By 1982, things weren’t going too well in the Kiss camp. After trying their hand at disco with the fan alienating Dynasty in 1979, and two ill fated records in 1980’s Unmasked and 1981’s concept album The Elder, Kiss was faced with an internal crisis. Drummer Peter Criss was already long gone and lead guitarist Ace Frehley was losing interest in the band, frustrated at his bandmates for going in a more mainstream direction and losing himself into alcohol and various other substances. He would make a few appearances promoting the record but did not actually played on the album and would officially leave soon after its release.
Strangely enough, while Frehley did not participate in the recording sessions, Creatures Of The Night would prove to be Kiss heaviest record up to that point. This is mainly because of two factors. First thanks to hard hitting drummer Eric Carr who gives here a masterful performance and demonstrates that he is definitely more than capable of filling Peter Criss’s shoes. It can also be argued that he was a far more accomplished and technical drummer.
Second, Creatures Of The Night greatly benefited due to the enlistment of a character who will become part of the Kiss legend, even if his contributions will often be overlooked and the subject of numerous legal disputes. He could nevertheless be credited as responsible for putting Kiss back on track at a delicate time in their career: Mr. Vinnie Vincent. Performing most of the lead guitar duties, Vincent also co-penned three songs including the timeless classic “I love it Loud.” He would have an even greater impact on the next album, 1983’s Lick It Up with 8 co-writing credits out of 10 songs, enabling Kiss to return to platinum status.
Benefiting from the inputs of a few outside writers, Creatures Of The Night displays Kiss in top form for the first time since 1977’s Love Gun and every track shows that the band hasn’t lost any of its original power. Check out “Keep me coming,” “Saint and Sinner,” or the heavy weight “War Machine.” All of them generate a feeling of intensity and the tandem Stanley/Simmons display a rage to conquer again that was merely absent from the previous three records. I already mentioned “I love It Loud” which, while simple in structure, succeeds in delivering a strong and powerful heavy metal anthem. It is still a staple in the band’s set list today and an ultimate fan favorite. Even the ballad “I still love you” provides a sense darkness while still rocking hard (something that Kiss will fail to repeat a few years later while trying to catch the hair metal train).
Even if it was received with mixed reviews at the time of its release, Creature Of The Night was the first step in Kiss taking control of their career again and regaining their legion of fans. The album would later be certified gold in 1994 for sales in excess of 500,000 in the US.
One of Kiss most consistent record and all time best. Every song is a killer and I personally consider it as good as their eponymous record. Often overlooked as it was released outside of the band classic era, it is an hidden germ that will give any fan of Destroyer or Love Gun a new and refreshing look on the New York quartet. An album for connoisseurs!