NOT THE END OF THE ROAD
Released on January 21, 2022 (Napalm Records)
Review by Olivier:
Early on every year, one album becomes the benchmark for Sleaze Roxx‘s top album of the year. If a band or artist is able to compete with this album, odds are that the band will likely find its release somewhere on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of the Year. Last year, both Kickin Valentina‘s The Revenge of Rock and The Treatment‘s Waiting For Good Luck set the standard early on and only one album — Eclipse‘s Wired — ended up inching above them for the top spot on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten albums of 2021. In 2019, Stripwired‘s Another Shot was the standard bearer and it withstood all of the competition until Eclipse (again) took the top spot. In 2018, The Lazys‘ Tropical Hazards was simply too good compared to any of the other releases that often paled in comparison when standing side by side with the Aussie standard bearer for that year.
This takes me to Kissin’ Dynamite‘s new studio album Not The End of The Road, which is undoubtedly the benchmark for any album in 2022 for the top spot on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2022. Even before listening to the entire record, I knew that Not The End of The Road would likely end up as one of the year’s best albums on the strength of the first five singles. Each of the first five singles had a bombastic chorus that had me singing along to in no time. What I didn’t expect is that every track on Not The End of The Road has a great chorus that would have me singing along to. It’s almost like Kissin’ Dynamite have come up with 12 really great singles on one album. Even the ballads all provide sing along material. The German rockers came up with the term “stadium rock” a number of years ago and that’s exactly what they deliver with one killer tune after another and, all of them would likely be fantastic to hear in a live setting.
It is hard to come up with my favorite tacks off Not The End of The Road because every song on the album is really good but “Yoko Ono” really stands out. In fact, Kissin’ Dynamite frontman Hannes Braun indicated during the band’s live stream album release concert that he thought the track would be a “live smasher” and I wholeheartedly believe that he is right on point in that regard. Other highlights include the upbeat title track (written as a response to the departure of founding member and drummer Andi Schnitzer), “Only The Dead” with its infectious chorus, “Good Life” with the three guest vocalists (Saltatio Mortis, Thundermother‘s Guernica Mancini and Charlotte Wessels), “No One Dies A Virgin” with the killer guitar solo, and the easy to sing along to “Defeat It” and “Voodoo Spell.” I would be remiss to not mention the gorgeous ballad “Scars” that closes off the album. Wow! Kissin’ Dynamite hit a homer with their ballad “Heart of Stone” off their previous studio album Ecstasy and they have done it again with “Scars.”
What is truly impressive is that Hannes Braun wrote all of the music for the songs on Not The End of The Road except for three tracks where he shares co-writing credits. Throw in that Hannes Braun also produced and mixed the album and you can easily who is the heart and soul of the band at this point. Interestingly, former Kissin’ Dynamite drummer Andreas Schnitzer had a hand in writing the lyrics for seven of the 12 tracks so either some of these lyrics were written before he left the band or he continued to contribute lyrically even after he left the group. I was intrigued to see how Kissin’ Dynamite would fare without him given that I understood that he was the chief lyricist in the band, kind of like drummer Dave Sundgren is in Sister Sin. While it might seem odd to have a drummer be the main lyricist in a band, it’s not that odd for bands emanating from Europe where English is likely not the band members’ first language so the group’s lyricist might end up being the one with the best grasp of the English language.
Overall, Kissin’ Dynamite have likely come up with the album of the year. I think it could have been a little better if it was slightly heavier like some of their previous albums but it feels pretty damn close to perfection. There is no need to say that every album in 2022 will be compared with this benchmark record. It is super early in the year to call this but I would not be surprised at all if Not The End of The Road finishes at #1 on the Sleaze Roxx’s Top Ten Albums of 2022. Yeah, it’s that good. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I highly recommend this absolutely fantastic album. What a crime it would be for Kissin’ Dynamite‘s Not The End of The Road not to be in your record collection.
Review by wrestlingepicenter.com:
One of the best things about following Sleaze Roxx for the better part of 20 years has been the fact that this site has introduced me to new rock ‘n’ roll bands from all over the globe. While the car might be locked on stations like Hair Nation, Ozzy’s Boneyard, and any other classic rock channels on the Sirius XM dial, those songs often grow tiresome unless you sprinkle in some stuff that those stations probably should be playing but don’t. With that in mind, I bring you Kissin’ Dynamite.
“Kissin’ Dynamite” is a B side of an early ’80s AC/DC single. While I can’t confirm that is where they got the name from, their obvious influence from ’80s arena rock would suggest that it would be a fair assumption. German, not Swedish for a change — this young-ish band has guitar hooks that catch you and a vocalist with a unique voice and a fantastic way of phrasing things to make you sing along almost immediately.
