Destroyer is the
fourth studio album and fifth album overall by hard rock band
Kiss, released on March 15, 1976 in the United States. It was the second consecutive Kiss album to
reach the Top 20 in the United States, as well as the first to
chart in Germany and New Zealand.
The album was certified
gold by the RIAA
on April 22
. It was
certified platinum on November 11
, the first Kiss album to achieve that
Coming on the heels of the group's breakthrough album Alive!
easily the most ambitious studio recording of Kiss's '70s
catalogue. Bob Ezrin
, who had previously
worked with Alice Cooper
, was brought
in to produce the album. Among the production flourishes Ezrin
introduced to Kiss were sound effects, strings, screaming children
and reversed drums (on "God of Thunder") as well as a children's
is the first Kiss album to prominently feature
outside musicians, such as members of the New York
Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra. However, one musician was not
credited: Dick Wagner
, from Alice
Cooper's band, replaced Ace Frehley
tracks such as "Sweet Pain" (as Frehley didn't want to interrupt a
card game he was playing during recording sessions for the song)
and even on a song that Frehley himself co-wrote, "Flaming Youth".
Wagner also played the acoustic guitar found on the song "Beth".The
success of Alive!
enabled the band
to embark on their first tour of Europe
Throughout the years, "Detroit
", "God of
", "Shout It
", "King of the
Night Time World
", and "Do You Love Me?" have become permanent
staples on the band's concerts. "Beth
was last played live on the band's Dec. 20, 2003 concert at
Center in Fresno, CA the last show of the World Domination Tour; after drummer
Peter Criss' final departure, the band
permanently retired the song from their set list.
In 2003, the album was ranked number 496 on Rolling Stone
magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of
After attaining modest commercial success with their first three
studio albums, Kiss achieved a commercial breakthrough with the
1975 concert album Alive!
It was the first album by
the band to be certified
and eventually went multi-platinum. The success of Alive!
which spent 110 weeks on the charts, benefited not only the
struggling band but their cash-strapped label, Casablanca Records
. Kiss signed a new
contract with Casablanca in late 1975, partly because the label had
been very supportive from the start of the band's career. The
contract was only for two albums, however, an indication that
Casablanca was unsure if the group could duplicate the
accomplishments of Alive!
Rehearsals for Destroyer
began in August 1975, while the
group was embarked on their supporting tour for Alive! Bob
, who had produced a string of successful albums for
, was chosen to work with
Kiss. The band felt that Ezrin was the right person to help them
take their sound to the next level and to maintain the commercial
success they had achieved with Alive!
recording sessions for the album took place from September 3–6,
1975 at Electric Lady Studios
in New York
City, during a brief break between the Dressed to Kill and
The basic album tracks were recorded
during this time. The majority of the recording sessions for
took place in January 1976, after the conclusion
of the Alive!
The first demo
recorded during the
sessions was "Ain't None of Your Business,"
on vocals. The plodding,
heavy song, written by country
songwriters Becky Hobbs and Lew Anderson, was rejected by the band
and later appeared on the 1977 debut album by Michael Des Barres
' band Detective.
Although this song was rejected other outside songs and suggestions
were accepted by the band. In particular, Kim
and Mark Anthony became important contributors during
the songwriting process.
During the recording sessions Ezrin resorted to numerous tactics
designed to increase the quality of music Kiss recorded. Because
none of the group were trained musicians, Ezrin halted the sessions
at one point to provide lessons in basic music theory
. In an effort to instill a sense
of discipline, he wore a whistle around his neck and exhorted the
band with sayings such as, "C'mon campers, let's get going!" When
Simmons stopped playing early during the recording of an outro
Ezrin yelled at him, saying, "Don't you ever
stop a take unless I tell you!"
Paul Stanley later compared the experience of working with Ezrin as
"musical boot camp
" but said that
the group "came out a lot smarter for it." Simmons echoed the
sentiment by stating, "It was exactly what we needed at the time."
