I was listening to Hair Nation the other day (The Howard Stern Show was probably on a commercial break), and they played, "Hate" by KISS, off of the Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions album, and the song really got me thinking. Obviously, this was an attempt by KISS to latch on to the grunge era and to try to stay relevant and sell some albums. The problem was that the effort was so disingenuous, and it just didn't sound like KISS. Now I understand a band changing and growing, but I do not think that occurred here. Lyrics like, "Tell me what you want me to be, I can't stand myself anymore" just did not make sense. Were we to believe that Paul Stanley (the Star Child from the 1970s that was able to shoot lasers out of his eye and defeat the androids that had taken over Magic Mountain in Southern California) was suddenly a member of the disenfranchised youth? Did KISS believe that this segment of the music buying population would be able to relate to their music? To me, it appeared to be more of a desperate ploy to 'hang with the cool kids,' and it made me feel bad for the band.
The whole song got me thinking about KISS' career once the make-up came off. Creatures of the Night and Lick it Up were both great rock albums. Animalize was a decent album as well, and no one can deny the brilliance that is "Heavens on Fire" (though the rest of the album is hit or miss, including the classic lyric about the log and the fireplace). From there you go to Asylum (which had a number of catchy singles) and then Crazy Nights (which, admittedly, the band was trying for a Bon Jovi-type sound, heavy on the keyboards).
KISS were innovators when they debuted on the scene in the early/mid 1970s, and they put on a show that was second to none. But without the make-up, they really lost their identity, and were like a rudderless ship, simply chasing fads in music and trying to keep up with the other, more successful artists. That isn't to say they didn't put out some great music, but they really lost their status as leaders, and were clearly followers during this time period. Carnival of Souls, to me, is the culmination of this lack of direction, as they recorded an album is just reaching for something that was not there. But of course, as with any KISS album, there are always bright spots, and to this day, I say the song "Childhood's End" is an amazing song from the KISS catalog that unfortunately was buried on this album that is bypassed by most.
Am I wrong, or is this the worst KISS album ever recorded?