Despite coming off a monster ballad with Hot in the Shade's Michael Bolton-penned "Forever," Kiss was plagued by financial instability due to Simmons and Stanley's extravagance; worse, drummer Eric Carr succumbed to cancer in November 1991. But even with the grunge movement in full effect, Kiss was luckily recognized as a major influence on everyone from Trent Reznor to Lenny Kravitz -- their '70s legacy intact despite the band's often dubious choices in the '80s. And even though they, too, were on the brink of commercial extinction, being savvy businessmen first and foremost, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley fully understood the lay of the land. Not only did they need to make a definitive record, they needed to completely re-invent themselves, visually and sonically. The first step was to secure hard rock veteran Eric Singer to fill Carr's shoes; next, the band rekindled its relationship with producer Bob Ezrin. Again, never ones to ignore lucrative business opportunities, Simmons and Stanley swallowed their pride and rejoined forces with former bandmate Vinnie Vincent. Together, they co-wrote Revenge's three centerpieces -- "Unholy," "I Just Wanna," and "Heart of Chrome." Bringing Vincent back to the Kiss fold ultimately proves to be the album's coup de grâce. Some of the cuts are excellent, delivered with conviction and panache, but for all the hype, the album is also tainted with filler. On the up tip, Ezrin's mongo-enormous production galvanizes the Kiss sound, making it fresh again. The band's promotional efforts would help propel the album's first-week sales sky high, culminating with a Top Ten Billboard chart entry, but indifference once again plagued the ensuing arena tour.
by John Franck