Death Metal, KISS and Dr. Love

This morning, I had an epiphany. I was driving my daughter Gaby to Nurse Betty’s house, and … wait. Nurse Betty is the woman who watches my daughter in the summer while I work. Gaby calls her Miss Betty; but, back when Betty first started watching Gaby, I thought Gaby was calling her Nurse Betty, and, well, it stuck. OK, so I was driving Gaby to Nurse Betty’s house, and, I was listening to the new album War Eternal (2014) by Swedish melodic death metal band Arch Enemy. War Eternal is the first Arch Enemy album with new vocalist Alissa White-Gluz, formerly of Canadian extreme metal band The Agonist. White-Gluz replaced German vocalist Angela Gossow, who departed in 2014 after being with Arch Enemy since 2000. Gossow remains the band’s business manager.

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Alissa White-Gluz / Angela Gossow

I’m not a big fan of melodic death metal, but I do love female vocalists who death growl and find success in a genre dominated by men. Both Alissa White-Gluz and Angela Gossow look like angels but growl like demons wanting to suck out your soul. In The Agonist, White-Gluz used both clean vocals and and death growls, but, in Arch Enemy, she just growls. White-Gluz, by the way, is dating ripped 49-year-old guitarist Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein (ex-The Misfits). She’s 28. He’s forty-f*cking ripped! So am I.

I love War Eternal, but, again, I’m not a big fan of the genre, so, what do I know, right? I know what I like. My favorite track is “You Will Know My Name” which begins, deceivingly, like a Creed-esque power ballad, but, soon kicks out death metal so melodic that, if White-Gluz used clean vocals, it would rock the mainstream rock charts. “There’s something inside me and I know it’s good / I’m not evil – just misunderstood,” she growls in the pre-chorus. It’s a great line, and, a cool track! Watch the video here [Alissa White-Gluz looks amazing!] …

Other favorite tracks include “Avalanche”, “War Eternal” and “Down To Nothing”. The version I have closes out with a death metal cover of the Judas Priest classic “Breaking the Law”. War Eternal is an excellent album, but, what was I talking about in the first place? Oh, right – my epiphany …

OK, so I was driving Gaby to Nurse Betty’s house, and, I was listening to Arch Enemy‘s new album War Eternal when Gaby ejected the CD and inserted her own: One Direction‘s Midnight Memories. Then, she turned it up louder than I had Arch Enemy! Ughh! After two stop signs, I couldn’t take it anymore. “Turn it down,” I demanded, and, I instantly thought about when I was Gaby’s age and my parents yelled at me to turn my music down. I get it now. It wasn’t about how loud my music was – it was about how much my parents thought the music I listened to sucked! What was I listening to when I was Gaby’s age? I was listening, obsessively, to classic ’70s KISS!

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I was a pre-teen in the mid-1970s. I discovered KISS shortly after the release of Destroyer in March 1976, and, I subsequently anticipated the releases of Rock And Roll Over (November 1976), Love Gun (June 1977), and Alive II (October 1977). My KISS addiction faded after Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss released solo albums, and, the band’s been dead to me ever since; but, KISS was, for a few years, the very first rock band that I truly obsessed over.

My favorite KISS song was, and still is, Gene Simmons“Calling Dr. Love”. I loved the riff, the cowbell, and the hook, for sure, but those lyrics that, like most KISS songs, objectified women were laughable then, and now. However, as a pre-teen who was just discovering that girls are wonderfully different than boys, those lyrics were awesome! My second favorite Gene Simmons song was “Christine Sixteen” despite delivering the creepiest KISS lyrics ever …

“I don’t usually say things like this to girls your age, but when I saw you coming out of the school that day, that day I knew, I knew, I’ve got to have you, I’ve got to have you.”

Gene Simmons used to be a school teacher! My favorite Paul Stanley song was “Take Me”, while “Mr. Speed” was a close second. I think Simmons and Stanley were in competition with each other to see how many songs they could include a lyric that refers to a girl getting on her knees. Anyway …

My brother Mike, my cousin Phil, and I used to perform air guitar KISS concerts in our bedroom which occupied the entire top floor of our house. Our set included both Alive! (September 1975) and Alive II. I was always Gene Simmons [cuz I loved demons!], my cousin was Paul Stanley, and my brother was Ace Frehley. We didn’t wear make-up or anything, but, occasionally, I would swish some cherry Jell-O mix in my mouth and let it flow down my chin like Gene Simmons spitting blood. My parents would scream at us endlessly to turn it down. I didn’t think they actually thought KISS sucked. Now I know.

Here’s a few more of my proudest ’70s KISS obsession moments …

1. I owned a HUGE belt buckle adorned with the Love Gun album artwork. It almost looked like I was wearing a dinner plate to hold my bell bottoms up. I also owned every music magazine KISS had ever appeared in, their first comic book [supposedly written in their blood!], and, all the trading cards. All of that stuff is long gone.

2. In 6th grade art class, we were given a huge manilla folder to store our artwork in. We were also given creative license to decorate that folder however we saw fit. I drew and colored the album artwork for Rock And Roll Over on mine. It was nearly perfect! I was actually offered a scholarship for an art school that year [not for the folder], but, I didn’t take it. I didn’t want to be away from my friends. What a silly fool I was – I can barely even remember any of their names today! Speaking of silly fools …

3. In 7th grade science class, I was awarded Science Student of the Year or something like that. I won a trip to the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto. However, the trip was scheduled for Saturday, October 28, which was also when the movie KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park was being aired on NBC. Canada didn’t get NBC, and, in 1978, we didn’t have VCR’s or DVR’s, so I chose not to take the trip to stay home and watch the movie.

I discovered Led Zeppelin soon after, and my KISS addiction was kicked, but, I still loved “Calling Dr. Love”…

A few years ago, I took Gaby to a new doctor. She was an adorably cute, young Asian girl, probably right out of medical school. I was instantly smitten by her adorable cuteness. Her name was Dr. Love. She introduced herself to Gaby and I, then, sat at the table to look over Gaby’s charts on the computer. I thought I was being clever when I said, “So, they call you Dr. Love.” She glanced at me, and said, with nary a smile, “Yes. That’s my name. I told you,” and, then she proceeded to examine Gaby. It’s a good thing I didn’t counter that shut down with, “Baby, I know what your problem is, and the first step of the cure is … a kiss!” Or, even worse, if I had said, when she first walked in, “Enter please. Get on your knees.” Who takes love advice from Gene Simmons anyway?!

Watch KISS perform “Calling Dr. Love” live in 1977 here …

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One thought on “Death Metal, KISS and Dr. Love

  1. Pingback: Frantic Amber “Burning Insight” | My Heart Explodes

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