Kiss were in the midst of multiple crises in the early '80s, and 1982's Creatures of the Night was an attempt to claw out of confusion, reverse waning popularity, and return to true heavy metal form. Their flirtations with pop and disco on 1979's Dynasty and 1980's Unmasked had alienated die-hard fans, and their membership had been in upheaval throughout. Eric Carr took over on drums for 1981's convoluted concept album Music from "The Elder," and though it rocked, the record was too overwrought for many and flopped commercially. Guitarist Ace Frehley was checked out during this time as well, and while he was credited as playing on Creatures of the Night (and appeared on early editions of the album cover art) it was actually Vinnie Vincent who provided the burning leads and recharged playing that led the album. Ultimately the nine songs that make up the set were a return to form, falling back into loud and brawny riff-based rock, huge drum sounds, and power balladry, and adding technically improved performances to a sound that had been flailing for a while. Sinister groovers like "Rock and Roll Hell," party anthem "I Love It Loud," and the razor-sharp "War Machine" all put Kiss back in the ring with metal greats of the early '80s like Ozzy and Priest. The obligatory ballad "I Still Love You" is eerier and more tormented than Kiss' usual slowed-down material, keeping consistent with the intensity of the rest of the album. Though Creatures of the Night didn't end up returning Kiss to the level of commercial success they enjoyed in the '70s, it did bring them back to heavy metal with a vengeance, and set the tone for the rest of the '80s to follow suit. It's a weighty, ominous record, doing much to restore the balance of danger and fun that made their best work so exciting.
Creatures of the Night Review
by Fred Thomas