For our money, some of the very best Kiss songs feature founding bassist Gene Simmons indulging his demonic side. Don't get us wrong, we've got nothing against songs about sex or rock and roll. But, somehow when the man born as Chaim Witz starts ruminating on the evil within man's soul, we get scared in a particularly good way. To celebrate Gene's 64th birthday (Aug. 25, 1949), we take a look at the 10 Most Demonic Gene Simmons Kiss Songs:
'Not for the Innocent'From 'Lick it Up' (1983)
"Bad habits drip like honey / No tongue can lick me clean"
Justifiably concerned that having their iconic masked images sold on everything from bedsheets to dolls had softened their image -- to say nothing of the overly poppy music featured on albums like 1979's 'Dynasty' -- Kiss took the greasepaint off and let Gene get down to serious business again on songs like this one. He quickly draws a line in the sand between himself and the nice folks, and over a storming Vinnie Vincent guitar riff, warns the innocent masses that playtime is now over.
'Mr. Blackwell'From 'Music from the Elder' (1981)
"I am a sinner who just loves to sin"
This is a great, truly demonic Gene Simmons song that got lost amidst the high-minded goals of Kiss' much-bashed 1981 concept record. Over a downright funky, stop-start bass groove, Mr. Blackwell (the fashion critic? doubtful..) is brought to shame time and time again by Simmons, who asserts that while he's far from a saint himself, even he can tell that his foe is "not well." He finally goes on to declare his enemy worthy of a one-way trip to hell.
'Rock and Roll Hell'From 'Creatures of the Night' (1982)
"There ain't nobody gonna tell him what to do"
Even a demon can get lonely or depressed sometimes, and that's how we find our hero and his gurgling bass at the start of this mini-epic. It's pretty easy to read this song as an autobiographical account of the rough spot Kiss was in when this album was released, but it's also clear Simmons wasn't going down without a fight. As the song churns steadily along, his resolve, determination (and don't forget ego) return to their natural god-like sizes, and it becomes clear Kiss's time at the top isn't over yet.
'Goin' Blind'From 'Hotter Than Hell' (1974)
"I'm 93, You're 16...."
OK on one hand, the lyrics of this song: "And I know how it's to be / There is nothing more for you and I" seem more noble than demonic. After all, he's telling this young girl she needs to leave him, and live the rest of her life in happiness. But back up a minute, what was a 93-year old man doing in the (presumably romantic) company of a 16-year old girl in the first place?
'I Love It Loud'From 'Creatures of the Night' (1982)
"Two-fisted, till the very end!"
Now, granted, this is borderline, subject matter-wise, but once you've watched Gene Simmons spit blood, then fly up into the rafters and lead army after army in singing this song's famous "hey-eh-eh-hey-yeah" chant in concert, we think you'll agree that 'I Love it Loud' ranks as a battle anthem worthy of a demon. We dig the way his borderline-rapped vocals go along with those insanely thunderous drums, too. (P.S. why on earth did they ever remix this song so weakly for the 'Smashes, Thrashes and Hits' set?)
'Almost Human'From 'Love Gun' (1977)
"The moon is out, I think I'm gonna change..."
Simmons and his original bandmates in Kiss were at the height of their commercial and creative powers when they unleashed 'Love Gun,' the last of their "classic era" studio albums. So maybe you can forgive Gene for thinking he'd perhaps evolved into something beyond mere mortal man on this song, especially considering the menacing groove Paul Stanley and Ace Frehley give him to work with here.
'War Machine'From 'Creatures of the Night' (1982)
"Set the demons free, and watch them fly!"
Boy, Simmons sure did have a chip on his shoulder about being considered a rock has-been when it came time to make the 'Creatures of the Night,' album, huh? Here, as he rides atop a positively sinister guitar riff (which the Stone Temple Pilots sure did seem to be fans of), Gene declares himself a one-man army ready to take on any and all pretenders to his throne. He does also find time to throw some fatherly advice out to any young demons following his lead: "Armageddon is just a matter of time / Your freedom's just a state of mind."
'Unholy'From 'Revenge' (1992)
"I'm the infection and famine that's knocking at your door."
Reportedly, Kiss hired a marketing firm to find out what fans wanted from them prior to the recording of 1992's 'Revenge' album. Word came back that less hair-metal, and more Simmons songs, was the desired recipe. You could argue that's a bit of a calculated way to go about things, but whatever it took to fully wake up the demon is OK by us. Particularly since it resulted in this absolutely nasty stomper of a song (check out the dramatic bass and drums groove around 2:08), which finds Gene embodying all the evil and sin in the world and then shoving it back in our pathetic human faces.
'Watchin' You'From 'Hotter Than Hell' (1974) and 'Alive!' (1975)
"And I'm trying baby, trying not to stare"
Simmons' evil alter-ego seems to be operating within our normal daily world this time out, as opposed to conquering wastelands as he does most of the time. Still, there's something particularly creepy about the way he's chosen a limping woman as his predatory target for the evening. Even he admits in 'Kiss: Behind the Mask', ""Limping as you do / And I'm watching you" doesn't make a whole lot of sense. It's just literally what came out." Yeah, out of the mind of a sick demon, maybe!
'God of Thunder'From 'Destroyer' (1976)
"I gather darkness to please me, and I command you to kneel!"
Gene's partner in all things Kiss, Paul Stanley, was upset at first when producer Bob Ezrin took 'God of Thunder,' which Stanley wrote, and turned it over to Simmons. But it was quickly agreed that slowing down Paul's original version, and switching out the loverman lyrics for some classic "lord of the waste land"-type bragging and boasting, was a masterstroke. The song cemented the Demon's image in the hearts and minds of impressionable young listeners everywhere. (Of course, they sped it right back up again for the almost equally mind-blowing 'Alive II' version.)
See how well you know Gene, Paul and the rest with the little-known facts on this exclusive video!