This is my second Kissin’ Dynamite record. I bought Exstassy (which I can’t spell to save my life) in 2018 on the back of the single “I’ve got The Fire.” The song has such power. And, the album did too. It was easily one of my favorite releases of that year. So, Not the End of The Road was something I was certainly looking forward to. After all, one of the first singles was “Yoko Ono” which was a fantastic track. So, the album would follow suit, right? Etiquette would dictate that, correct? Well, not so much…
The album has strong suits. For example, the title track which kicks off the album is an uplifting song about overcoming. It probably doesn’t take too much reading into it that it implies the tough spot the entire world has been in for the past two years dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. I welcome the positivity. But, I must admit, I wasn’t blown away. “What Goes Up” follows the same formula with a little more balls than the title track. “Only The Dead” follows that up and is probably my favorite song on the album with my least favorite lyric ever written by any musician ever. I see no reason to praise Kurt Cobain when your music is uplifting, catchy, and more or less updated arena rock from the ’80s. I will confess that this is my second go around writing this review because that lyric made me so mad that my first review became an essay on the many reasons I detest that lyric. But, I digress. The song “Only The Dead” is haunting and I find myself singing it.
Some of the softer songs fail to land with me. I also think you could compare having to tolerate the female guest vocalists to having to tolerate Steven Tyler playing the harmonica on stage. We’ll listen to it but anyone who tells you they enjoy it is lying to you. But, the softer songs aren’t awful… It isn’t that they’re bad. But, I just wasn’t looking for that. I’d describe what they sound like as late ’90s pop rock that no one remembers. At least, I don’t. It isn’t that it is bad… It just isn’t what I’m after.
“Yoko Ono” is one of my favorites on the album as well. With the departure of the band’s drummer, one of their original members, one could assume that the song could have to do with him in some way. Or, it is a song about banging an Asian chick which is all good in my book as well. Or, a third possibility, is it actually is about “Yoko Ono”, the questionably talented singer who is most responsible for splitting up the “Fab Four” — The Beatles themselves. I tend to think it probably has a little of all three involved. And, it is a sexy jam with huge hooks. I really, really like this song.
My issue with lyrics continue with “All For A Hallelujah” which sees the band seemingly imply the God of rock and roll is in fact Satan and that the cross they wear is just for decoration and not faith. The song, the guitar, the groove, is great. The lyrics? Not for me. I can’t get behind it. The same goes for “No One Dies A Virgin” (Because God fucks us all in the end). Not sure what anger there is towards religion from the Kissin’ Dynamite camp. But, I don’t share their view. The lyrics are a tad too on the nose for me and not dancing around the religious matter the way other bands have in the past. So, I’m giving that a swing and a miss.
Overall, the whole album has positives. Ear worm like songs that stick in your head… Easy songs to sing along with. It really is pop hard rock — arena rock of the 1980s with enough of something to make it clear it is a new band. The lyrics that don’t bother me are all uplifting, full of fight, and excite you for your daily challenges, which is the exact opposite of everything the person praised in “Only The Dead” stood for which, in a nutshell, is why I hate him with a purple passion. In all seriousness, hearing that lyric must be what it feels like to be having sex with a girl you’re digging and having her scream her ex-boyfriend’s name. It just feels so wrong and makes me question the integrity of Kissin’ Dynamite all together.
I will not say the album isn’t good. Instead, because of the issues I’ve already laid out, it wasn’t what I was hoping for… Not entirely, anyway. I’m still a fan. I’ll still buy the next album. But, I’ll hope they keep the praise of people I hate and their borderline venom towards Christianity to a minimum. Otherwise, I might be burying my head back into the Sirius XM monotony even further going forward.
01. Not The End of The Road
02. What Goes Up
03. Only The Dead
04. Good Life
05. Yoko Ono
06. Coming Home
07. All for A Halleluja
08. No One Dies A Virgin
09. Gone For Good
10. Defeat It
11. Voodoo Spell
Hannes Braun – vocals
Ande Braun – guitar
Steffen Haile – bass
Jim Müller – guitar
Sean Lang – drums
Saltatio Mortis – guest vocals (4)
Guernica Mancini – guest vocals (4)
Charlotte Wessels – guest vocals (4)
Billy King – backing vocals
Anna Brunner – backing vocals (4, 5, 10)
Heike Schuch – cello (12)
Produced and mixed by Hannes Braun
Mastered by Jacob Hansen
Kissin’ Dynamite‘s “Not The End of The Road” video:
Kissin’ Dynamite‘s “What Goes Up” video:
Kissin’ Dynamite‘s “Good Life” video featuring Saltatio Mortis, Guernica Mancini and Charlotte Wessels:
Kissin’ Dynamite‘s “Yoko Ono” video:
Kissin’ Dynamite‘s “Coming Home” video: