By Carl Begai
Kittie threw down the gauntlet in 2007 with Funeral For Yesterday, an album that earned them a truckload of credibility amongst the metal masses for nailing the coffin shut on the alterna-nu-metalcore sound that yanked the spotlight in their direction in the late ‘90s. The highly anticipated 2009 follow-up, In The Black, cemented Kittie’s place at the table occupied by old school metal purists and a younger generation with its collective head in the right place. No surprise, then, that I’ve Failed You stomps even deeper into the realms of metal, crushing any lingering thoughts of the foursome as nothing more than an all-female novelty act. The level of musicianship and song dynamics on the album, on the other hand, is a bloody revelation.
Not that Kittie didn’t have the chops before, but if “maturity” is a dirty word the ladies have been mud-bathing for the last year and come out all guns blazing.
The opening salvo of the title track sets the tone for the album, with drummer Mercedes Lander off on a rip-and-tear, turning in what has to be her best recorded work to date. Most of the songs occupy a comfortable mid-tempo pocket, but the proceedings are neither dry nor predictable thanks to Mercedes’ ridiculous energy level throughout (read: if it can be hit, it will be pounded). As busy as the drums get, however, the songs feature miles of space for frontwoman/sister Morgan Lander and guitarist Tara McLeod to play around with. There’s plenty of what has become trademark shred from the pair, lessons in all things Carcass and Black Sabbath learned well. And, Lander has (finally) found the perfect balance of naked-growls-to-melodic-clean singing, often letting one approach dominate from song to song rather than phoning in a trendy Soilwork flip-flop vocal performance that so many of Kittie’s peers get away with.
The band and producer Siegfried Meier have taken a “keep it simple, stupid” approach with the entire package and it shows, right down to a brilliant 36 minute all killer / no bullshit running time.
Picking fave tracks off I’ve Failed You is a pain, which is perhaps the ultimate stamp of approval. First single ‘We Are The Lamb’ is the Kittie crusher guaranteed to hook the masses, with the rhythmically clever ‘Empires (Part 2)’ showing off the band’s chops. ‘Ugly’ is a short but sweet injection of piss-and-venom, while ‘What Have I Done’ shines for its Sabbath dirge, which becomes something even heavier and meaner mid-song. On the lighter end of the scale ‘Never Come Home’ is melodic Morgan updating the Funeral For Yesterday vibe, and ‘Time Never Heals’ lets folks off the rollercoaster with class.
Of course, there are the drama queens out there that’ll fluff off the above as a Canadian homeboy paying lip service to his own. A fair accusation, but completely off the mark because if I’ve Failed You sucked it wouldn’t be worth wasting time or precious earwax on, origins be damned. To these ears, I’ve Failed You is a damn near perfect record, and it takes a lot to impress someone as jaded and spoiled as Yours Truly.