Music Collection Report: KITTIE Fire

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Whenever I think about alternative metal, my mind immediately drifts to the timeless tracks of Limp Bizkit‘s “Break Stuff”, Korn‘s “Freak On A Leash”, Linkin Park‘s “One Step Closer”, and Slipknot‘s “The Heretic Anthem” – all of which resonated with my adolescent dark emotions better than my confidential diary ever did. However, strangely enough, the infectiously catchy nu-metal hit by Kittie titled “Brackish” never made its way into my playlist. As I ponder on this and delve deeper into why their music wasn’t blasting from the coolest kids’ stereos at parties, I start to question…what kept them from the mainstream limelight? What qualities did those other bands possess that Kittie didn’t? Oh. Egos.

We are currently witnessing a resurgence of 2000s fashion trends, which we millennials painstakingly tried to bury, and there’s plenty to reflect upon regarding the decade that succeeded the turn of the century. While changes in our daily lives were rapidly unfolding, as prophesied by Smash Mouth‘s “All Star” (apologies), certain ideologies remained unchanged. For women in the music industry, or any facet of entertainment for that matter, their appearance and gender often took precedence in critical discussions. Even in 2024, this narrative still persists.

One stark contrast lies in the fact that, back in 2000, it wasn’t considered fashionable to embrace femininity. As a self-proclaimed ultimate tomboy, I aspired to be more of a “guy’s girl” rather than a “girls’ girl.” The term “feminist” felt like an insult to young women who hadn’t yet grasped the power of embracing their femininity. Hence, Kittie chose not to align with this label, and I can understand their decision. In an era prior to the dominance of social media and its influence on empowering young women to define themselves however they pleased, asserting oneself as a “feminist” may have alienated them from their desire to be treated equally amongst their peers. By not embracing the feminist label, they refused to succumb to the media’s portrayal of a “woman plays guitar?” mentality regarding a female-led metal band, leaving them in an ambiguous position that left us pondering what could have been.

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Now, 24 years later, with the revival of wide-legged JNCO jeans, center hair parts, and ball chains hitting the streets once again, Kittie‘s hard-hitting metal finally gets a chance in a world where the term “woman” might follow descriptions of their musical prowess. Their latest album, Fire, released under Sumerian Records, marks their first full-length album in 13 years, and the production by Nick Raskulinecz (Foo Fighters, Rush, Alice In Chains, Korn, etc.) does justice to the talented quartet, allowing them to embrace a refined sound that showcases the quintessential metal essence of Kittie. A notable departure from their initial nu-metal sound on the debut album Spit, they delved further into heavy metal territory with their sophomore release, Oracle.

The title track of Fire, accompanied by a vibrant red-hued music video, sets the tone for a robust album featuring subtle growls that transition to powerful screams, a facet of Kittie that always felt like the backbone rather than the forefront. These tracks are finely crafted, exuding a commanding presence that is gratifying to hear from them.

Lead vocalist and guitarist Morgan Lander remarks, “We’ve dedicated an immense amount of effort over the past year, and assembled the ultimate dream team to bring this album to life,” underscoring the evident evolution that the band has undergone. Tracks like “Falter” and “Wound” embed distinct guitar arrangements in your mind, while “Grime” delivers some ferocious screams that truly leave a lasting impact. The band’s growth shines through in Fire, and I sincerely hope that Kittie finally garners the unwavering support and recognition they have always merited.

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