Revisiting KISS masterpiece “Destroyer”

A defining album that was released on this day in 1976

Revisiting KISS masterpiece “Destroyer”

“Destroyer” it’s the KISS album that even non-fans can like. This is a record that consists in a collection of some of the band’s best songs in which the lead vocals are perfectly distributed between Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, with the exception of Peter Criss’s “Beth”, one of the highlights of his career. Released at the peak of their popularity, in 1976, “Destroyer” has Heavy Metal, Hard Rock, Pop and even Symphonic Rock all blend together.An instant classic, it features enduring KISS songs and Rock hits “Detroit Rock City”, “God Of Thunder”, “Do You Love Me”, “Shout It Out Loud” and “Beth”. The production, that was given to Bob Ezrin, who had previously worked with Alice Cooper, made the songs in the album even stronger. Ezrin, introduced to Kiss were sound effects, strings, screaming children, reversed drums (on “God of Thunder”) and a children’s choir. The song “Great Expectations” uses the first phrase of the main theme from the second movement of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13 (known as Sonata Pathétique), but songwriting is credited to Simmons and Ezrin. 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.” But despite being now considered an absolute and essential Rock classic, “Destroyer” wasn’t well welcomed by critics at the time, only in later years the album has received recognition. In 1989, Kerrang! magazine listed the album at No. 36 among the “100 Greatest Heavy Metal Albums of All Time”. In 2003, it was ranked No. 489 on Rolling Stone magazine’s (that didn’t gave a favorable critic when it was originally released) list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2006, it was placed at No. 60 on Guitar World magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Albums of All Time. The cover art for Destroyer was painted by fantasy artist Ken Kelly. Kelly was invited to a show and given a backstage pass. He said of the performance, “It blew me away.” Kelly was later commissioned by the band to draw the cover for 1977’s “Love Gun”, the art for those two albums remains among the most iconic of the band. “Destroyer” it’s an essential album in any record collection, a golden milestone on KISS’s career, that can still earn them new fans to this day, and even if it doesn’t, at least gives the album itself new fans.

Side A
1 “Detroit Rock City” Paul Stanley, Bob Ezrin
2 “King of the Night Time World” Stanley, Kim Fowley, Mark Anthony, Ezrin
3 “God of Thunder” Stanley
4 “Great Expectations” Gene Simmons, Ezrin

Side B
5 “Flaming Youth” Ace Frehley, Stanley, Simmons, Ezrin
6 “Sweet Pain” Simmons
7 “Shout It Out Loud” Stanley, Simmons, Ezrin
8 “Beth” Peter Criss, Stan Penridge, Ezrin
9 “Do You Love Me” Stanley, Fowley, Ezrin
10 “Rock and Roll Party” Simmons, Stanley, Ezrin

Paul Stanley : vocals, rhythm guitar
Ace Frehley: lead guitar, backing vocals
Gene Simmons: vocals, bass guitar
Peter Criss: drums, percussion, vocals, lead vocals on “Beth”

Additional Personnel
Dick Wagner: guitar solo on “Sweet Pain” and “Flaming Youth”, acoustic guitar on “Beth” and “Great Expectations”
New York Philharmonic: orchestra on “Beth”
Bob Ezrin: orchestration, keyboards, piano on “Beth”
Brooklyn Boys Chorus: : additional vocals on “Great Expectations”
David and Josh Ezrin: voices on “God of Thunder”

Produced by:Bob Ezrin
Recorded during: 3–6 September 1975 at Electric Lady Studios and January–February 1976 at Record Plant Studios, New York City
Released: March, 15, 1976
Label: Casablanca

“Shout It Out Loud” Released: March 1, 1976
“Flaming Youth” Released: April 30, 1976
“Detroit Rock City” Released: July 28, 1976
“Beth” Released: August 1976

Strongest tracks:
“Detroit Rock City”, “King of the Night Time World”, “God of Thunder”, “Great Expectations”, “Shout It Out Loud”, “Beth”, “Shout It Out Loud”. “Do You Love Me”

Watch KISS performing “Shout It Out Loud” taken from the 1978 film “KISS Meets The Phantom Of The Park”

Listen to the album “Destroyer” on Spotify

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David Warren

David Warren an editor and author for Pop Expresso and in the free time enjoys making instrumental music - -  and to learn about history and cultures. Reach out at

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