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Kittie - "In The Black" (CD)

Kittie - "In The Black" CD cover image

"In The Black" track listing:

1. Kingdome Come
2. My Plague
3. Cut Throat
4. Die My Darling
5. Sorrow I Know
6. Forgive and Forget
7. Now or Never
8. Falling Down
9. Sleepwalking
10. Whiskey Love Song
11. Ready Aim Riot
12. The Truth

Reviewed by on August 18, 2009

"The band has seen quite a change in the hard rock and heavy metal landscape over the last decade or so, and they have grown with the times. "

Kittie was the first all-female metal band that was successful on a large scale. Due to their initial sound that featured a heavy, nu-metal groove, the ladies looked to prove that women really could rock. They were often pegged as whiny girls that would disappear once they had proved their point. That was not to be, as their fifth full-length album shows the band’s evolution and how they have matured, and how the music benefits from experience.

The first track, “Kingdome Come,” is an immediate departure from previous albums. A slow, atmospheric piece featuring Morgan Lander’s guitar noodling above an easy chord; the song sets a somber tone, and certainly a sense of the unknown and unexpected. The dream is shattered in short order, however, as the track sounds like it will transition seamlessly into the next song but instead there is a jarring jump-shift to the groove-packed “My Plague.” This kind of logistical shenanigans would never have appeared on previous Kittie albums, and it shows the band is thinking about more than just a set of individual songs.

Morgan Lander still has the black metal shriek she developed over the last couple Kittie albums, but she combines it wells with spurts of a high-pitched croon to really draw each section out. Sister Mercedes Lander is back wailing on the skins too, with a dexterous and even, if not spectacular, performance. Mercedes is not helped by the fact that the drums are mixed toward the back of the sparse production. Tara McLeod is back with her rhythm guitar, and newcomer Ivy Vujic handles the bottom end on her bass. All in all Morgan is the only standout member, as she plays lead guitar and covers lead vocals, and none of the other members are good enough to get out from under Morgan’s leading role.

The songs themselves are surprisingly varied. “Die My Darling” has elements of black metal mixed with late 1990’s grunge and alternative rock. “Sorrow I Know” has an intro that is almost a doom-meets-death mash up, and the rest of the song is a high-pitched drone. “Forgive and Forget” has Morgan and the band moving toward death metal during the verses, while “Sleepwalking” is another song that owes its musicality to 1990’s alternative rock. “The Truth” is an old-school tribute to Black Sabbath.

Every song on the album is based on Kittie’s nu-metal roots, but now that sound has developed into a much slower and deeper dirge, which allows for the band’s musical fancies to dance on top. The band has seen quite a change in the hard rock and heavy metal landscape over the last decade or so, and they have grown with the times. “In The Black” has an attractive style that serves Kittie well as they grapple with who they were and who they will become.

Highs: The musical elements that are combined make for a varied and unexpected experience.

Lows: Morgan Lander dominates the band, which doesn’t allow much variation from the guitar and vocals driven music.

Bottom line: Kittie delivers an unexpected, but well done, album.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls

Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)