I’ve Failed You (eOne Metal)
I have followed the career of KITTE from the very beginning. When they hit the scene in the late 1990s they were written off by some as a curios novelty. I thought they were cool and certainly capable of bigger and better things even at that time. When they matured and made more complete sounding albums, they were accused of changing too much to fit in with the times. Sometimes you really can’t win or please anybody, can you?. Back in the day I would often make a correlation to them being young and also women in their tough climb upwards in the male dominated world of metal. I have watched them take a ton of abuse from hostile crowds and give the same performance as if it was their own headline show. They have improved every album without compromising what makes them a band. On the ageism angle, similar digs at bands like TRIVIUM, JOB FOR A COWBOY, BLACK TIDE and recently DIAMOND PLATE all received a similar slights early on. Rather than wilt like victims, sisters Morgan and Mercedes Lander have repeatedly beat back this negativity and remained focused on their goals. Through sheer will they have persevered and their latest album, I’ve Failed You is the most fully realized music of their entire career.
Opening with a bombastic few riffs and dropping down into a serious thrash metal chug the first song sees the band already exploring some new musical territory. Morgan Lander’s vocals have now assumed a deadly black metal growling scream that has more in common with Dani Filth or Ken Sorceron than anyone else. The power of the verses is off-set by the cascading chords of the chorus. Guitarist Tara McLeod rips off a cool solo full of hammer-ons with a neat dive bomb at the end. The urgency of the song really sets the grim tone for the entire album and you realize this is not even the KITTIE of a few albums ago. “We Are The Lamb” actually kind of sounds like an ARCH ENEMY song in its tempo until the pre-chorus half-time shift comes in. Mercedes Lander has always been solid behind the kit, but her double kick-work is outstanding here and she is clearly stepping up her game with crisper fills and rolls than ever. Third track “Whisper of Death” has really cool chromatic riffs in it. They have never been shy about their PANTERA influence ever since their first appearance together on Ozzfest back in the day and it shows here. The chorus finally sees Morgan’s melodic singing voice appear which is a nice contrast to her beastly growls. Another boon to the band on this album is stability. Finally having a lineup last more than two years, you can hear the gelling of the players come through in the tracks. For instance bassist Ivy Jenkins has also stepped up and logs a performance worthy of former bassist Jennifer Arroyo (SUICIDE CITY). “What Have I Done” is a slow, churning SABBATH-ian jam that amounts to harsh balladry. Morgan’s bold and mature alto range sits comfortably in the mix and has a lot of soul too. Later in the song, it lifts off into a galloping death dirge with a near perfect circle-pit starting tempo, if only for a little while. McLeod’s bluesy soloing is also impressive. The interlude “Empires (Part 1)” played by McLeod sounds like a classical inspired madrigal. This builds a nice contrast for when “Empires (Part 2)” comes in and kicks your teeth in. The epic, brutal verses chock full of sharp riffs and pulsing beats are contrasted by another catchy chorus and Morgan’s impassioned wail. Jenkins lays down some more cool walking bass runs. The band has really found themselves in a zone with a penchant for the mid-tempo jam. For most of the album it works well. “Already Dead” is one of the best songs here. It has sleek licks that bob and weave in and out of the nautical influenced rhythms. Like much of the album, the lyrical themes are especially dark and ill feeling on this song matching the vocal performance. Other top tracks are the thrash inspired “Ugly” and the brooding “Time Never Heals”. The entire album is a breakthrough for the band with cleverly written and memorable songs to prove it.
By Keith (Keefy) Chachkes