Review Summary: For the first time in their career, Kittie has failed to make progress.
The one thing you could always look forward to on a Kittie album was finding out how the group evolved. Still centered around the nucleus of sisters Morgan (vocals/guitar) and Mercedes Lander (drums), the Kittie of 2011 is barely recognizable when compared to that which debuted with 1999's Spit
- both in terms of sound and personnel. Over the years, shunned by the general metal listening populace, the band has struggled to earn respect as more than that token chick band in the scene. There's no denying that the girls had come a long way. With drastically improved musicianship on the last couple of releases (due in no small part to the skills of new lead guitarist Tara McLeod), Kitte has inched closer and closer to this goal. Featuring a stable lineup for an unprecedented four years in a row, the band seems to have finally found their footing. Unfortunately, they've also decided to stand frozen in place.
Aside from a choice few moments of bravery, the bulk of I've Failed You
finds the heavy riffs paired with Morgan's vicious growls and the choruses matched neatly with her clean singing. Where the plot deviates, such as the all-out assault of the title track, we're often simply left with a standard Kittie song minus the melodic edge which sets them apart from their peers. Unlike the strong attitude and groove-metal feel shown off in "We Are the Lamb", any sort of character displayed on tracks like "Come Undone" is blemished by uninspired riffing and double bass drumming that sounds as if it could have been plucked from any of this year's mediocre metalcore offerings.
For all of it's shortcomings, however, this album does prove that the band has a firm grasp on what has been successful in the past. This is Kittie sounding like Kittie and that is a revelation sure to please the dedicated fanbase already intact. It's a question of if the rest of the world is willing to bother looking deeper to discover the highlights scattered within.
Inspired by the new territory explored on In the Black
's "Kingdom Come", "Empires Part 1" serves as a unique and beautiful acoustic introduction to the more straightforward metal in "Part 2" - which itself manages to stand out as one of the rare instances where bassist's Ivy Vujic's presence can be audibly noticed. Perhaps the most stimulating section of music comes at the hands of final track, "Time Never Heals". Powered by a sludgy riff underneath, a mixture of softly sung trance-like vocals and tasteful lead guitar playing expands out into a near-hypnotic effect. Sadly, it doesn't last as the disappearance of the last soulful note signals that I've Failed You
has come to a close. While this approach may work for a more epic album, fading out of McLeod's expressive guitar solo is ultimately an underwhelming end to a rather modest 35 minute experience just as it finally begins to suck you in. In the end, we're left with nothing more than a solid release lacking the originality and spark needed to move Kittie to the next level.