Released: 1992, Mercury Records
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
REVENGE could be the most surprising album that Kiss has released since 1981’s (MUSIC FROM) THE ELDER. I remember seeing the video for “Unholy” about a week or so before REVENGE came out and I couldn't believe it was Kiss! They looked all leathery and tough, Gene Simmons was sporting a bad goatee and that ponytail that grew out of the back of his head; what happened to the teased hair, fluorescent scarves and spandex? Could it be that Kiss had returned to leathery hard rock? YESSSS!!!!
Once the album came out and I gave it a listen, I was hooked. I listened to nothing else for at least 2 weeks. REVENGE is sweet, my friends! From the opening crunch of “Unholy” to the fitting tribute to Eric Carr on “Carr Jam 1981”, this album is killer! “Unholy” is one of my favorite Kiss songs ever. Gene rips it up like he's back from the dead; he screams and growls better than ever. Bruce Kulick's guitar work on “Unholy” is also a standout, especially the intro. After the dismal offerings from Gene on 1989’s HOT IN THE SHADE CD, he comes back with “Unholy”, “Spit”, “Domino” and “Paralyzed”--all of which are his best songs since “Fits Like A Glove” and “Young and Wasted” on 1983's LICK IT UP. Is it a coincidence that Vinnie Vincent, the guitarist featured on that album, had a hand in writing “Unholy”, as well as several other songs on the album? I don't think so. “Paralyzed” has the same qualities as “Unholy” with great guitar work by Bruce. Ever the gentleman, Gene croaks out his love for an underage girl a la “Christine Sixteen” in “Domino”, and his worship of the Rubenesque female in “Spit”. The only song on REVENGE that’s not up to snuff is “Thou Shalt Not” and even it’s not bad.
Don’t think I’ve forgotten about Paul Stanley because he has some of his best work in years on REVENGE.. “Take It Off” is an ode to strip clubs, he sings of his favorite pastime in “I Just Wanna”, and “Heart of Chrome” is one of those rare heavies offered up by the former Starchild. “Tough Love” has a lame chorus but the guitars make up for it and like “Thou Shalt Not”, it is still better than some of the stuff that Kiss had released the few years prior to REVENGE.
“God Gave Rock 'N Roll To You II”, “Every Time I Look At You”, and “Carr Jam 1981” round out the album. “God Gave Rock 'N Roll To You II” is a catchy number that tries to capitalize on past Kiss anthems like “Shout It Out Loud” and “Rock and Roll All Nite”. “Every Time I Look At You” is a great ballad from Paul and is an excellent follow-up to HOT IN THE SHADE’s, “Forever”. The ballads show that Kiss are good musicians whether they're rocking it up or slowing it down. The string section is a nice touch, too. “Carr Jam 1981” is a real disappointment for me, though. Sure, it showcases Eric Carr's drumming (which by the way blows away original Kiss drummer, Peter Criss) but I would have rather heard a good Carr vocal that was left out for whatever reason from a previous Kiss album, instead. It's as if Eric was muted from singing during his tour of duty in Kiss and even as a tribute, the band fails to give us a vocal performance from him. Sure, “Little Caesar” from HOT IN THE SHADE gave us a taste of what Carr could belt out, but 1 song in 10 years just wasn't enough. This is basically Eric Carr's “Moby Dick” and he really shows what he can do on the skins.
REVENGE was a real surprise for me and showed that despite the pop tendencies of the 1980's, Kiss could still rock! One of their best albums!