As large as life and twice as loud, Kiss have become an American rock and roll institution over forty-odd years in the spotlight.

But before they were ubiquitous, Kiss members Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss, were just were just another struggling band from New York City, armed with big musical dreams and a weird gimmick (something to do with kabuki-style make-up and strange costumes).

Few guessed that gimmick would quickly grow into perhaps the most recognizable and profitable merchandising operations in rock history, almost dwarfing the period-defining hard rock (and incredible concerts to match) Kiss churned out throughout the ‘70s, before nearly blowing it all on unnecessary pop music aspirations and recurring musician turnover (first came Eric Carr, then Vinnie Vincent, etc., etc.).

It took the desperate measure of unmasking, abandoning all they’d once depended on, for Kiss to resurrect and – forgive the pun – put a fresh face on their career during the hair metal-and-MTV-ruled 1980s -- only for further changes in the musical climate of the early 1990s to lead the band down the dark alley of grunge.

Then the impossible happened: Kiss’ original foursome of Stanley, Simmons, Frehley and Criss reunited for a string of blockbuster tours, a never dreamed of comeback LP, and then once again the departure of Ace and Peter so that Gene and Paul could carry on with Kiss’ global brand-building with the help of Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer.

Over that improbably lengthy and twisted career path, Kiss managed to record an astonishing twenty studio albums, which, along with the original foursome’s rashly released solo albums, constitute the formidable discography we intend to pick through today.

So, scroll through the gallery above to see how we ranked Kiss’ albums from weakest to strongest.