A new group being touted in America as the next big thing has four teen-age high school girls who write all their own songs, play their own instruments and go by the name of Kittie.
These are not the Spice Girls. In fact, Kittie might be considered a kind of anti-Spice, an all-girl band as sonically hard-hitting, musically accomplished and philosophically aggressive as any of their male heavy-metal counterparts. Its debut album is called “Spit.”
Over the past 15 years, heavy metal (once considered the most conservative of rock styles) has been mutating and subdividing, forging strange alliances with other harsh musical forms such as punk, goth, industrial, electro and even hip hop, and delving into ever darker and more horrific imagery until (in the minds of its practitioners and audience) its musical extremity and lyrical perversity have made it cutting-edge.
They don’t even call it heavy metal any more. They call it things like nu-metal, death metal, slashcore, horrorcore and stomp rock. It’s immensely popular. Heavy metal groups such as Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine and more recently Limp Bizkit and Korn are multimillion-selling superstars.
In its ferocious aggression, metal is a form of music that is predominantly masculine. Which may be one reason to welcome Kittie’s arrival. When you see these four slightly built young women boldly cranking out a set of super-heavy teen-age anthems to a frenzy of violent slam-dancing, you start to understand why people have been talking in terms of their world domination.
The required reaction to Kittie’s twisted riffs and demonic vocals is to hurl yourself screaming, fists flaying into your neighbor.
“That was awesome,” 18-year-old singer and guitarist Morgan Lander declared when the group convened in its tour bus after the gig. “I could look out and see all the violence that was going on.”
Kittie may be every parent’s nightmare. But the father of the Lander sisters seems cheerful enough. When Kittie was discovered by representatives of Ng Records playing in a garage in its hometown of London (as in Ontario) to a tiny audience that included one of the singers’ grannies, Mr. Lander quit his job to manage them.
“They’re great girls,” he beams, with all the conviction you would expect from a former high-flying motor-industry executive. They speak very highly of him too, although Morgan insisted that there should be no doubt about who is really in charge.
“It’s a business, and we’re businesswomen. The family thing stops right there.”