Ace Frehley- 10​,​000 Volts (Album Review)

Feb. 28, 2024


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Out of all the Kiss members who released solo material, Ace Frehley has remained the most productive when it comes to putting out new albums.  Granted, some of this may due to the fact that his original stint with Kiss ended in 1983 and the second time around ended in 2002, giving him plenty of time to focus on his solo endeavors.  When going through his discography, Frehley’s self-titled effort in 1978 and his two 80s releases tend to get the most attention, but he’s been fairly busy since returning with Anomaly in 2009 after a twenty-year gap.  Admittedly the two cover albums he did in 2016 and 2020 felt like they were best left for the die-hard fans, but this year Ace Frehley has returned with another album of original material titled 10,000 Volts.  Continuing from Space Invader and Spaceman, 10,000 Volts sticks within Frehley’s established wheelhouse but does make some meaningful tweaks.  There are a few missteps along the way, but this is a solid showing from a musician who’s clearly still having fun at this stage in his career.

10,000 Volts starts off strong, as the trio of the title track, “Walkin’ on the Moon”, and “Cosmic Heart” all have some great riffs that stand out upon repeat listens.  The title track has that perfect balance of high energy and slightly heavier riffing that gives way to infectious melodies on the chorus, while the other two songs adopt a bluesier swagger alongside the glam sound you’d expect from Ace Frehley.  Things drag a little bit after that, as “Cherry Medicine” and “Back Into My Arms Again” go for more sickly sweet pop rock that isn’t bad but doesn’t really stand out from the rest of the album.  The same can be said for “Constantly Cute”, and it started to feel like whenever Frehley and company would mellow out that the material would lose some of its hooks and come off as just a bit too generic.  Thankfully the bulk of 10,000 Volts lives up to its name and spends most of its time emphasizing high energy guitar work and some well-placed solos that incorporate different elements from across the rock spectrum.  “Blinded” and “Up in the Sky” are clear second half highlights, and as a whole the number of tracks that hook you outweigh the ones that just come and go.  On the production side the drums pop out and give a bit of weight to the low end, and while I would’ve preferred just a little more bite to some of the other instruments this still sounds better to my ears than 2018’s Spaceman.     

Like the Dokken album from last year, you shouldn’t be coming into Ace Frehley’s latest material expecting the same vocal prowess he had thirty or forty years ago.  There are definitely some areas where it feels like the singing has been cleaned up in the studio, but I can appreciate that Frehley is doing the best with what he’s working with these days.  “Walkin’ on the Moon”, “Fightin’ For Life”, “Blinded”, and “Up in the Sky” fare the best on the vocal front, as they balance melodic choruses with some slightly gruffer verses.  Again, there’s nothing outright bad to the performance but like the instrumentation some of the singing comes and goes without leaving a lasting impression.  The same can’t be said on the lyrical front though, which ranges from good to too cheesy, but that’s likely to come down to a matter of tastes.

At this point in his career Ace Frehley certainly has nothing to prove, so I can appreciate that he’s still writing and the material reflects that he’s enjoying doing it.  For me the best moments came when the songs took on a slightly heavier edge, either on the glam or blues side, and the ones that went for more straightforward melodic hooks just didn’t sink in.  But even with its ups and downs, the peaks make this one worth a listen, especially if you’ve enjoyed what Frehley has done throughout his discography.  10,000 Volts is available from MNRK Heavy.

-Review by Chris Dahlberg