Top 5 worst KISS album covers

That 70s Guy

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Jan 21, 2010
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Nova Scotia Canada


Hot in the Shade' (1989)

As you'll see, a quick way to get yourself onto our list of worst Kiss album covers is by making the focal point of your art something besides the band's famous faces. It's not that we don't think you could make a good cover without having Paul Stanley or Gene Simmons' mugs plastered all over it, it's just that nobody has really done it yet. Take the sunglasses-wearing sphinx featured on the cover of 'Hot in the Shade,' which would look more at home hanging on the wall of some wacky fun-time themed family restaurant.



Music From the Elder' (1981)

Well, technically Kiss is on the cover of this album — that's Paul Stanley's hand about to use the world's most ornate door-knocker. The band wanted a suitably epic visual calling card for their flop of a 1981 concept album about a young warrior's mythical quest for manhood. What they ended up with was a largely brown mass that caused music store owners some trouble. See, most record bins were brown or black, making this record hard to notice even for those dedicated few fans who would have been interested in buying it.



Unmasked' (1980)

As their late-'70s popularity waned, Kiss did little to counter the arguments of critics who accused their music of being cartoonish with this, well, cartoon strip of a cover. The title indicates it's finally going to be time for the band to take off their omnipresent makeup and reveal their true faces. But, when the strip's nagging reporter finally does manage to get them to do so, they reveal — gasp? — more makeup under the makeup. It was a ruse! (Editor's confession: this record is pretty damn catchy. Check out 'Torpedo Girl.')



'Carnival of Souls' (1997)

When Kiss reunited with their original lineup in 1996, it was natural that the album they had just completed with the non-makeup version of the group would fall by the wayside. Similarly, when bootleg copies and fan demand caused they band to belatedly issue the record, it's understandable that they didn't break the bank working on the cover art. But…c'mon. Bruce Kulick could have at least shaven for the photo session.



'Psycho Circus' (1998)

After nearly two decades, in 1996 the original members of Kiss got together, in full makeup, for an ultra-successful reunion tour, then headed into the studio to make a brand new original record. They announce a circus-themed title for the project, which sounds very promising. But as the (admittedly very clever) lenticular cover reveals a stage curtain being drawn back, we get the big, glorious front and center painted face of…. a clown? That's right, the four famous faces we all wanted to see on an album cover again are reduced to framed quarter-sized images in favor of Captain Howdy's big brother.



Fade To Black
Apr 20, 2009
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Those are some pretty lame covers.

I'm not sure which of the 5 is the worst...they all have no redeeming qualities.

It's too bad they don't hire one of the fabulously talented European cover art specialists to do their next one, just look at all the great artwork they have been doing over the years, even Gene would have to admit it would help move the product off the shelves.


In Urgent Need of Advice
Jan 30, 2010
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All 5 of those album covers stink like ass. I honestly don't know which of them I would call the worst.

On one hand, Carnival of Souls uses some random stock promotional photo of the Kulick/Singer lineup that I'll bet you $50 was laying around on someone's desk in a folder for months before anyone decided to finally release the album. As bland as that photo is, I can assure you it wasn't shot specifically for the album cover. You can take that to the bank. If anything, it was shot for a magazine feature or press kit and might or might not have been used.

For the late 90's, Psycho Circus cover looked like shit coming out in the middle of the rap/rock phase, Ozzfest phase, etc. However, being a reunion album, I am willing to let it slide.

The album cover for The Elder could have been conceived by just about any 70's band having an identity crisis as they pressed on into the 80's. Gonna let it slide.

Then we have the last two selections, Unmasked and Hot in the Shade. Both of these were conceived during a period when the band was doing reasonably well and taking themselves quite seriously, so my hunch is that more thought went into these two albums covers than some of the other ones.


Senior Member
Jul 13, 2011
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I don't get the hate for the Unmasked cover. When I was a kid I remember liking the cover a lot.


Senior Member
Nov 28, 2009
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Never liked the Hot in The Shade or Carnival Of Souls covers, and Hot In The Shade is the one I play less as well.

The others don't bug me and I never understood what was so wrong about Unmasked. I'll always defend it. Cool cover and as the editor confession suggests, it's pretty damn catchy.



Veteran Of A Thousand Psychic Wars
Jul 3, 2014
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Mother Gaia
I would take out The Elder cover and I would put the Asylum one on the list...:pullhair:


None of the five featured album covers look anything NEAR as retarded as the putrid looking thing above.

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