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3.22 | 26 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1981

Filed under Hard Rock


1. The Oath (4:32)
2. Fanfare (1:22)
3. Just A Boy (2:30)
4. Dark Light (4:12)
5. Only You (4:19)
6. Under The Rose (4:49)
7. A World Without Heroes (2:40)
8. Mr. Blackwell (4:53)
9. Escape From The Island (2:50)
10. Odyssey (5:36)
11. I (3:52)
12. Finale (1:23)

Total Time 42:46


- Paul Stanley / rhythm guitar, lead vocals
- Gene Simmons / bass guitar, lead vocals
- Ace Frehley / lead guitar, lead vocals
- Eric Carr / drums, percussion, backing vocals

- Bob Ezrin / keyboards, bass guitar (track 6, 8, 10)
- Allan Schwartzberg / drums (track 3, 11)
- The American Symphony Orchestra / orchestra
- St. Robert's Choir / choir

About this release

Release date: November 10, 1981
Label: Casablanca Records

The international version has the following tracklist:

1. Fanfare (1:23)
2. Just A Boy (2:37)
3. Odyssey (5:29)
4. Only You (4:16)
5. Under The Rose (4:48)
6. Dark Light (4:13)
7. A World Without Heroes (2:46)
8. The Oath (4:32)
9. Mr. Blackwell (4:56)
10. Escape From The Island (2:51)
11. I (5:04)

Total Time 42:46

Thanks to Pekka, Lynx33, diamondblack for the updates


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Specialists/collaborators reviews

After Unmasked flopped, Kiss needed to pull out something special. Initially planning to create a heavy rock album harking back to their glory days, the group soon hit upon a more ambitious idea: a prog rock concept album - no, make that a TRILOGY of prog rock concept albums, if Bob Ezrin's recollections are correct - associated with an epic fantasy movie based on their narrative.

Of course, the movie never manifested and nor did the two sequel albums. Gene Simmons has described the resulting album as a bad Kiss album, but would give it two stars as a "bad Genesis record". The description is rather apt; the album sounds absolutely nothing like Kiss, and it doesn't really sound much like prog rock or art rock either. It seems that whilst the band liked the idea of producing an arty concept album, they didn't really have much idea of what such a thing might sound like and didn't feel particularly inclined to do much research; the album sounds like someone's attempt to recreate a classic concept album by the likes of Genesis, Gentle Giant or Pink Floyd based on a fuzzy and not particularly detailed written summary of what the music sort-of kind-of sounds like.

So, what you have is the odd medieval flourish, some slower-tempo songs than Kiss usually make, a ballad or two... and one really confusing concept. The story is about some kid who is recruited by a secret society to do... something. We don't know what the purpose of this secret society is, or the role the villainous Mr Blackwell plays in anything, or what the hell Escape from the Island is about (said song being an instrumental, and said island and the escape attempt from it not being mentioned in any of the other songs), and we have no idea where the story was going to go because, of course, the album only represents the first act of a three-act story. Boiled down to its essentials, the story goes like this: Morpheus, the Order of the Rose's recruiter, asks the hero if he wants to join up. The boy says "yes." The Order leaders ask him to swear an oath. He does so. Everyone is glad he is a member of the club. The end.

Following the plot is even harder on some editions because in some releases the running order was meddled with; you can tell if you have one of these editions because The Oath, the lead single from the album, is at the start rather than its proper place in the running order. Actually, the best song on here is A World Without Heroes, which approaches interesting; the band dispense with pretensions towards art rock and provide a melancholy, low-key number about how miserable the world would get if nobody stepped up to the plate and did some heroing. But to clutch to it as an example of a really great song of the album is to clutch at straws; the fact is, this album consists of Kiss trying their hardest not to be Kiss, at a point in time when they were neither particularly good at being Kiss nor good at whatever the hell it was they were trying to be.
This surreal album has become somewhat of a guilty pleasure over the years and it was one of the last Kiss albums I bought on vinyl straight off the shelf. I was quite taken aback as most Kissaddicts were by the conceptual framework and unusaul structure of intros, narrations and progressive passages of music. Some cringe worthy material is contained such as Odyssey but this also has some excellent material. Highlights include the metallic The Oath, Dark Light, Only You/Under the Rose, and I. This also features a great instrumental with some killer riffs, Escape From The Island, that I have always adored. The single World Without Heroes is commercial tripe but it showed the diversity of the group and Simmons sounds excellent. Eric Carr is excellent on percussion and Ace actually sings well on lead. Paul is great on The Oath and Just A Boy. None of the narrative makes sense as it was fragments of an idea that never got off the gorund for a movie, but this is one of its most endearing qualities. The album is strangely compelling but has attracted many haters. I think Kiss did make a mistake on this one but it is so hugely entertaining and diverse that I can easily rate this 4 stars.

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