Shrapnel 1996 / Cleopatra 2015
Comet-driver gets covered in stardust – and stripped of cosmic glitter – to reveal the edge.
KISS have never been influential musicians. They’re revered as artists, yes, but not as musicians. Save for the group’s estranged guitarist whose sharpness always cut through the mask, and this mask is released here, on a tribute to Space Ace, albeit, quite understandably, most of Frehley’s followers focus on his former band’s hits, some going as far as picking songs he didn’t write, yet it’s four songs from the veteran’s eponymous solo album that fare best in the reimagining stakes.
Thus, Dimebag Darrell works wonders on “Fractured Mirror” melding acoustic and slide-kissed lines to a vibrant groove, while Scott Ian, flanked with his troupe of Frank Bello and Charlie Benante, inspiringly attacks “Rip It Out” adding heaviness and sharpness to it. Snake Sabo does the same thing to “Snowblind” with vocals provided by DANGEROUS TOYS’ Jason McMaster, although there’s no-one voice-wise to kick Sebastian Bach’s take on “Rock Bottom” out of the ballpark, with Russ Parish handling the riff part. But if Gilby Clarke’s wah-wah’s in “Shock Me” makes clear Ace’s imprint on GUNS N’ ROSES’ six-string ring, and Tracii Guns appropriates the thunder of “Parasite,” Marty Friedman fails to project his personality onto “Deuce” despite some fine licks and curlicues.
A mixed bag, then, but a nice homage to a player who still deserves wider acclaim.