“Destroyer” is a masterpiece for Kiss. After a swag of lukewarm studio albums they blazed up the charts with this incredible album , which is revered by the legions of Kiss Army fans as being the best the band produced. It followed up from the exceptional “Alive!”, the massive live double that changed everything for the band in terms of notoriety. But with “Destroyer” the band fast became the hottest band on the planet. It was a huge success worldwide and was certified gold and platinum in 1976.
Bob Ezrin was the masterful producer of this worldwide success story. Ezrin added to the mix sound effects such as the opening intro which is unsurpassed in Kisstory; a radio report is heard of a car crash, and then we flash back to how it all happened, a car driving and revving while a radio station is switched until it gets to the famous riff of ‘Detroit Rock City’. This track is a blitz of awesome riifs and hard driving rhythms. Stanley is incredible as he sings “12 o’clock I gotta rock, there’s a drunk ahead, lights staring at my eyes...” The riffs by Ace and Paul are fantastic; the twin guitar harmonies are inspirational and unforgettable. Perhaps Kiss finest riffs are captured on this song.
This segues seamlessly into ‘King of the Nighttime World’ with great rhythms and Ace on lead is wonderful. The next track’ God of Thunder’ became legendary as a vehicle for Simmons to spit blood on every live show. The studio is slow, grim and doomy with very laboured vocals that at times sound like a monster. There are Ezrin touches such as children screaming and yelling out. It is very creepy and one of the darkest Kiss tracks ever. There are reversed drum effects and very powerful bass lines. A classic in every sense, the song was controversial due to its demonic lyrics, “I’m the lord of the wastelands, a modern day man of steel, I gather darkness to please me, and I command you to kneal...” Simmons was having fun with his persona and of course in concert the song was even darker, with a faster riffing tempo and death metal style vocals.
A children's choir was used on ‘Great Expectations’ and a full string orchestra, with Gene at his most tender, a first for Kiss. The song includes the second movement of Beethoven's Sonata No. 8 in C Minor, opus 13 "Pathétique". It is an epic and was actually played live with a children’s choir and orchestra on Kiss makeup at the Symphony Live concert in recent years.
‘Flaming Youth’ is a favourite of mine, a sleeper track that really rocks hard with a solid infectious chorus.
‘Sweet Pain’ is a great Simmons driven track about S & M though my innocent ears had no idea back in the 70s, “whip is always beside me, you want the same thing everyday, I’ll teach you love a different way....”
The New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra plays as Peter sings ‘Beth’, a hit single uncharacteristic as it was so melancholy and gentle, tenderly written to Peter’s wife. I was never a fan of this until I saw it live and saw how much it meant to Peter and it grew on me as a quick interlude between the craziness in concerts. It was a chance for fans to throw roses and for Peter to get in front of an audience and out of that drum kit.
‘Shout It Out Loud’ became as synonymous with the band as ‘Rock and Roll Allnite’. The single hit the charts and did well and was revisited years later when the band were reunited again on the worldwide tour . The premise is simple “you gotta have a party.... turn it up louder... everybody shout it now.... oh yeah!” What else needed to be said, the crowds got it and they wanted a piece of this madness. It was loud, crazy, fun and head bangers were loving Kiss in the late 70s.
‘Do You Love Me’ is a blasting track with Paul asking the ultimate question. I always liked this raucous heavy album closer. It sounds great in concert too on “Alive 2”. The last song is untitled and is just a reprise of a previous song and bookends the album neatly.
This album is legendary, and the most talked about Kiss studio album. It is adored by fans and non fans alike. Everything seems to work, the effects, the performances, the production – it was lightning in a bottle and Kiss would never rise to this standard again. From the iconic caricatures on the cover to the icy cold echoes on ‘God of Thunder’ this was a miraculous work, a prime example of how great Kiss could be when everything lined up perfectly.