How many tell-all books about KISS do we need? Here’s everything you need to know: Gene and Paul = high-functioning assholes, Peter and Ace = low-functioning assholes. This dynamic anticipates and explains every twist and turn of the KISS story in the past 40 years.
Drilling a bit deeper, you could say that Peter is deeply insecure and has a Napoleon complex, while Ace was/is a skinsuit piloted by various drug monkeys that doesn’t care about anything much except getting high. You could say Paul is deeply insecure and holds fantasies of being an “icon” (a rock god, a sex symbol, whatever), while Gene Simmons is basically after “fuck you” money. So in a sense, you could draw a dividing line orthogonal to the first one. Peter and Paul’s motives are complex. Gene and Ace motives are simple.
Despite his simplicity, Simmons is the most intriguing part of KISS. The man is so naked and undisguised in his greed that he becomes fascinating, and even a bit likable in a perverse way. It’s as if Donald Trump played rock and roll.
This is the worst album I’ve heard all years. It’s the worst album I’ve heard in several years. It is unmarred by a single listenable cut. It’s not even a failure, it’s just…anti-musical. Like something that was never even intended to be good.
What do you think of bands like the Pretty Reckless? If you’re like me, your answer is “not much”, but I wouldn’t dispute that they’re at least trying to write music that you’ll enjoy. There is no way on earth you’re supposed to enjoy Asshole. It was made by a mind filled with contempt and loathing for his audience, someone who wishes he could just reach into your wallet and take money but is limited by law to the next nearest thing. It’s like having Gene Simmons flip you the bird for 40 minutes.
Horrible performances of horrible songs, that’s what’s on offer here. Gene’s voice is shot, he sounds like a 60 year old man doing karaoke. “Sweet and Dirty Love” and “Weapons of Mass Destruction” sound like what old people think heavy metal is – noise and no hooks. The title track features the couplet “you’ve got a personality / Just like a bucket full of pee”…yes, that’s what we’re working with here. “Carnival of Souls” has an unbelievably terrible chorus.
Then there’s a cover of “Firestarter”, a perplexing choice that is ruined by Gene’s flat “your call is important to us” vocal delivery. You know how they used to joke that Arnold Schwarzenegger has an acting range stretching from A almost to B? Gene Simmons is the same, but remove the “acting” part.
And are you ready for the horrible news? The terrifying “Soylent Green is People” revelation?
These are the album’s good songs.
The rest of this CD is packed with terrifying and near-apocalyptic crap that sounds like adult contemporary/soft RnB music. It’s not hard rock, it’s not even soft rock, it’s basically Boyz 2 Men with a bad singer. I couldn’t believe it. I still can’t. It feels like this must be a false memory implanted by the government. Why would the bassist of KISS release an album where at least 50% of the music sounds like a gentle spanish. Then I hear the gentle Spanish guitars and female backup vocals of “If I Had a Gun”, and I realise the nightmare is made of flesh, not dream matter.
Did you know Gene Simmons has a sex tape? Yes, I’ve seen it. No, he doesn’t look any better in his birthday suit. This album sounds like the kind of thing that could have scored it.