Ever since 1985's Asylum, KISS' studio output has been spotty (at best). But give them credit: Monster is an awfully punchy album for a band that has been around since the Nixon administration. Not surprisingly, their vigor is in large part attributable to their newest member: guitarist and songwriter Tommy Thayer. Yes, it's sacrilege that he dons Ace's make-up, but dude can shred. Which he most certainly does on standouts "Back to the Stone Age," "The Devil is Me" and the Zep-fried "Wall of Sound." In other news: Paul Stanley's sexy talk is still cheesy. But hey, some things never change.