I have a confession to make: I am a lifelong, diehard KISS fan. Hardcore music fans often scoff at the band’s blatant commercialism, merchandising, all-too-willingness to sell-out and their blatant ripoffs of each decade’s popular music genres (their 1996 “grunge” effort, Carnival of Souls, is still the funniest thing I’ve ever listened to). To me, however, all of that lies in their appeal; a combination of the “so bad it’s good” mentality and a nostalgia for their early to mid-70s efforts, which remain legitimate masterpieces.
Part of KISS‘ appeal also stems from their album covers. Virtually all of their make-up era album covers are iconic in their own right, from their eponymous debut, to albums like the legendary Destroyer and Creatures of the Night. Even their 2009 return, Sonic Boom, they had a cover that harkened back to 1976’s Rock and Roll Over. Needless to say, I am immensely excited for their upcoming release Monster. Or at least, I was, until I browsed the Wikipedia page for the album only to discover the cover, which is pictured above.
This is not just some publicity photo. Nor is it the cover they used for the Japanese or Korean release, or anything random like that. This is the actual cover of the freakin’ album.
There are a multitude of things wrong with the cover of KISS‘ Monster, but the biggest issue is that there isn’t anything remotely special or eye grabbing about it. It’s just a stock picture of the band, the kind you would expect to find on the band’s website circa 2002.
Plus, the band members just look pasted on (right over the band’s logo, no less!), with no clear attempt to set them into the album art at all. If it weren’t for Paul Stanley sensually caressing Gene Simmons’ chest, I would have to assume that none of the band members were even at the photo shoot on the same day.
Top it off with the album title’s font looking like it’s straight from a bad 80’s album (though I suppose that isn’t fair, considering it’s still KISS we’re talking about), this is just one poorly designed album cover.
It’s not that the cover is embarrassingly bad (read: Lady Gaga’s Born this Way); if it were it would at least be entertainingly so. It’s just embarrassingly lazy. KISS may be known for being marketing whores, but at least it usually seems like they put a little effort into it.
I’ve put up with a lot of KISS‘ shenanigans over the years, so believe me when I say that this really shakes my confidence with them. Of course, it could be argued that I’m setting my standards too high for a band that has been wearing clown make-up for over 30 years. But these were my IDOLS growing up — their relentless merchandising only cemented their status as rock and roll superheroes to my 10 year-old brain. There’s a great deal of nostalgia associated to these aging, Jewish clowns, so to see my heroes appear so lazy is just a little bit heartbreaking to me.
To quote from KISS‘ own A World Without Heroes:
A world without heroes
Is like a world without sun
You can’t look up to anyone