Kiss Albums Ranked From Worst to Best

Imagine spinning a vinyl record of Kiss’s debut album on your modern turntable. You’re about to embark on an auditory journey through the landscape of arguably one of the most influential and controversial rock bands in history.

This is a journey that’ll take you from the lows of ‘Peter Criss’ to the highs of ‘Destroyer.’ You’re in for a ride, as we dissect the discography of a band that’s created a rift in the rock and roll world, one album at a time.

Want to know why ‘Psycho Circus’ didn’t quite hit the mark or why ‘Love Gun’ remains a fan-favorite? Stay tuned.

Key Takeaways

  • ‘Peter Criss: The Lowest Rank’ is considered the weakest link in the KISS solo album chain and is ranked at the lowest rank among KISS albums.
  • ‘Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions’ is a controversial album that divided KISS fans and represents a unique phase in the band’s studio records.
  • ‘Psycho Circus’ was a disappointing album that fell flat, despite having great songs, due to minimal contributions from Ace Frehley and Peter Criss.
  • ‘Hot in the Shade’ is a mixed bag album that presents a departure in quality and style, with demo recordings and a loss of Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons’ hard rock roots.

Peter Criss: The Lowest Rank

Often regarded as the weakest link in the KISS solo album chain, ‘Peter Criss: The Lowest Rank’ disappointingly scored a mere 2.0 out of 5.0 stars in reviews, primarily due to its unexpected deviation towards R&B and Soul genres.

As you rank KISS albums from worst to best, you’ll find this original band member’s album at the lowest rank, overshadowed by Paul’s and Gene’s studio albums.

The Controversial Carnival Of Souls

While Peter Criss’s solo album languishes at the bottom of the pile, controversy swirls around another notable entry in KISS’s discography: ‘Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions’. This American rock album, representing a departure from classic KISS songs, continues to divide KISS fans.

  • Represents a unique phase in KISS’s studio records
  • Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons experimented with a grunge sound
  • Ranked among both the best and worst KISS albums

Psycho Circus: The Low-Point

Diving into the depths of KISS’s discography, you find ‘Psycho Circus,’ a reunion album that sadly fell flat due to the minimal contributions from Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, and the lackluster response it received.

Ranked from worst, it didn’t live up to the classic Kiss album feel, despite its great songs and striking album cover.

The title track was the only Kiss feature reminiscent of the band’s studio glory.

Hot In The Shade: A Mixed Bag

‘Hot in the Shade’ can be quite perplexing to dissect. This album, laden with demo recordings, presents a departure in quality and style, notably with Paul’s tracks drawing comparisons to Bon Jovi.

Yet, the fresh dynamic brought by Eric Carr’s vocals offers an intriguing facet to explore.

Hot In The Shade” Overview

Imagine the surprise when KISS’s ‘Hot In The Shade’ turned out to be a patchwork of demos, a move that largely affected the album’s overall quality and consistency.

  • The album didn’t reach the US Top like the bands’ original lineup’s solo albums, leaving many a Kiss fan disappointed.
  • Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons’ hard rock roots got lost in the mix, leaving the album lacking in rock and roll authenticity.
  • Despite its inconsistencies, it still holds a place in the ‘Kiss Albums Ranked From Worst to Best’ list.

Notable Track Highlights

Despite its shortcomings, ‘Hot in the Shade’ still boasts a few noteworthy tracks that give glimpses of the band’s talent and potential.

It’s a mixed bag for the KISS Army, lacking the sonic boom of ‘Crazy Nights’ or the intensity of ‘Creatures of The Night’. Yet, it isn’t as disappointing as ‘Music From The Elder’ and has more to offer than some Kiss solo albums.

Fan Reception and Impact

While the tracks on ‘Hot in the Shade’ offer a glimpse into the band’s potential, the fan reception and overall impact of the album paint a more complex picture.

  • It mirrored the diversity of New York City, yet lacked the raw energy of Ace Frehley’s album.
  • It was the first Kiss album since the four solo albums that didn’t fully satisfy every Kiss fan’s prayers.
  • Yet, it contained ‘God Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll’, a moment that every Kiss fan had dreamed of.

Climbing Up: Music From The Elder

In the annals of Kiss’s discography, ‘Climbing Up: Music From The Elder’ stands as a grandiose concept album, revered by a small group of diehard fans as a lost classic, despite the band’s disavowal and the barrage of negative reviews it initially received.

With Bob Ezrin back, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss would come back, proving ‘Music From The Elder’, a perfect title. While Gene was still coasting, Stanley played alongside Eric Singer, creating a unique dynamic.

The Underrated: Lick It Up

Often overlooked, ‘Lick It Up’ marks a pivotal moment in KISS’s career, shedding their iconic makeup for the first time and introducing a rawer, more stripped-down sound. This move not only rejuvenated their career but also reinforced their status as rock legends.

‘Lick It Up’ is an underrated gem among Kiss albums.

Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Eric Carr, and Tommy Thayer faced the hair metal era and competition with bands head-on.

It ranks high in showing the band’s adaptability and resilience.

Near the Top: Alive II

As we approach the summit of our KISS album ranking, you’ll find ‘Near the Top: Alive II’.

This 1977 live album not only demonstrates the band’s on-stage prowess, but also its significant cultural impact during this era.

Let’s explore the track analysis and the broader implications this album had on KISS’s legacy.

Alive II: Track Analysis

Diving into the track analysis of ‘Alive II’, you’ll quickly realize why this album – a fiery testament to KISS’s live prowess – skyrocketed to No.7 on the US chart.

Notably, Alive II features:

  • Ace Frehley’s electrifying guitar riffs
  • Eric and Peter Criss’s rhythm section driving the rock and roll energy
  • Classic tracks that encapsulate the essence of KISS’s albums

This analysis underscores Alive II’s remarkable contribution to rock music.

Impact on KISS Legacy

Consider the monumental impact of Alive II on KISS’s legacy. This album not only showcased their electrifying live performances but also confirmed their status as one of the top live rock acts of their era. With the debut of lead guitarist Bruce, perfectly suited for Stanley, Gene, and Paul, it solidified Alive II for pure rock ‘n roll. The best songs, like ‘God Gave Rock ‘N Roll to You,’ have forever marked its impact on the KISS legacy.

The Best: Destroyer

Undeniably, ‘Destroyer’ stands as KISS’s crowning achievement, showcasing their musical prowess with hits like ‘Detroit Rock City’ and ‘God Of Thunder.’ This platinum and returned album features Paul Stanley’s notable contributions and marked the comeback of Simmons.

  • The first three albums led to ‘Destroyer’
  • It’s the album to feature lead tracks ‘Roll All Nite’ and ‘Gave Rock ‘N’ Roll’
  • Continued KISS’s success after their first two studio albums


So there you have it, folks! From the train wreck that was ‘Peter Criss’ to the masterpiece ‘Destroyer,’ we’ve traversed the rocky terrain of Kiss’s discography.

It’s a wild ride, isn’t it? We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve questioned our life choices.

But remember, in the end, it’s all in good fun. Because no matter what, Kiss’s music, for better or worse, has shaped rock and roll.

And isn’t that what really matters?

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