Released: 1976, Mercury Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
How could Kiss follow-up the phenomenal success of ALIVE!? With DESTROYER of course!
Uber-70s producer, Bob Ezrin (Alice Cooper, Pink Floyd) took the reins on DESTROYER and shaped what was Kiss’ most ambitious and experimental album up to that point. Rather than make another hard rock album, Ezrin used a lot of studio effects and layering of songs to achieve the distinct sound. Unfortunately, that creative ear led to mixed results.
“Detroit Rock City” remains one of Kiss' best songs. The opening guitar riff leads into a pounding double bass drum courtesy of Peter Criss. The newscast/driving car intro is a nice touch, too. The inevitable crash at the end of that song segues directly into “King of The Nighttime World”, which shows Ezrin’s creative touch. With its strange opening effects, “God of Thunder” is Gene Simmons at his demonic best. You have to see him do this live with the green lights, smoke and blood-spewing! The whole gothic-theme of the song epitomizes The Demon image Gene had created for himself. “Shout It Out Loud” is one of Kiss’ best anthems but is basically an attempt at “Rock and Roll All Nite Part 2”. “Beth” is one of the most recognized--but ridiculously over-played--power ballads to this day. “Do You Love Me?” is a great album closer and even features a trippy “bonus track” of Paul saying, “We’re gonna have ourselves a rock and roll party here tonight”, over and over. “Sweet Pain” sees Gene delving into the dark recesses of S&M with its lyrics. “Flaming Youth” has its moments, but doesn't quite measure up to the caliber of the rest of the material. The low point of DESTROYER is “Great Expectations”. This has got to be the worst song the band ever recorded. Ambitious…yes, but the choirs and hokey lyrics make a bad song even worse.
As successful as DESTROYER is today, it was initially a failure for the band until a DJ at an Atlanta radio station flipped over the “Detroit Rock City” single and began playing “Beth”. Twenty seven years later, 6 out of the 9 tracks are still featured in the band’s live set. DESTROYER is a great album that would keep the Kiss momentum going for another 4 years.