KISS – Hotter Than Hell (Review)

KISS – Hotter Than Hell (1974 – with German logo variant!)

The meanest and heaviest album of KISS’ classic era. When their self-titled debut LP wasted no time in sliding out of the charts, KISS headed back into the studio to rush out a replacement, 1974’s Hotter Than Hell. This time ramping up the layers and distortion in an attempt to replicate the power of their live sound. The sludgy, messy end result is oft-criticised but I think the album has a dark, underground edge and the more metallic material here works really well. Songs like the genius riff-fest Parasite and the predatory Watchin’ You sound gritty and nasty. My main gripe is the stupidly slow tempos. Top tunes like Got To Choose, the title-track and Let Me Go Rock N’ Roll just sound like they need a good kick up the arse. But they’re still enjoyable versions if you just get into that blockier, doomier mindset and, best of all, there are no real clunkers here. They won’t show up on greatest hits sets but tracks like Comin’ Home, Goin’ Blind and Strange Ways are all choice deep cuts for the KISS connoisseur. Especially Strange Ways for its phenomenal whacked-out Ace Frehley guitar solo. Total attitude. Not their hottest album then but definitely one of their coolest, a rewarding evocation of KISS’ hungry years.

36 thoughts on “KISS – Hotter Than Hell (Review)”

  1. Agree with you 100% on this review! I think Ace was whacked out on the whole album to be quite honest with you and that’s why his playing is phenomenal on this album!
    It’s incredible that this one slid off the charts and right back to the studio for Dressed To Kill!
    Do you remember in the KISS Behind the Makeup book they Simmons said Criss was gonna quit if he couldn’t do a 10 drum solo on the album! Haha!
    With that line of thinking, I think there was 2 whacked out guys on Hotter Than Hell but they stepped up no matter what state of mind they were in!
    Great writeup!​

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Deke! Definite whacked out Ace. He’s the star here. His solo on Goin Blind is brilliant too.

      I think there was bad vibes all round in KISS at this point. They hated recording in LA rather than NY supposedly… they changed their tune about that over the years though eh?

      I read that about the Criss drum solo haha. Would love to hear that version. I think he threatened to leave if he didn’t sing Mainline too? One out of two isn’t bad!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Imagine that a 10 minute studio drum solo by Criss! Man I wish they did it. Thanks to this review I going to start writing about all 4 of the solo albums from 78! I’m setting aside two weeks of posts that will jsut focus on those 4 records since I have them on vinyl now!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Top 3 Kiss album for me. One of the first albums I ever got, by anyone.

    Yeah some of the slower tempos are a bit blocky, they weren’t all that loose in the studio were they? But they sure corrected the tempos on Kiss Alive….

    Liked by 2 people

    1. … and Dressed To Kill too. I really love HtH and the debut but they’ve never quite been in the top tier for me. Compare the demo of Let Me Go Rock N Roll on the box set to the HtH one. Much better. Much faster!

      But I still think its a great album anyway. Just can’t give it a full score cause of the sound/speed.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. My buddy’s book is called “Excess (I Love It)”. He’s comparing Kiss to “some of the accounts of Aristippus (435-350 BCE)”, he’s pretty serious about this!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review sir! Despite the lackluster production, still a great album and you are so right on the deep cuts, this album has them. Strange Ways and Goin’ Blind I really love. And on Strange Ways Ace had to have a great solo since he wrote it I believe.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. When I first listened to Kiss I went straight for Destroyer as the pick of the bunch. This, though, is fucking ace. I was drawn to its bonkerness (art) and stayed for the tunes. Sound / production wise, it’s everything Destroyer should be.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Nice point about the studio tempos – I know with a few tragically hip tunes, going back to the studio albums after hearing the live versions, the tempo, to borrow a phrase, could use an arse-kick!


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