Although Kiss released only three albums during the '90s, it was quite an eventful time for the group.

At the start of the decade, the group found themselves in a mirror version of their dilemma in the early '80s. In 1982, after squandering nearly all of their career momentum with questionable trend-chasing albums, they released the masterful Creatures of the Night, which didn't get nearly the attention it deserved. Chastened but determined, Kiss took off their trademark facepaint and clawed their way back to platinum sales and sold-out arenas with a string of successful '80s albums.

Although the situation wasn't nearly as dire, after closing out the '80s with a pair of somewhat disappointing albums - 1987's Crazy Nights and 1989's Hot in the Shade - Kiss hit it out of the park with 1992's Revenge, which much like Creatures failed to get its due on the sales charts.

This time, the band responded by putting their makeup back on, with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley bringing back founding members Peter Criss and Ace Frehley for a massively successful reunion tour that led to what can only be called a "reunion" album if you use air quotes. Oh, and before they they had a brief flirtation with grunge which resulted in a controversial but underrated album that sat on the shelf for a year before being unceremoniously dumped into the marketplace. It's all explained below, in our list of the Top 10 '90s Kiss Songs.

10. "Master & Slave"
From: Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions (1997)

Unlike his eager bandmate Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley was "dead set" against Kiss attempting to incorporate grunge music into their sound on the Carnival of Souls album. "I never believed the world needs a second-rate Soundgarden, Metallica or Alice in Chains," Stanley declared in the 2001 book Kiss: Behind the Mask. But as a good teammate the once and future Starchild gave it his best shot and even made the formula work a couple of times, most notably on the storming "Master & Slave."

Recorded with the Revenge-era Stanley / Simmons / Bruce Kulick / Eric Singer lineup, the album was shelved during the original lineup reunion tour, and released with little fanfare in late 1997 after being heavily bootlegged by fans.


9. "In My Head"
From: Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions (1997)

It's easy to see why Gene Simmons was excited by the darker, edgier sounds of the '90s alternative rock revolution, which suited his once (and again, future) demonic alter ego very nicely. He unleashes his most sinister growl on the savage "In My Head" while lead guitarist Bruce Kulick attacks the riffs like a bull that just broke out of his pen.


8. "Childhood's End"
From: Carnival of Souls: The Final Sessions (1997)

Simmons reaches back to the '70s on the surprisingly touching Carnival of Souls ballad "Childhood's End," incorporating a children's choir similar to the one on Destroyer's "Great Expectations" and even throwing a few lines from "God of Thunder" in near the end of the song.


7. "Within"
From: Psycho Circus (1998)

After mounting a highly successful full-makeup reunion tour in 1996, Kiss' original lineup attempted to record a new studio album together. Just one problem: Stanley and Simmons didn't really trust Ace Frehley and Peter Criss to carry their own weight and recorded most of the album without them. Psycho Circus only occasionally sounds like a '70s throwback, instead offering up an enjoyable tour through most of the band's former eras. With Bruce Kulick on lead guitar, Simmons' "Within" offers up a slightly psychedelic twist on Revenge-style hard rock, complete with heady lyrics that make you wonder if somebody slipped the famously anti-drug bassist a brownie.


6. "I Just Wanna"
From: Revenge (1992)

Reunited with producer Bob Ezrin two decades after Destroyer, Kiss delivered their hardest-hitting and most consistent album since 1982's Creatures of the Night with Revenge. The kinetic "I Just Wanna" takes Eddie Cochran's "Summertime Blues" and pumps it full of all kind of steroids. Bonus points must be awarded for the gorgeous mid-song vocal breakdown section.


5. "I Pledge Allegiance to the State of Rock & Roll"
From: Psycho Circus (1998)

Unpopular opinion alert: The title track to Psycho Circus is an admirable near-miss, an example of the band trying a bit too hard to craft an epic new anthem. Despite its unwieldy title, Stanley's "I Pledge Allegiance to the State of Rock & Roll" is a much more relaxed, confident and enjoyable rocker, with the Starchild trading guitar licks with Tommy Thayer, who would replace Frehley in the Spaceman outfit in a few short years.


4. "Spit"
From: Revenge (1992)

Kiss lets their guard down on Revenge's most exciting and most fun track. Stanley and Simmons trade lead vocals and openly steal Spinal Tap's "The bigger the cushion, the better the pushin'" line, while Kulick offers up his take on "The Star-Spangled Banner" mid-song. It's like the band either finally got the joke or finally revealed they were in on it all along.


3. "Into the Void"
From: Psycho Circus (1998)

According to Psycho Circus engineer Mike Plotnikoff, it took a lot of work to complete "Into the Void," the only track on Kiss' 1998 "reunion" album to actually feature the four original members of the band playing their individual instruments. "If we had to cut the [whole] album with only the four original members of Kiss it would have taken a year," he noted in Kiss: Behind the Mask.

The thing is, it might have been worth it to try that. While the rest of the record is very good - underrated, in fact - none of the other songs have quite the same swagger or swing of the Ace Frehley-fronted "Into the Void," proving that the chemistry between the original goup members could still yield impressive results, however difficult it was to mine them.


2. "God Gave Rock and Roll to You II"
From: Revenge (1992)

Originally released on the soundtrack to 1991's Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, Kiss' cover of Argent's "God Gave Rock and Roll to You" was the start of their Revenge-era collaboration with producer Bob Ezrin, and also sadly the last song to feature Eric Carr (on vocals) before his November 1991 death. The song works as both a fitting capstone to Carr's decade in the band and a powerful restatement of purpose, punctuated by soaring twin-guitar work from Stanley and Kulick.


1. "Unholy"
From: Revenge (1992)

A good alternate title for Kiss' Revenge album might have been Return of the Demon. By his own admission, Gene Simmons spent part of the prior decade on autopilot, juggling his duties in the band with his pursuit of acting and record producer careers. Part of the problem was that he didn't know how to present himself without the facepaint the band took off in 1983. "I didn't know how I was supposed to act, because the non-makeup version of the band was an entirely new idea. Paul [Stanley] was in his prime," Simmons explained in his book Kiss and Make-Up. "He was very comfortable being who he was – because, in some ways, Paul is the same offstage as onstage."

As a result of these two factors, prior to 1992 Kiss hadn't released a Simmons-fronted single in a full decade. But on the pummeling "Unholy" the bassist successfully unlocked his alter-ego, dominating the proceedings with a sinister yowl that seems to come from the bowels of hell.

Kiss Solo Albums Ranked Worst to Best

Counting down solo albums released by various members of Kiss.

Gallery Credit: Matthew Wilkening