Review – Ace Frehley: Anomaly

Late last week I was able to pick up the latest offering from Ace Frehley, Anomaly. Twenty years in the making, I was eager to hear what Ace had up his sleeve. Purchasing was quite a endeavor as I had to try 3 retail locations before finally finding a copy at Borders. (I don’t know if that is good news for Ace with copies flying off the shelves or if it’s an EPIC FAIL as his Bronx Born record label and distro company just dropped the ball. I think it’s the latter because a Best Buy associate helped me search the Chicago area stores online to find that only about 10 copies existed.) I have had a chance to listen front to back three times now and will give my song by song reactions:

Foxy & Free:
What a way NOT to start an album, much less one anticipated for as long as this one. An impressive opening riff quickly turns into a patchwork of sounds and ideas that don’t feel fully realized. This could have easily been an 80’s castoff, not quite good enough for his above average TROUBLE WALKING album.

Outerspace:
The first single. Not a way to announce your return to the world. This song is a Rob Zombie reject. With much hype about using Drop D tuning (whatever the hell that is), this song  just doesn’t seem to fit with the album or with Ace. I’m not saying it’s terrible, but with lyrics straight out of an above average High School band and a style that is not his own I have to wonder how this made it onto the album or as the lead single.

Pain In The Neck:
Finally, something interesting. An ode to the girl that drives you wild in the bedroom but drives you crazy everywhere else. The lyrics are goofy, but I think that’s the point. Lyrically it is light hearted, but sonically it breaks out some great riffs and a chorus that will stick in your head. Any yodeling, you ask? But of course! Yodeling is a longstanding tradition for Ace’s music believe it or not, and with this track it helps to underscore that the song is to be enjoyed for it’s goofiness.

Fox On The Run:
Ace has included a cover song on every album since leaving KISS. Ace covering Sweet is like a hand in a glove. It just fits and the song sounds great. It really rocks…but so did the original from which this hardly strays.

Genghis Khan:
A psuedo instrumental that includes a vocal chorus. At six minutes plus, this is one of the longer tracks on the album. For an instrumental that is kinda long, but when you’re listening it just doesn’t feel that way. Great riffs, great solos, great chorus. I really like this track.

Too Many Faces:
Ace has taken a page out of the Gene Simmons playbook and has been hyping this album as akin to his smash 1977 KISS solo album. I couldn’t agree less with the exception of two tracks. Too Many Faces has that classic Ace Frehley in his heyday feeling. It really does have that vibe. Lyrically more mature than most of Ace’s compositions, it’s a very solid song.

Change The World:
I’m never more excited listening to Ace than when he breaks the “hard rock” mold and meanders over to pop. (Hardcore fans of Ace who have collected his unreleased bootlegs will know what I am talking about.) It’s not that I dislike his rock songs, but he seems to experiment more and try different things with his pop compositions. Change The World is a great pop song and, in my opinion, should have been the lead single.

Space Bear:
The second instrumental on the album. For KISS fans, this song is a nod to the instrumentals of KISSs’ youth. It doesn’t really break any ground or provide anything you weren’t expecting from Ace…but I’m guessing that was the point. (ie, to show the world who crafted the music for the early KISS albums…you know, the ones they still play in concert. Not the ones from the 80s and 90s that non-fans don’t care to hear.)

A Little Below The Angels:
The second foray into pop. Something of a ballad, this song is earnest to the point of being saccharine. It has a spoken word conversation between Ace and his young daughter (who’s like 25 now, right?) and it includes a childrens’ chorus on the outro. In spite of all the sugary sweetness, I love this song. This is Ace wearing his hear on his sleeve, speaking of his past addictions, failures and wishes to be a better person. If you love Ace…the flawed human being Ace…then you will love this.

Sister:
This is an OLD song. This comes from the early 90s and I have the bootlegs to prove it. It sounds like something from TROUBLE WALKING, but is actually better than many of the songs on that album. It’s got a great groove, high energy and rocks pretty hard in spots. I’m glad to have a quality recording of this song after so many years…but would have preferred something new.

It’s A Great Life:
A mid-tempo pop-rock song with a great sing-along chorus. Ace once again flexes his creativity and comes up with something that stands out amongst the other songs. I really enjoy this one.

Fractured Quantum:
The fourth installment of Aces’ instrumental Fractured series. I’m bored to death with these. He has stated that this will be the last of the Fractured series. Thank goodness because he should’ve stopped after the first, classtic Fractured Mirror.

I give this album a respectable 7 out of 10 stars. I hope it’s not another twenty years until the next one!

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21 Responses to “Review – Ace Frehley: Anomaly”

  1. Did I fail to mention that the CD cover is a diecut puzzle that folds into a pyramid? I love silly stuff like that.

  2. Oh yeah…Cluster Map update today too.

  3. I just got Sonic Boom…so I’ll probably wait a get Ace’s album later.

    (BTW, Ace Frehley will be playing at the “LoudPark” Heavy Metal Festival near Tokyo next month.
    Other bands scheduled to play this year are Slayer, Megadeth, Judas Priest, Rob Zombie, Anthrax, Dokken, et al.)

    http://tokyo5.wordpress.com/2009/09/19/i-got-sonic-boom/

  4. I know some of my review is kind of negative, but I would recommend Anomaly…especially for KISS fans.

  5. Drop D tuning: low E string is tuned one step lower to D so you can make a power chord by barring the 6th and 5th string. Also, it sounds more heavy and death metal.

    I’ve heard it done well, though.

    … written while holding infant in left arm…. ha!

    • Well, then that sounds like perfect for SIX DEMON BAG!

      • I’ve definitely played around with Drop D tuning. Hope to use it for at least one of our songs.

        And I can’t believe Dokken is still around. I saw them back in the mid 80s. The bands that really suck just seem never to die… kind of like LFA! Of course, we were actually resurrected.

  6. I can honestly say as an 80s Metal fan…I always HATED Dokken. They could obviously play, but their songs were TERRIBLE. I just never got it.

    • Really?
      “Into The Fire”, “Just Got Lucky”, “It’s Not Love”, “Back For The Attack”, “Breakin’ The Chains”, etc…I liked Dokken alot!

      • I was, in fact, a fan of Dokken in the 80s, when I was a teenager. I saw them in concert, I believe opening for Judas Priest, but that could be misremembered. Certainly Breakin’ the Chains was a fav. But they represented the sort of intellectual emptiness of the worst of 80s heavy metal, like Whitesnake. They didn’t have the chutzpah of Motley Crue, even if they were better musicians, and they didn’t have mojo like Priest or Iron Maiden, either. They just were.

        But at least they were better than Ratt!

  7. Those are all great bands, to me!

    And Dokken opened for Judas Priest on Priest’s “Turbo” tour (it was in support of “Under Lock And Key” for Dokken)…I missed that show!

    I saw Judas Priest in concert (here in Japan)…but I’ve never seen a Dokken show.

    (I saw Ratt, too (on the “Reach For The Sky” tour!))

    Neither a Judas Priest nor Ratt concert is nearly as good as a KISS show! 😉

    • Judas Priest show NOT as good as a KISS show? What? CLEARLY you don’t fully comprehend the words you just typed on the page. I will give you that KISS was the “creator” of the over-the-top rock show. But come on, the 70’s rock that they continue to churn out is adolescent, even if there are smoke bombs, fire cannons and lasers going off all over the place. Priest can bring all of that PLUS give the audience a true, cut you to the core, METAL sound that will hit you in the gut and smack your brain about. I grew up on KISS (and they were the ONLY band I listened to up until the Dynasty album–I still give them a listen on occasion). But face it, their music hasn’t matured. It is the same riffs, same storylines, same makeup, etc. Nothing new.

      By the way, booting ACE was the stupidest thing Gene could have done. He was their ONLY “true” musician. ACE rules!!

      • I’ve never been to a Priest show myself, so I can’t comment on which one is better…but I’d find it pretty hard to believe that anyone can match the show that KISS puts on. Let’s face it, they have a lot more money to put up on the stage as far as production is concerned.

        Has KISS not “matured” musically? That’s arguable in a lot of different directions. KISS has tried on a few albums in the past to update their sound and the general public just didn’t buy it. When they stick to their formula, it sells well.

        I fully agree with your statement that KISS/Gene fumbled the ball with how they handled ACE. They could’ve done much more to keep him happy, keep him sober and keep him in the band. The band would’ve been much better creatively for it. Unfortunately it appears that Gene and Paul have control issues and giant egos. They are much happier to have “yes men” who do what they are told.

        My only rebuttal to you would be, has Priest significantly changed their sound since their 80s heyday? I don’t think so. Modern production, sure…but different? I don’t really think so. Don’t get me wrong, I like them. Their music is great.

        Now, if you want to talk about a band that has really matured, how about HANSON?!?!

  8. I like all of those bands…except Dokken. I think they could play, Dokken could sing, but they just didn’t have good songs.

  9. >Didn’t George Lynch have an ill-conceived follow-up band after Dokken kicked him out called LYNCH MOB?

    Yes. And Don Dokken wanted to call his solo band “Dokken” but the other three members wouldn’t release their rights to the name…so his solo band went by “Don Dokken”.

  10. good review although i’d have given it an 8
    do check my review of sonic boom

    http://heavymech-tal.blogspot.com/2009/10/kiss-sonic-boom.html

  11. I saw Priest in concert once back in the 80s. They were excellent! It wasn’t a KISS show, though. Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

    Heard they have a new album, but haven’t heard it yet.

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