I prefer my actual reviews to be serious and informative. ‘First Impressions’ allow for a more director’s commentary approach. I can be silly and talk bollox, or make points that only a handful of people will understand. Usually I will deliver insights into my history with similar music as well as into how my mind works and how both of these things change over time. You will have to either possess a fairly detailed understanding of Rock and Metal history and Subgenre conventions or have a second tab open at Wikipedia to fully follow every single point that I make, but don’t let that put you off…I’m not honestly expecting you to know every single riff or tone I’ll point out off by heart.
The album chosen for me this time is ‘Spit’ Kittie. I thought ‘Oracle’ was the famous one, but whatever. I guess you can say I’m applying the FI formula to a non-classic album. Its happened before.
Anyway, Kittie are a Canadian, all-female (apart from Thine Eyes Bleed’s Jeff…something) band who might’ve been in The Sopranos once, or maybe just a poster. Good memory. Good start.
I usually talk about my history with the genre/subgenre. The subgenre is Nu Metal. I know a lot of people really hate Nu Metal and the term was used as an insult for any bad Metal album at all from about 1997-2005 by idiots who like to complain and who now would be termed ‘trolls.’ Nu Metal to my generation is like Hair Metal to an 80s-Metaller; it got you into Metal, you later grew ‘too cool’ for it when the market became over-saturated, but a few years later when you get drunk in a rock club, you know all the words and drunkenly sing along.
Still, a lot of people are either a bit embarrassed of Nu Metal and either a) pretend not to like it anymore or b) call it ‘guilty pleasures,’ to retain ‘Metal credibility’ but still get to listen to it. Having their cake and being too cool to eat it too. Of course, some people refuse to ever give it a fair chance and act like an elitist tosspot. Look at Amazon reviews of The Burning Red or Iowa from the time if you haven’t experienced this.
Its reasonable to assume that some people just actually don’t like it without having to act like a knob about it I suppose, but that seems less common because of how the internet works. Its usually the assholes with the loudest voice, which is why the million selling works of famous Hair and Nu Metal bands sometimes seem a lot smaller than the thousand-selling works of some ‘cool’ extreme Metal band. When I was a kid I thought Black Metal bands were millionaires in luxurious Mansions… as opposed to a bunch of nerds, pretending to be more important than they are and who have to work real jobs to afford the hobby.
My first few albums were mostly all Nu Metal (about the only thing that wasn’t was Green Day) and I got into or at least tried many bands who influenced the genre (Rage Against The Machine) started off in the genre or got lumped in with it (Slipknot, Mudvyane, System Of A Down) or typified it (Papa Roach, Korn, Linkin Park, Powerman 5000, Limp Bizkit, Union Underground, Ill Nino, Drowning Pool, Soil, Alien Ant Farm, Spineshank, Static-X).
I also enjoyed a few singles here and there by other Nu Metal bands like ‘A Certain Shade Of Green’ by Incubus, ‘The Last Time’ by Downer and ‘Fish Out Of Water’ by One Minute Silence. Oh and Coal Chamber’s ‘Fiend’ and ‘Something Told Me’ but I got a lend of their debut album and it seemed so bad to me at the time it turned me off them completely and absolutely forever.
Even after it had mostly gone away I still managed to get into Flaw, who I still really enjoy to this day.
Still, its not like I’m Mr. Nu Metal and love it unconditionally, there were loads of bands about I never got into at all, like Crazy Town, OPM, Taproot, Adema, Hoobastank, Defenestration, Dope, Slaves On Dope, Dry Kill Logic, Orgy, Otep, and the subject of this entry, Kittie.
You see, the problem with Nu Metal was that a lot of it was shite. More specifically, a lot of the albums were shite. More specifically, the bands wrote good singles, but dull albums. More specifically, collectives of musicians wrote…. Oh you get the picture.
For every Tonight The Stars Revolt and Through The Eyes (actually good albums) there was five Satellites, Strictly Diesels and One Minute Sciences. (NOT actually good albums.) Its hard to stay a fan when you only have two or three songs to cling on to, especially because a lot of the bands only released one or two high profile albums and dropped off into obscurity.
How many people know every word to every song on Alien Ant Farm’s Truant album?
Some lucky bands (Disturbed and Linkin Park) just got to stay massive and just get called Rock when the Nu Metal bubble burst. Wait a minute…. Fuck the history lesson.
A heavyish riff comes in. It’s a bit like ‘St Anger’ and ‘A New Level.’ Some drums come in. The production on them is awful. But at least the song sounds angry. It reminds me of Ross Robinson. Did he produce it? …Wikipedia said no. Oh well. It also said all the songs were written when the band were 14. That’s impressive I guess.
The song is short. The vocals mix “bored talking” and angry shouts. Like much post-Nirvana music did.
