"A supremely assured return from a band who are intent on creating something fresh, new and exciting." Kittie have completed one of modern metal's great comebacks with Fire

Twenty five years on from nu metal breakthrough Spit, Fire proves that Kittie are a vital modern metal band with plenty left to say

(Image: © Press)

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Kittie seem to have spent most of their career trying to distance themselves from their most successful album. Although they always exhibited more aggressive strands than most of their contemporaries, the band’s 1999 debut, Spit, was firmly positioned in the nu metal sphere. By their second album, Oracle, they had stepped away from that scene entirely, with a more extreme sound and grooves that owed more to Obituary than Korn. They explored new directions and kept the consistency high for the next decade, but interest gradually fizzled out and, when bassist Trish Doan passed away in 2017, it looked like the band would fizzle out too.

Instead, they were swept up in a wave of nostalgia, with high-profile appearances at the When We Were Young and Sick New World festivals thrusting them back into the public eye. “For a long time in the nu metal hangover era, it was a bit of a bad word,” frontwoman Morgan Lander told Hammer. “While I still don’t think we are a nu metal band now, being associated with that genre wasn’t such a bad thing.” With Kittie finally embracing their origins and Spit turning 25 this year, it might seem that the time is right for them to join that still-burgeoning nu metal revival. They certainly give a nod to the past, but this is no turn-of-the-century flashback. Fire dips into every era of the band’s history, while also applying a muscular modern makeover that froths and spits with vitality.

That isn’t to say that the debut doesn’t have its reference points. The opening Fire begins with an initial barrage of guitars that isn’t a million miles away from the one that ushered in Spit’s own introductory title track. There’s a chunky time-travelling riff in there as well, but the song twists and veers while Morgan gives an absolute masterclass in power and versatility. Her screams could grace the harshest of musical landscapes, and she expertly weaves those eerie clean melodies around the heavier elements in a way that is now familiar to longterm fans. As the album unfolds, so does a more protean range set between those two extremes, with the singer’s delivery seemingly influenced by her ongoing tenure in melodic death metallers Karkaos.

I Still Wear This Crown sees more larynx- shredding as Morgan pointedly declares, ‘I am unbroken, I still wear this crown.’ Vultures rides an absolute piledriver of a riff, while Grime is a suitably gritty slab of pure aggression with some seriously weighty breakdowns. At the other end of the spectrum, the infectious Falter is more redolent of Kittie’s most resolutely melodic album, 2007’s Funeral For Yesterday, with the harsher elements serving as a counterpoint. One Foot In The Grave is more of a modern rock singalong anthem, but Kittie are at their best when – as is frequently the case here – they balance the dualistic elements of heaviness and melody within the same song. This is a supremely assured return from a band who, while acknowledging what has gone before, are intent on creating something fresh, new and exciting. This Kittie still has claws.

Fire is out this Friday, June 21

Paul Travers has spent the best part of three decades writing about punk rock, heavy metal, and every associated sub-genre for the UK's biggest rock magazines, including Kerrang! and Metal Hammer