Released: 2009, Koch Records
Seriously? Kittie are still around? I’m sure to many readers that seems entirely unnecessary, and I would be inclined to agree, at first. While the girls were rightly reviled for their, frankly, awful mallcore music on their earlier albums, they’ve managed to keep plugging away with their somewhat low-key career. I will freely admit that I haven’t heard a single note of music from Kittie since their debut album SPIT, so I was actually mildly curious to hear where they’re at four albums later.
After an intro, things kick into high gear with the shockingly black-metal infused “My Plague”. No, this is not the firestorm of pure hate brought by black metal’s second wave bands, but it’s certainly FAR heavier and authentic than anything from SPIT. Thankfully, this song is not misleading as the rest of IN THE BLACK continues the amped up aggression with occasional turns into Drain S.T.H.-inspired dissonance (“Sorrow I Know”, “Falling Down”). Overall, it sounds like Kittie have blended black metal, metalcore, and melodic death metal into their base mallcore sound, although they have wisely pushed the majority of the mallcore nonsense into the background. Of course, the cynic in me says that blending that many styles into the music just means that the band is trying to appeal to as many fans as possible, but somehow Kittie actually sounds convincing.
But... (you knew there was a “but”). Yes, IN THE BLACK is relatively impressive as a step forward for Kittie. The problem is that it’s not a step forward for anyone else. The whole album is paint-by-numbers without originality. It’s not enough that Kittie have progressed beyond their roots – let’s face it, those were some pretty shallow roots and not particularly hard to surpass. So no, Kittie are not quite there yet and I don’t know if they ever will be, but they’re trying, so here’s hoping they succeed.