rain a Black Sabbath-like fury, but here they sound more like a cross between Deep Purple and the Doobie Brothers. Though Frehley is an integral component of the stage show, here his guitar is used sparingly, particularly on “Cold Gin,” where a solo could’ve propelled the tune to a higher plateau. A firm commitment to their stage sound (as in “Deuce” and portions of “Black Diamond”) could well insure excellence — a course worth pursuing.