KITTIE, I’ve Failed You  (2011, E1 Music)

The skull:
Aesthetically this has a goth rock sort of feel, what with the roses (which are starting to dry up) and the feathers (which I’m assuming are not attached to the bird anymore, and also starting to dry up). And the skull, which is also something once living now dead. It’s a fairly well put together image, if on the generic/predictable side of skull covers. And that’s an interesting parallel to what this band is doing, musically.

The music:
I’ve successfully avoided listening to the music of Kittie since their inception. They’re one of those late ’90s bands that started out playing nu metal and then realized how crappy nu metal is and have since branched out to find their own style. It can be done, and sometimes a former nu metal band turns into a fantastic one; a couple post-nu units — Dredg and Deftones — count among the the greatest bands of recent times (the former having the good sense to drop the “nu” as early as their demo stage). Can Kittie do it? They claim influence from Pantera, Testament, Carcass, At the Gates, Acid Bath, Van Halen and Metallica, and you can hear all of that in I’ve Failed You. The album isn’t as horrible as I expected. The worst of it sounds like Sonic Syndicate fronted by Arch Enemy’s Angel Gossow, and that’s pretty awful. But there’s more variety than that would suggest. It’s like a survey of all popular heavy music since the grunge era: the Alice In Chains-esque “What Have I Done,” latter-day In Flames vibes with “We Are the Lamb,” and Trivium-esqe guitar work on “Empires (Part 2).” It’s performed well, showing them to be a highly competent group of gals, but there’s also a lack of authenticity, like they’re too-deliberately trying to please everyone, coming off with a passionless factory assembly line sort of feel. Some of it, like “Come Undone,” couldn’t be more generic in its psuedo-Gothenburg-isms, and I wouldn’t want to be caught dead listening to the emo-junk of “Never Come Home.” It’s not all bad, and I’m almost embarrassed to admit that, but when something like “Ugly” gets past its first few horrible minutes to lay out a seriously brooding atmosphere and some excellent guitar work, I have to get over myself and offer credit where it’s due. Overall, though, it panders way too much to the extreme metal mainstream — as such a thing exists — for me to feel much attachment to. And it’s not compelling me to return once I’ve done my duty of reviewing it for Big Dumb Skulls. But I will give Kittie a smidgen more credit than I might have about 90 minutes ago.
— Friar Wagner

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