The next song reminds me of Chimaira’s debut in the heavy parts and Silverchair in the melodic bits. Its called ‘Charlotte.’ Its probably not about Charlotte Church. Then it quiets down to a nice, bass-lead clean part that reminds me of Blink-182 for some reason. It sounds like water. If there was a music video it would either have to be on a lighthouse or a galley, or else the director would have failed. Its ending is especially like Chiamira’s debut. (I wonder if Kittie become a fucking amazing Metalcore band after this? – probably not)
The next song, called ‘Suck’ reminds me of the ‘My Own Summer’ by the Deftones. The vocals aren’t great. Its more melodic than “bored talking” but its that Jonathan Davis influenced, “hurt talk-singing.” The song then falls asleep around 2.40. That’s cool I suppose. The Mars Volta did it better. But still, it’s a cool idea. The ending is a giant anti-climax though. I hope they made it bigger live.
Next up comes ‘Do You Think I’m A Whore?’ – It really reminds me of Korn’s first album until a flappy drum beat comes in. I don’t think she’s a whore to be honest, but I’m not entirely sold on the song, except the fun staccato bits with the quick tom rolls. That’s the good Nu Metal right there. Its just the grunge influence lets it down for my particular tastes.
I don’t know how else to describe it other than “the good bits come in stabs” and “the bad bits come as waves.”
The next song, at first reminds me of early Soulfly. Then it turns out to be ‘Brackish’ when the chorus kicks in (it was always Brackish to be honest, but that’s not the point) and I drown in a fit of nostalgia. Images of the music video, and my youth, and laughing at the famous ‘car crash’ live performance as a teenager all slap me about the face. I can barely hear the song, I just hear the nostalgia. Where’d that electronic bit come from and how badly is it meshed with the return of the chorus. The producer. …and VERY.
The next song sounds a bit like Fear Factory (of all things) in places, with plenty of Korn. Its surprisingly heavy. Anyone who says that Nu Metal isn’t Metal should listen to this and reassess. ‘Johnny’ by the way. It was called ‘Johnny.’
The next song is called ‘Trippin’ the vocals really remind me of Papa Roach’s debut. The song keeps stopping, in a way that I’d say was cool if a Prog band did it. (Hey, I’m just being an honest hypocrite) and the main riff is fairly good.
It goes fast after a bit, and sounds like ‘My Own Summer’ again. Terribly anti-climactic ending though. Still, best song so far.
‘Raven’ comes next. It sounds so perfectly like the stereotype Nu Metal song that it would be a good example to use in a documentary about the genre, alongside one that was a bit more Rappy and one that was a bit more Industrial. Cuz that’s how it works. …its entireity is made of different elements. Sometimes it was a bit, oh, you know. Or you don’t… but, figure it out. Listen to ‘Raven’ by Kittie and then ‘Infest’ by Papa Roach and then ‘Bombshell’ by Powerman 5000, and know that they’re all Nu Metal and then process that information so as to understand, at least partially, the parameters and boundaries of the subgenre. Or don’t. And just call it all ‘Screamo’ like teenagers around Manchester do, or ‘Grunger Music’ like teenagers in Nortern Ireland did when I was growing up. Call it those things and be WRONG. And A Dick. Cannibal Corpse and Clutch and Pantera are all the genre ‘Screamo’ and Hawthorn Heights are the genre ‘good rock music’ and eggs are bacon and the internet is a Ford Mondeo and you aren’t a dick.
Next up is the song ‘Get Off (You Can Eat a Dick)’ which has a fun drum beat until it goes overused, and guitar moaning that I don’t really care for. It gets good when it gets energetic briefly. As a song its too mushy. It would’ve been enjoyable if I’d heard it at the time, I’ll give it that. It reminds me of Slipknot when it isn’t being slow. It also commits the cardinal sin (geddit) of slapping an unnecessary prayer in there. And then ending again without ending. Geez, why do these gals hate satisfying endings so much? (That is not a sex joke by the way, I’ve decided apart from saying ‘Gals’ patronizingly once, I’d avoid anything sexual or sexist since the internet already has that covered… even though they write songs with ‘Dick’ and ‘Whore’ in the title).
‘Choke.’ Bored talking. Not-my-taste guitars. Good in the energetic bits. Same old story. Except it actually ends properly. Hooray. New best song thus far.
Next up is ‘Paper Doll.’ It has additional-percussion and actual singing. Its cool. It adds a nice touch of variety to the album that had started to get a bit samey.
The last song ‘Immortal’ has lots of new ideas and reminds me a lot of Fear Factory again. Its instrumental. Its short though. And it barely ends at all. So, the album barely ends at all. Should’ve swapped it and ‘Choke’ around then. Also put ‘Paper Doll’ in the middle of the album.
I doubt I’ll ever want to listen to this again, but it wasn’t a laugh-at-how-bad-it-is mess of terrible proportions. It actually had some neat ideas, a few enjoyable heavy bits and it was better than a lot of other Nu Metal albums I’ve heard.
I’ll never be a Kittie fan. Still, for a Canadian Nu Metal All Girl group, Kittie have a remarkably high mind-share among me and my peers. I’ll give them this though – a lot of Nu Metal bands drag their albums down being annoyingly slow and dull in the verses and Kittie rarely do that. Even their slow bits are actually kind of mid-paced. They aren’t annoying.
They aren’t particularly good though. I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone for any reason really. Its got some of the right elements but it doesn’t have any magic or x-factor. So, uh… give it a miss I guess.
Ironically, I don’t know how to end this entry.
Side note – Kittie have a song called ‘Pussy Sugar.’ …Just sayin.