Lead guitarist Ace Frehley
, who did not
approach the recording process with the discipline Ezrin wanted,
often found himself at odds with the producer. He bristled at being
asked to perform multiple takes
of his solos,
and became uncooperative. As a result Ezrin brought in session
guitarist Dick Wagner
, Ezrin threatened
to replace Ace with him and Ace cooperated.
The cover art for Destroyer
was painted by fantasy artist
. Prior to the album's
release Kelly's work was brought to the attention of Gene Simmons,
who met with Kelly to discuss ideas for Destroyer
agreed but asked to see Kiss perform live first to gain
inspiration. He was invited to a show and given a backstage pass
. He later said of the
performance, "It blew me away." Kelly was later commissioned by the
band to draw the cover for 1977's Love
Kelly's original version of the album cover was rejected by the
record company because they felt the scene was too violent looking
with the rubble and flames. Also, the original version had the
members of KISS wearing the Alive Costumes.
The front cover shows the group striding on top of a pile of
, and a desolate background spotted
with destroyed buildings, some of which are engulfed in flames. The
back cover shows a similar scene, but with more buildings on fire.
The front of the LP-liner features a large Kiss logo and the lyrics
to "Detroit Rock City." The other side displays the lyric "SHOUT IT
OUT LOUD", as well as an advertisement for the Kiss Army
sold well upon its release on March 15
certified gold on April 22. Although exact sales figures are not
known, Paul Stanley stated that the album initially sold 850,000
copies in the U.S., well in excess of any of Kiss's first three
studio albums. After peaking at #11 on the Billboard album chart on
May 15, however, Destroyer
quickly fell and by August was
at #192. The first three singles — "Shout It Out Loud," "Flaming
Youth," and "Detroit Rock City" — failed to ignite sales any
further, leading the band and its management to view the album as a
failure relative to Alive!
The band and Ezrin cited fan
backlash as the reason Destroyer
did not meet sales
expectations. Ezrin also stated that the "grassroots rock press"
was particularly critical of the album. Rolling Stone
referred to "bloated
ballads," "pedestrian drumming," and "lackluster performances" in
It was not until radio stations started playing the B-side
of the "Detroit Rock City" single,
," that the album started to sell
as expected. The ballad, which according to Simmons was
deliberately put on the B-side to force stations to play "Detroit
Rock City," started receiving numerous listener requests and became
an unexpected hit. "Beth" was re-released as the fourth single in
late August, and it peaked at #7 on the Billboard singles chart on
September 25. It was the group's first Top 10 song and re-ignited
sales of the album. On November 11 Destroyer
first Kiss album to be certified platinum.
- Dick Wagner – guitar solos on "Flaming Youth" and "Sweet
Pain"; acoustic guitar on "Beth"
- Brooklyn Boys Chorus – vocals on "Great Expectations"
- David and Josh Ezrin – voices on "God of Thunder"
Charts and certifications
|U.S. Pop Albums
The following information regarding list placements attributed to
is taken from AcclaimedMusic.net.
(*) designates unordered lists.
||The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time
||The 100 Greatest American Albums of All Time
- Leaf and Sharp, Behind the Mask
- Leaf and Sharp, Behind the Mask, pp. 67–68.
- Gill, Kiss Album Focus, p. 178.
- Lendt, Kiss and Sell, pp. 40–41.
- Gill, Kiss Album Focus, p. 181.
- Gill, Kiss Album Focus, pp. 183-184.
- Gooch and Suhs, Kiss Alive Forever, p. 64.
- Gill, Kiss Album Focus, p. 185.
- Gill, Kiss Album Focus, pp. 185-189.
- Leaf and Sharp, Behind the Mask, pp. 253–254.
- Leaf and Sharp, Behind the Mask, p. 255.
- Leaf and Sharp, Behind the Mask, p. 256.
- Leaf and Sharp, Behind the Mask, p. 252.
- Gill, Kiss Album Focus, p. 188.
- Leaf and Sharp, Behind the Mask, p. 258.
- Gill, Kiss Album Focus, p. 202.
- Gill, Kiss Album Focus, pp. 203-204.