Nu metal may not be the most popular genre right now (just ask bands like Limp Bizkit, Saliva, Puddle of Mudd, etc.), but it never crashed and burned like, say, hair metal or grunge. Many of the bands are still around, although they had to mutate in order to survive, many to the point to where it’s unfair to still bestow the nu metal moniker on them. Linkin Park, the King Kong of nu metal, is now trying to be the next Radiohead. Their new material doesn’t even get played on 99.7 The Blitz anymore. Disturbed has a lot more guitar solos and shredding in their music now, and they tour with bands like Megadeth and Testament. Seemingly only Godsmack can still get away with putting out the same album over and over and over again. Kittie, the all-female quartet from Ontario, Canada, still embraces some nu-metal stylings, but thankfully avoids a lot of the genre’s clichés. No macho posturing and no rapping, although the angst is still there, albeit accompanied by sinister, thrashy guitars, amazing drumming, and vocals that often veer towards death metal.
This album, the sixth of their career, has a short thirty-six-and-a-half-minute runtime, but manages to swerve all over the map, musically. “Ugly,” “We Are the Lamb” and the title cut are balls-out (no offense) thrash fests. The tracks “Empires (Part 1)” and “Empires (Part 2),” taken together, kind of sound like an Americanized version of Opeth, believe it or not. “Part 1” is a melancholy, acoustic intro which segues into the death metal growls and the heavy, ominous riffs of “Part 2.”
There is some filler in the middle, and the album almost derails at the fourth song, “What Have I Done.” At five minutes, twenty-five seconds, it is the longest track on ‘I’ve Failed You,’ but it feels easily twice that long. Its sturm und drang tempo quickly becomes repetitive and boring, and the chorus “Ohhhh, what have I done/Ohhhh, oh setting sun” is repeated over and over again, twelve times in all. The song’s doomy, Sabbath-y riff keeps the track from being a total loss though. Morgan Lander is a very underrated, very underappreciated guitarist.
The album ends on a high note though; the final three songs are a diverse, powerful coda. “Never Come Home” would make a great radio single: melodic yet propelled by a driving beat that elevates it above the usual mainstream radio fodder. The previously mentioned “Ugly” is a blast of speed metal guaranteed to whip up a mosh pit when performed live. Finally, “Time Never Heals” is a powerfully bleak ending to one of the most surprising albums I’ve heard all year. I honestly did not expect ‘I Failed You’ to be this good.
Even though all four members of Kittie are all still in their 20s, they are veterans of the scene and have really taken a giant step forward with the release of ‘I Failed You.’ No longer confined to the nu metal scene that spawned them, Kittie looks set to become perhaps the greatest all-female metal band of all time. It’s actually unfair to classify Kittie as a girl band because they rock just as hard as their male counterparts. The Lander sisters’ musical abilities far exceed most of their peers, as well as most bands played on contemporary hard rock stations.
Kittie was just at the Alrosa Villa on August 19th, but hopefully their tour will eventually bring them back to Columbus in the near future.