KISS Carnival of Souls The Final SessionsKISS
Carnival Of Souls
aka: CARNIVAL OF SOULS: THE FINAL SESSIONS
Release date: 1997 Mercury Records
Produced by: Toby Wright, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley.
Tracks: Hate - Rain - Master & Slave - Childhood's End - I Will Be There - Jungle - In My Head - It Never Goes Away - Seduction Of The Innocent - I Confess - In The Mirror - I Walk Alone.

Carnival of Soul-Searching.
Album Review by Jon Dunmore © November 2005.


Something happened to Kiss before they re-donned the makeup in 1996 - they grew up.

The Carnival Of Souls album displays a ferocious maturity, unmatched by any Kiss album to date. A sweeping statement to be sure, especially pertaining to a band whose career has lasted longer than fully half their fan-base's lifetimes. But I choose my description carefully: "maturity" being the key word.

No more lyrics rooted in pawdying and pussying - Abandon All Innocence Ye Who Enter: evocative themes abound, as varied as lost youth and suicide, paternal dedication, false religion, concrete jungle nights, introspective emptiness… a regular carnival of soul!

Standout tracks include: the somehow-nostalgic Childhood's End, Paul's dedication to his son, I Will Be There, the rumbling, tumbling Jungle, the doomsaying It Never Goes Away, the cello-tinged, jagged-beaten I Confess - but seriously, they're all winners.

Simmons' and Stanley's songwriting is at a peak they will probably never attain again, ensconced as they now are in the "nostalgia" game, till world's end we presume. Eric Singer and Bruce Kulick are at long last entrenched musically as Band Members, and add volumes to Gene and Paul's dynamism, Kulick carving memorable Frehley-ish licks to Singer's succinct, whiplash pummeling (one of the few drummers who can pull off double-kick with taste and finesse!). A tragedy that these two musicians were lost to the makeup craze (- at least Singer is back in the fold, lending his awe-inspiring limbs to The Cat's prowess).

Of course I can appreciate the wild nostalgia of youth and the "magic" that certain periods in history evoke, but in putting this as simply as possible: this album's songwriting, performance and production are unequalled in the Kiss oeuvre. Sure, I'd be as inclined as the next Starchild to spin Strutter over In The Mirror - but the two songs should not even stand side by side on the above aspects, separated as they are by over two decades of personal growth, loss, career swoons and startling amounts of puss-in-boots.

Due to unfortunate circumstances of politics and marketing, though Carnival Of Souls was recorded in 1995, its release was staved off until 1997, when the Reunion momentum was well underway. It made Kiss look confused; it confused Kiss fans. And any shelved album always casts doubts on that album's intrinsic worth. I meet fans even today who are debating on whether to purchase this album.

Darker, deeper, more dangerous than any of the bands whose "modern" sounds Kiss emulated on this album, it intimates a bold, unapologetic direction they would have taken had the Reunion never been. Haphazardly packaged, unknown and unadvertised, this release is pure Black Diamond. Buy it - you've got Nothin' to Lose…


END







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Update: 2005, Nov 11

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