KISS has made teasing and tempting their fans a rather annoying habit over the last couple of years. Their current album, Monster, was rumored about and dangled in front of fans for over two years before the band finally released it. I'm happy to say that it is one of their best albums in my opinion and was well worth the wait.
Also hinted at for quite some time was a re-release of KISS' epic Destroyer album that is quite possibly their best known album outside of Alive. It had already been remixed once before whenever KISS had all of their all of their studio albums pre-Hot In The Shade back in the 1990's (most likely to cash in on the reunion tour I'm betting), but the band was promising bigger things with the new remix.
As expected, rumors floated around about the album's cover, the track listing, the release date, the producer, potential extras included with the album, etc. for months. Here is what eventually happened: The album's original and rejected cover art by Ken Kelly was placed on the album. The track listing wasn't tampered with, excepting the addition of one track at the end of the album that I'll mention later. The release date was finally pinned down to August 21, 2012. Bob Ezrin, the producer of the original album, helmed the remix. Extras were slim and a bit disappointing. They varied depending on where you purchased the album. Wal-Mart offered a photo book with the CD, but I skipped on it and went with the standard edition instead. Best Buy supposedly offered a couple of extra tracks, but I never investigated it to find out if it were true. In short, the only definite extras everyone got were great liner notes from Ezrin, some unreleased photos, and the track Sweet Pain with Ace Frehley's original guitar intro placed at the end of the album. Dick Wagner provided the intro in the 1976 version of the song which is still on this album and bookended by Flaming Youth and Shout It Out Loud.
When I popped the album into my CD player, I honestly wasn't expecting much of a difference between the 2012 version or the 1990's version. I have to admit that I was very surprised by what I actually heard.
The album is crystal clear. Ezrin went through and cleaned up all sorts of things on the album. The two players that benefit most from this remix are Gene Simmons and Peter Criss. Criss' drums are crisp, pounding, and a tad louder. Simmons' bass sounds a lot cleaner. While these changes are noticeable, neither of them are overbearing or annoying. Ezrin also cleaned up Frehley's work on the album, most notably in Detroit Rock City. There are parts of Frehley's performance in that song that I had never heard before. It wasn't until after I listened to the old version of the song a bit closer that I noticed that Ezrin had not added some of the guitar work, but enhanced it instead. He also added minor flourishes here and there on the album, but they won't be noticed by casual KISS fans at all. There's an additional vocal of "Get up, get down" during Detroit Rock City, as well as an added, "AhhhAhhh" during Beth. It's the exact same "AhhhAhhh" that Peter Criss ends the song with, but it adds a nice touch during the song.
Speaking of Beth, Ezrin manages to take KISS' most successful single and actually makes it sound better! The acoustic guitar (played by Dave Wagner) pops almost immediately and stands out from the orchestra that everyone knows and loves from the song. Beth becomes even more unique with this remix, and I love it. Flaming Youth's calliope also gets the "popping" treatment, as it also stands out against the barrage of guitars in that track.
As a whole, Ezrin has made Destroyer sound better. His minor alterations are, for the most part, lost on casual fans, but hardcore members of the KISS Army will pick up on the changes immediately. They will also notice a minor glitch in one of the tracks (and I'm not going to say which tune it is, so if you're not a KISS fan, google it) that has supposedly been corrected in new pressings of the album.
Should you rush out and buy Destroyer Resurrected? If you're a KISS fan like me, you probably already have. I bought it on its release date (and got angry every time they changed the release date). I only waited this long to review it because I've been brutally slow with reviews for over a year now. If you aren't a major KISS fan and already own an older version of the album, skip it. The changes aren't monumental enough for a casual fan to recognize or appreciate. However, if you've just discovered KISS or ever wanted to know what all the hoopla is about, pick up Destroyer Resurrected.
P.S. I've included photos of both the rejected Resurrected cover and the album's cover from 1976 so you can see the differences.
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