On October 9, 2012, Kiss released Freakan LP that could become their last studio album.
After spending years avoiding a studio return, Kiss offered a compelling account of themselves with 2009. Supersonic Detonation. Their 19th record followed that of 1998 psycho circusand with guitarist Tommy Thayer and drummer Eric Singer now comfortable in their positions alongside Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, Supersonic Detonation makes quite a loud noise when it arrives.
Stanley had taken the producer’s chair and ruled out the possibility of working with outside writers. Instead, he asked the members to sit in a circle as they charted new leads. His goal was to avoid being too nostalgic while still showcasing the band’s original songwriting ethic; and the result was a record that reached No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart.
There had already been whispers that it was their last record – Stanley had noted “I thought it would be a shame to let Circus Psycho be our final statement” – but despite this, and inflamed by Supersonic DetonationKiss started working on their 20th album in 2012. Freak was released on October 9 after a delay in reaching a new deal with Universal.
“This is by far the best thing we’ve done in I don’t know how long,” Stanley enthused in a video shot down just as the work was being completed. “Have I said that before? Yeah. Was I right? Yeah. I’m right again this time… the album kicks ass and we’re very, very proud of it. He also justified the title Freak saying the LP sounded “powerful, heavy, melodic and epic”.
“I wanted to make an album that feels like we’ve never done,” Stanley told Metal Rules around the time the first single “Hell or Hallelujah” arrived. “I would be lying if I said I don’t want this to happen. But I don’t expect success. I succeeded thanks to the album that I wanted to make. Do I want others to like it? Sure. Everyone wants validation. But if you try to guess people – ‘What kind of album do they want?’ – and then you fail, you kick yourself and say, “I should have done it my way. I did it my way and whatever is going to happen is going to happen; but I’m behind the album.
Watch Kiss’ video for “Hell or Hallelujah”
Simmons echoed his bandmate’s sentiments.
“That’s what we all decided to do…let’s make a record without compromise. Let’s be who we are,” the bassist told Musical speed cameras, adding that the group’s goal was to make a simple rock album. “When you walk into the studio, it’s like being on a diet inside a bakery. You have all this technology and all the time in the world. You can bring in symphony orchestras, saxophones and glockenspiels, because you’re not in front of people. We would never have dared to put a guy on stage with a saxophone. That’s not who we are. The hardest thing to do was to go into the studio and to say, “To hell with all that sophisticated French cuisine, let’s just have some meat and two vegetables.
Despite their declared pride in what they had accomplished and an admirable No. 3 spot on the Billboard 200, Freak apparently didn’t give Kiss the kind of afterglow they were hoping for. Of course, the music industry had changed and LP sales were dying in the face of singles offered by streaming services; and Supersonic Detonation had been a welcome return for a rock weapon that seemed to have fallen silent. Under these circumstances, something akin to a second volume of Supersonic Detonation was never going to have the same explosive effect. Five songs from Freak were performed live on tour, but four of them had dropped out the following year, with “Hell or Hallelujah” making its last live appearance in 2018.
Listen to Kiss’ “Long Way Down”
In August 2022, Stanley once again affirmed that, while the experience of Freak hadn’t been a “crushing disappointment”, he had concluded that “when you put your heart and soul into doing something and it gets a polite nod, there are other things I’d rather do” . For this reason, and with the end of their farewell tour drawing ever closer, it seems that their 20th album will be their last.
“We’ve done two albums in the last 10 years, I think, and there are songs on those that are just as good as anything I’ve ever written, but they’re new,” Stanley explained. . “I came to the conclusion that [new music] can never compete with the past. Not because it’s not as good, but it doesn’t relate to the important moments in your life.
“It doesn’t have that patina of ‘Gee, I remember I heard that song when I was 18’ or ‘I heard that song when I was on my first date’ or whatever. whatever. You can’t compete with that. It’s more than a song; it’s a snapshot of your life at some point.
Whether Freak is indeed Kiss’ last album, so at least it’s a solid, respectable piece of classic rock – and certainly better than if they had retired with Circus Psycho. But remember the band hasn’t revealed what, if anything, will follow their final gig – and fans have waited longer for a new record than the ten-year gap that just ended.
Listen to “Wall of Sound” by Kiss
Kiss Range Changes: A Complete Guide
A detailed guide to all the personnel changes undergone by the “hottest band in the country”, Kiss.