“Get me out of this rock and roll hell…..”
With their popularity spiraling downward at an uncomfortably fast rate, KISS stumbled into a shaky 1982. Ace Frehley’s days in the band were numbered. His battles with alcoholism and drug dependency at the time are well documented in his book, No Regrets, as well as the books of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. Frehley’s vices were taking control and he was about to officially exit the band. Couple that with the fact that KISS’ last three studio albums were disco, pop rock, and KISS at the RenFair, respectively, the band’s fans were exiting quickly. Something needed to be done.
That something was 1982’s Creatures of the Night.
The album brought hairy-fisted rock back to a KISS album for the first time since the band’s heyday with albums like Love Gun and Rock And Roll Over. Riding on the shoulders of Eric Carr’s blistering drum work, the album is almost entirely hard rock and heavy metal with only a slight break with the power ballad, I Still Love You. A rotating cast of guitarists brought other rock elements into the album as well. Vinnie Vincent, Steve Farris, and Robben Ford all took turns at lead guitar on the album despite Ace Frehley’s face appearing on the cover. Other performers were brought in as well and despite this, the album’s sound is fluid, hard, fast, and amazing.
The album’s cover is arguably one of the best covers that the band ever released. The piercing, glowing eyes of Simmons, Carr, Stanley, and Frehley set on a dark blue and black backdrop grab your attention. The pink lettering sticks out as well. It’s one of my favorite covers of all time.
Frehley’s drug and alcohol issues essentially cost him his spot in the band. After just a few promotional appearances and appearing in the video for I Love It Loud, Frehley exited or was fired from the band (depending on who you ask) and was replaced by Vinnie Vincent. Vincent took on the persona of the Ankh Warrior. Vincent recorded lead guitars for more songs (six) on Creatures than any other guitarist and co-wrote three of the album’s tracks including its most recognized and only charting single, I Love It Loud. Vincent would become an enigma for both the band and its fans over the coming years, and I’ll cover those years in later posts.
The album received great reviews and was considered by many critics of the time to be one of the best KISS albums ever released. Despite this, fans didn’t show up to purchase the album and it struggled to find an audience. The album managed to crawl up to #45 on the US Billboard 200 charts. It fared much better internationally, peaking at #22 in both Sweden and the United Kingdom. Three singles were released, the title track, I Love It Loud, and Killer. Only I Love It Loud charted, reaching #34 on the UK Singles Chart. That track and War Machine have been played live on multiple tours. Both of them appear on the current End Of The Road tour.
- Creatures Of The Night (Single)
- Killer (Single)
- Keep Me Comin’
- Rock And Roll Hell
- I Love It Loud (Single)
- I Still Love You
- Saint And Sinner
- War Machine
Personnel: Paul Stanley (lead and backing vocals, rhythm guitars), Eric Carr (backing vocals, drums), Gene Simmons (lead and backing vocals, rhythm guitars, bass), Ace Frehley (listed as a contributor but did not perform on the album), Vinnie Vincent (all lead guitars except where noted), Robben Ford (lead guitars on Rock And Roll Hell and I Still Love You), Steve Farris (lead guitars on Creatures of the Night), Jimmy Haslip and Mark Porcaro (additional bass), Adam Mitchell (additional guitars)
This album is amazing. It’s one of my favorite KISS albums and one that I constantly put on repeat. Every single song on this album is great, even I Still Love You, which is my least favorite ballad by the band. No matter who is playing the lead guitar, I love the solos. If forced to pick one, I’d have to go with Farris’ solo on Creatures of the Night as my favorite solo on the album. While it isn’t the fastest or most intricate solo on the album, it just speaks to me. I’m also very fond of Vincent’s solo on Saint And Sinner.
The album features only Simmons and Stanley on lead vocals. Of the two, Gene Simmons really shines. While Paul definitely does a great job and works his vocal gymnastics on songs like I Still Love You, it’s Gene’s gritty return to the demonic sound that he retched out with each note on earlier albums that captivates me on this record. He does an amazing job on I Love It Loud, Saint And Sinner, War Machine, and Rock And Roll Hell. He rediscovered his inner monster on this album and it really makes him stand out on this record. Unfortunately, that demonic sound will take a backseat to Paul’s vocals throughout the rest of the 80’s. A harbinger of this sound can be found on Keep Me Comin’ which, in my opinion, sounds like a lot of the songs that KISS recorded during the no makeup era.
Of all of the tracks on the album, my favorites are I Love It Loud, Saint And Sinner, War Machine, Rock And Roll Hell, and Creatures Of The Night. If I’m truly honest, though, I can’t pick just one as my favorite. This album doesn’t have one bad track on it. Everyone that played on this album did a great job. Carr’s drums are of special note. I recommend reading this article to get an idea of how Carr’s drums were recorded to get the blistering sound that you hear on the album.
As the years have gone by, fans old and new alike have revisited or rediscovered Creatures of the Night and it has finally taken its rightful place as one of the band’s most loved albums. It didn’t reach gold status in the United States until 1994. It deserved and still deserves more attention. If you haven’t listened to it, I highly recommend it. It’s one of my go-to albums whenever I meet someone curious about my fascination with KISS.
Thanks for checking out my review. For June and July I’ll be taking a Summer Solo Break. During those two months I will be taking a look at the original members’ four solo albums released in 1978. In August I’ll begin my journey through the No Makeup era albums and the eventual reunion album, Psycho Circus, and the band’s final studio albums featuring the group’s current lineup. See you next month!