Even amongst hardcore Kiss fans, this is an oddball. It’s considered a strange sidestep on their Hard-Glam-Rock/Heavy-Metal timeline. Having previously worked with producer Bob Ezrin on their Destroyer album (1976), and perhaps after seeing the success he’d had with Pink Floyd’s The Wall (1979), Kiss enlisted his services again for a full-blown concept alb, with the whole swords and castles and fantasy bit. It bombed. But me and my D&D role-playing buddies loved it. Along with Pink Floyd, Queen, Yes, Jethro Tull, and King Crimson, it became part of the soundtrack stable for game nights. The title and cover were all we needed to see, really. Coz it was an album that sounded like its cover: A mock gateway into in the cavernous imagination of four NYC cock-rockers (in capes and make-up) trying to go Tolkien. Which – God bless’em – didn’t really work. And this was the reason most Kiss fans wrote it off. It tried to be a prog-rock concept album, but also wanted to be a rockin’ Kiss album. It was Kiss out of their depth, trying to work within a genre they weren’t really familiar with. But that was one of the album’s charms. There is an un-ironic innocence to it (kind of). You can tell they’re trying (kind of). Some of the lyrics are embarrassingly corny, like a teenager’s first attempt at fantasy storytelling, covering all the clichés of the genre. (That’s why it suited D&D so well.) The opening line of the album is: Like a blade of a sword I am forged in flame, fiery hot, which is actually one of the better ones. There’s “Odyssey” with: From a far off galaxy/ I hear you calling me/ We are on an odyssey/ Through the realms of time and space/ In that enchanted place/ You and I come face to face. (Sung like they’re spotlighted on a dry-iced stage with a skull in their hand.) And it just gets better with the chorus: Once upon not yet/ Long ago someday (See what they did there? – Clever wordplay). But like I said, I love it. “The Oath”, “Just A Boy”, “Odyssey”, “Dark Light”, “Under The Rose”, “A World Without Heroes”, they’re actually cool songs, and Bob Ezrin knew how to make things sound epic. So if you wanna rock out in your lounge room Tenacious D style, it doesn’t get much better than this.
~ DECOY SPOON