KISS Destroyer UK:CD|MP3 U.S.:CD|MP3 Recorded September 1975 and February 1976
Released March 15, 1976
Say it with me: “You wanted the best, you got the best! The hottest band in the world: KISS!”
Despite being the global phenomenon it is today, only a modest reception greeted KISS’ first three albums on initial release back in the 1970s. While all very good rock albums, it seemed KISS, Hotter Than Hell, and Dressed To Kill just couldn’t find a big audience. Between them they had what are now thought of as classic KISS songs such as “Strutter,” “Rock and Roll All Nite,” and “Parasite.” But it was the release of the stunning live album Alive! which turned KISS fever into a full-blown pandemic.
On March 15, 1976, a mere six months after Alive!, the band released its fourth studio album, which was produced by Bob Ezrin. It had rock anthems, ballads, wailing guitars, string sections, thumping drums, and the world’s most iconic musicians. This was to be the album which turned KISS from rock stars into superstars. And its title summed up the band’s intent: Destroyer.
Things didn’t quite go immediately to plan. The first three singles released were solid rock tracks: “Shout It Out Loud,” “Flaming Youth,” and the almighty “Detroit Rock City”; life-affirming anthems that make you want to party and require maximum listening volume. All with Ace Frehley’s screeching guitars, Paul Stanley’s swaggering vocals, and Gene Simmons’ gargling sneers shooting from the speakers. Thanks to these, Destroyer sold relatively well at first. But, ironically, it was the softer sound of drummer Peter Criss’ ballad “Beth” which proved hugely popular with radio audiences and boosted Destroyer‘s sales.
Artist Ken Kelly’s stunning work made for one of my favourite album covers of all time and has helped the album become part of popular culture: Destroyer-era merchandise, inspired by the costumes the band is wearing, is still hugely popular. Its lead track, “Detroit Rock City,” is also the name of a movie comedy (in which the lead female character is called Beth) about four KISS-mad friends desperately trying to get their hands on KISS concert tickets.
Alive! gave KISS the break it deserved and Destroyer finally cemented the band’s place as one of the biggest and best rock acts in the world. It was the fourth album since the band’s eponymous debut only two years earlier, encapsulating a rich time for the band and its ability to write popular and long-lasting rock songs.
It is amazing that after 35 years it sounds as good today as it ever has. I was introduced to KISS many years after the release of Destroyer, but it is thanks to tracks like “Detroit Rock City” and “God of Thunder” that makes it one of my favourite albums from the vast KISS catalogue.
1 – Detroit Rock City
2 – King of the Night Time World
3 – God of Thunder
4 – Great Expectations
5 – Flaming Youth
6 – Sweet Pain
7 – Shout It Out Loud
8 – Beth
9 – Do You Love Me?