Maybe it’s the makeup. Maybe it’s the merchandising. Maybe, at the end of the day, it’s just the music itself. Whatever the source, it is safe to say that few bands have inspired as much fervent devotion—and also rabid derision—as the self-proclaimed “Hottest Band in the World,” Kiss.
In the era of YouTube, and with the ubiquitous presence of camera phones and inexpensive digital recorders capturing almost every mundane moment of modern life, it’s difficult to imagine a musical genre or group of talented musicians remaining undiscovered.
“This isn’t ‘old-timer’s day,’ ” Paul Stanley says of Kiss in 2012. “If that’s anybody’s idea of what we’re doing, then that’s just morbid and ridiculous.” Indeed, the 60-year-old singer and guitarist has just one word for those who question whether there’s still a fire raging beneath Kiss’ pancake-makeup exterior: Monster. That’s the title of the band’s new and—zounds!—20th studio album, which is Kiss’ hardest-hitting effort since 1992’s Revenge. The collection’s 13 tracks are streamlined and direct, with a vibe that recalls their Seventies-rock heyday and a sound that is solidly modern.