It’s worth noting that I’m not reviewing the Gene Simmons Vault Experience, which, by all accounts, is excellent. According to the Gene Simmons Vault website, for the $2,000 price tag, the purchaser gets the following:
- Gene Meet & Greet: You and a guest will spend one-on-one time with Gene in your area
- “Songs & Stories” Playback Session and Q&A: You and a guest will attend an intimate Vault preview
- Gene photo/video/autograph session
- Gene hand delivers your limited-edition personalized Vault
- Vault Pre-Pack: Signed Golden Ticket, T-Shirt, Download Card (with “Are You Ready”), And laminate
The Vault includes 166 “never-released-before songs,” spread across 11 CDs, packaged in a large book, which includes liner notes from Gene about each song, as well as “never-seen-before images of Simmons over his 50-year carer.” Additionally, you get a Gene Simmons businessman action figure, an “In Gene We Trust” oversized coin, and a “one-of-a-kind, hand-selected original piece of memorabilia from Gene’s personal collection.”
Is The Gene Simmons Vault Experience Worth It?
If I had decided to purchase the Gene Simmons Vault Experience, I would have attended the one in Philadelphia, which took place on February 18. People at this event got to spend five minutes with Gene Simmons, one-on-one, which isn’t much time at all, and he presented them with their Vault. Many of them got the exact same “one-of-a-kind” items: cardboard 3D KISS glasses and an all access pass from a recent KISS tour. Also, unlike other Gene Simmons Vault Experiences, the one in Philly didn’t feature any special guests. While it would have been nice to have gone, it seems like I didn’t miss out on much by not being there.
As any KISS or Gene Simmons fan will tell you, what matters most is the music. It’s a shame that Gene, so far, has chosen to only make this music available to those that can afford to spend $2,000 or more, which is a lot of money. As I mentioned to Gene when I interviewed him, a fan can spend $399 to meet him at a solo show or $1,250 to meet KISS at one of its concerts. That’s $750 more than a KISS meet and greet and a whopping $1,601 more than a Gene Simmons solo meet and greet. So, if you want access to this music, which is really the only major difference between these meet and greets, Gene is forcing you to spend an exorbitant amount of money to do so. With this in mind, I decided that, for me, it’s not worth the price of admission.
Many KISS fans will tell you that Paul Stanley’s songwriting capabilities are vastly superior to Gene’s, and they’re correct. When Gene originally announced the idea of a box set of demos many years ago, fans groaned thinking it would be filled with a ton of poorly-written reject songs – not exactly the most enticing musical product to put on the market.
I believe that Gene was fully aware of fans’ perception that the music in his long-awaited box set wouldn’t be top-shelf quality. So, he decided to turn it into the Gene Simmons Vault Experience with a big emphasis on the experience part. This was a stroke of genius as it takes the focus off the music, and it it worked like a charm. Any press or social media coverage about the Gene Simmons Vault has been about everything but the quality of the music. Now it’s time to answer the most important question: Is the Gene Simmons Vault music great or is it, as Pod of Thunder jokingly worded it, a “box of garbage”?
I listened to every song on all 11 CDs numerous times, and I’ve graded them as either “great” or “garbage.” If a song is “great,” that means I’m willing to listen to is over and over again. If a song is “garbage,” I never want to listen to it again. I’m not going to tell you my grade for each individual song because then this article would never end. Instead, I’m going to provide the ratio of “great” to “garbage” songs for each CD and let that determine whether or not a particular CD is “great” or “garbage.” Then, I’ll add up the number of “great” songs and the number of “garbage” songs and compare the numbers to determine whether or not The Vault is, you guessed it, “great” or “garbage.”
CD 1 Grade: “GARBAGE”
CD 2 Grade:”GARBAGE”
CD 3 Grade:”GREAT”
CD 4 Grade:”GREAT”
CD 5 Grade:”GREAT”
CD 6 Grade:”GARBAGE”
CD 7 Grade:”GARBAGE”
CD 8 Grade:”GREAT”
CD 9 Grade:”GREAT”
CD 10 Grade:”GARBAGE”
CD 11 Grade:”GREAT”
Six of the 11 CDs contained within The Vault are “great” and five of them are “garbage.” In total, there are 89 “garbage” songs and only 77 that are “great.”
It’s also worth noting that the audio quality of the tracks on The Vault vary significantly. Some sound excellent, while others have the audio quality of a song being captured with a cassette recorder under a comforter on a bed across the room from where the music is being played. Keep this in mind if you plan on buying The Vault or you’ll be disappointed.
According to the “Music Review Grading System” I laid out at the beginning, the final grade for The Vault is “garbage.”
Gene Simmons has done a fabulous job of marketing The Vault, and people are buying it in droves. However, there are millions of KISS and Gene Simmons fans that can’t afford to buy The Vault at its current price point. And according to my analysis of the music, it’s worth nowhere near $2,000 dollars, especially since the “garbage” songs outweigh the “great” ones. One can only hope that, down the road, Gene releases a pared-down version of this box set at a reasonable price (i.e., no more than $200). If he does, he should separate the wheat from the chaff to make The Vault worth the price of admission.
I downloaded the vault the other day as no way im paying 2k , and a few things struck me skimming through the tracks – its alot of garbage and no wonder they didnt make the albums… and the sound quality is shocking on alot of tracks. If it was freddie mercury demos then yes as he has a great voice, gene simmons not so much …
It definitely isn’t worth $2k and the “experience” part has gotten worse over time, according to fans. And about 50% or less of the Vaults produced have sold so far, which is disappointing since Gene thought they’d all be sold by the end of 2018.
Music being subjective, means we need to know what your POV is on songwriting. When considering the original 4 members, I would rate their writing abilities as PS =5, GS = 3, AF = 3, and PC = 1. IOW, I’m firmly of the O that PS is the best writer amongst them. Where do you stand; what’s your rating for each of them?
Thanks for commenting. I agree with your rating system. Paul is the best, followed by Gene, Ace, and Peter.
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I’ve watched numerous Vault unboxing videos. I like the presentation, but I’ve always had this feeling that despite the trinkets, and meeting Gene, that they’ve been ripped off. I was able to listen to all 11CDs and I can tell you, the reviewer here was too generous grading this pile of garbage. It’s been 4 years since the launch of this product and I still see buyers remorse individual items such as the medallion or the Gene action figure on eBay, still unsold. Some vendors (probably Gene ) selling these vaults at twice the price to artificially pump it up. I’ve also seen videos of the $50K home visits. Definitely underwhelming and I even feel sorry for those rich people.