Album Review – Anomaly Vs. Sonic Boom Vs. BK3

I have been waiting a few months to put this comparison together, ever since I spoke to Bruce Kulick back in December for episode 12. At that time I asked him to give me his opinion on both Anomaly and Sonic Boom. We went over things briefly, and at the time he mentioned that he’d like to see someone compare all three albums once his came out. So here we are, comparing all three. Interestingly enough, both of us share the same opinion of Sonic Boom, more on that in a second.

Kiss is my all time favorite band, I can remember looking at the book that came with Alive II, and seeing the picture of Ace Frehley in his Love Gun outfit with a yellow light shining right over top of him. That image mesmerized me, and made me want to listen to the band, and music in general. Mr. Frehley you are to blame for initially infecting me with music! Kiss as a whole. As a result I have always followed (to the best of my ability) the band, and all of its former members. Now, I don’t have absolutely every album that the former member have put out (I don’t have the White Tiger album, or the majority of Peter Criss’ solo work), but I do have everything Ace, Bruce, and Vinnie have put out, and most of the two Eric’s material. This includes official releases and bootlegs. Long before the internet, there were the tape trading days (some of you remember), there was a small store called Second Sighting Records (Ace reference) that had a nice supply of live or unreleased Ace and Vinnie material on vinyl and cassette (Bruce was still in the band at the time). If I couldn’t get my fill there, well there was the yearly Kiss Expo (back then held in Teaneck, NJ at Fairley Dickinson), that had a lot of bootlegs on CD. I bring this up because I purchased a CD at one of the Expo’s that contains the song “Sister”, which ultimately made it onto Anomaly. At these Expos I have also been lucky enough to meet Bruce, Vinnie, and Eric Singer. As a result I have a signed copy of AudioDog, an album that in my opinion should have received way more attention then it garnered when it was released. “Change Is Coming” was the only song that to my knowledge received any airplay. But this album had “Need Me”, “I Don’t Mind”, and “Dogs Of Morrison” which should have all been on your local station. Especially the first and last tracks that I mentioned.

In any event, on with the comparison, what I’m doing is focusing on the tracks that I really enjoyed off of each album. Each one has a few good to great tracks, and there are two that in my opinion are head and shoulders above the other.

Let me start out with Sonic Boom, tracks I really enjoyed:

– Modern Day Delilah
– Say Yeah
– All For The Glory

First of all I was pumped to hear Kiss was finally going to put out a new album. I was also thrilled to hear that Tommy and Eric were going to sing on the album as well. The opinion that I shared with Bruce was that the album was originally supposed to be a 70’s sounding album, which it isn’t. What I also agree with is that this album can be a launch point what is to come next with the band, which is a good thing. Now I see this album fitting in more with the Hot In The Shades, Animalize and Asylums of the catalogue. Which isn’t bad, but to me albums like Creatures, Revenge, and Carnival of Souls still tower above it. Detractors for me are the fact that all of Gene’s lyrics are practically the same, nothing wrong with that, but due to this the songs don’t hold up like the others on the album. There are also moments where the band inadvertently copies themselves, or others. I don’t think this is done on purpose, but it’s still there. I still would have preferred an angry or defiant Gene or Paul on this album, but it is what it is. I have personally always found Kiss’ rebellious lyrics to be very empowering. The line in Creatures where Paul says “Remember when the clock strikes 12, the losers always win” captivated me the first time I heard it. It spoke to me, it made me feel that no matter how down I was, that there would be a time where the tables would be turned. “I Love It Loud”, “Unholy”, etc. angry songs, with attitude that made me want to get behind them and…..Say Yeah! The album is good, but I just don’t feel that, outside of the three songs listed above.

With Ace’s Anomaly, tracks that enjoyed are:

– Foxy & Free
– Outer Space
– Pain In The Neck
– Too Many Faces
– Sister
– Space Bear

Twenty years had passed since Trouble Walking, my favorite Ace album. And although this album does show a kinder side of Ace, it also still shows his hard rocking side as well. All of these songs show off Ace’s meat and potatoes no non-sense hard rocking sound. The second I heard “Outer Space” I was hooked, hearing Ace tune down to D (something I hadn’t noticed in any of his other recordings) sucked me in. The album sounds fresh, with an edge. All of the songs listed above really kick ass. As a bonus I was able to see Ace at the Viper Room back in September, he did play “Sister”, “Space Bear”, and “Outer Space” during the show. “Sister” is a song I’ve enjoyed since I originally heard it on the bootleg CD I mention above, it is one of my favorite Ace tunes. “Too Many Faces” incorporates some signature Anton Fig playing, which brings songs like “Torpedo Girl” and “Whipped Out” to mind. “Foxy & Free” has a great groove to it, while “Pain In The Neck” has a chorus that is bound to get stuck in your head.

So, I was chomping at the bit to finally listen to BK3, and see if it at least to measured
up or surpassed the other two. I also wanted the album to at least live up to Audio Dog, or the Union albums Bruce had released. I initially purchased the EP he released on iTunes, and once I heard John Corabi sing on “No Friend of Mine”, I knew things were going to be alright! Here are the tracks I enjoyed off of BK3.

– Fate
– Ain’t Gonna Die
– Hand Of The King
– No Friend Of Mine
– I’m The Animal
– And I Know

First off this album is chalked full of guests, Corabi (as mentioned above), Gene and Nick Simmons, Tobias Sammet, Eric Singer, Steve Luckather, and Doug Fieger. “Ain’t Gonna Die” is the best Gene Simmons track since Unholy, it has that attitude that is missing from Sonic Boom. “Hand of The King”, with Nick, also sounds better than any Simmons related material since at least Carnival of Souls. If you’re not privy to the fact that it’s Nick you’d swear it was his dad. The melodies in “No Friend of Mine” remind you how good Union actually was, and leave you clamoring for a continuation of this partnership. I’m not the biggest Edguy fan, but “I’m The Animal” is one of the best tracks I’ve heard in a while, again an infection chorus that has Eric Singer backing Tobias up. Wrapping things up are two tracks sung by Bruce “Fate” which was written by Kevin Churko (Ozzy producer, makes you wonder if Zakk was in mind when the song was written), a fast paced hard rocking track and “And I Know” which harkens back to Bruce’s previous two albums.

I honestly think that both Anomaly and BK3 have surpassed Sonic Boom. Ace and Bruce have shown us different facets of their writing and playing ability, and have matured with both of these albums. Sonic Boom is good, but it leaves me wanting to listen to some of their other material to get my fill of the band (been listening to a lot of Asylum as a result). I can’t say the same for BK3 or Anomaly, I put each of these albums on, and I’m right there start to finish. At no point do I think, let me listen to Trouble Walking, or “Dogs of Morrison”. It is also hard for me to choose between either one of those albums, as I enjoy both of them immensely.

Buy don’t pay me no mind, check out all three albums out, and determine for yourselves which of the three you enjoy the most!