It was certified platinum on November 11, 1976, the first Kiss album to achieve that distinction.
Coming on the heels of the group's breakthrough album Alive!, Destroyer is easily the most ambitious studio recording of Kiss's '70s catalogue. Bob Ezrin, who had previously worked with Alice Cooper, was brought in to produce the album. Among the production flourishes Ezrin introduced to Kiss were sound effects, strings, screaming children (on "God Of Thunder") backwards drums (Also on "God of Thunder") as well as a children's choir.
Destroyer is the first Kiss album to prominently feature outside musicians, such as members of the New York Philharmonic-Symphony Orchestra. However, one musician was not credited: Dick Wagner, from Alice Cooper's band, replaced Ace Frehley on tracks such as "Sweet Pain" (as Frehley didn't want to interrupt a card game he was playing during recording sessions for the song) and even on a song that Frehley himself co-wrote "Flaming Youth". Wagner also played the acoustic guitar found on the song "Beth".The success of Alive! and Destroyer enabled the band to embark on their first tour of Europe.
After attaining modest commercial success with their first three studio albums, Kiss achieved a commercial breakthrough with the 1975 concert album Alive! It was the first album by the band to be certified gold, and eventually went multi-platinum. The success of Alive!, which spent 110 weeks on the charts, benefited not only the struggling band but their cash-strapped label, Casablanca Records. Kiss signed a new contract with Casablanca in late 1975, partly because the label had been very supportive from the start of the band's career. The contract was only for two albums, however, an indication that Casablanca was unsure if the group could duplicate the accomplishments of Alive!
Destroyer sold well upon its release on March 15, 1976 and was certified gold on April 22. Although exact sales figures are not known, Paul Stanley stated that the album initially sold 850,000 copies in the U.S., well in excess of any of Kiss's first three studio albums.
After peaking at #11 on the Billboard album chart on May 15, however, Destroyer quickly fell and by August was at #192.
The first three singles — "Shout It Out Loud," "Flaming Youth," and "Detroit Rock City" — failed to ignite sales any further, leading the band and its management to view the album as a failure relative to Alive! The band and Ezrin cited fan backlash as the reason Destroyer did not meet sales expectations. Ezrin also stated that the "grassroots rock press" was particularly critical of the album. Rolling Stone referred to "bloated ballads," "pedestrian drumming," and "lackluster performances" in its review.
It was not until radio stations started playing the B-side of the "Detroit Rock City" single, "Beth," that the album started to sell as expected. The ballad, which according to Simmons was deliberately put on the B-side to force stations to play "Detroit Rock City," started receiving numerous listener requests and became an unexpected hit. "Beth" was re-released as the fourth single in late August, and it peaked at #7 on the Billboard singles chart on September 25. It was the group's first Top 10 song and re-ignited sales of the album. On November 11 Destroyer became the first Kiss album to be certified platinum.
"Detroit Rock City" – 5:17
"King of the Night Time World"– 3:19
"God of Thunder" – 4:13
"Great Expectations" – 4:21
"Flaming Youth" – 2:59
"Sweet Pain" – 3:20
"Shout It Out Loud" – 2:49
"Beth" – 2:45
"Do You Love Me" – 3:33
untitled track (Simmons, Stanley, Ezrin) – 1:25
The last song is an untitled hidden track usually referred to as "Rock and Roll Party." It is a loop made up of the choral melody from "Great Expectations" and a concert clip of Paul Stanley telling an audience, "I tell you all, it looks like, it looks like we're gonna have ourselves...a rock and roll party!" This quote is taken from "Alive!" and can be found between "Deuce" and "Strutter". On CD reissues, this track is often combined with "Do You Love Me" and not listed separately.
Gene Simmons – bass guitar, lead vocals, backing vocals
Paul Stanley – rhythm guitar, lead vocals, backing vocals
Ace Frehley – lead guitar
Peter Criss – drums, lead vocals on "Beth," backing vocals
Dick Wagner – guitar solos on "Flaming Youth" and "Sweet Pain"; acoustic guitar on "Beth"
Boys Choir of Harlem – vocals on "Great Expectations"
David and Josh Ezrin – voices on "God of Thunder"