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Pioneering Canadian band Kittie specializes in punishing heavy metal that has evolved through the decades. They debuted in 1999 with a gothic nu-metal sound heard on their breakthrough debut Spit -- home to their most enduring hits -- that would shift into a more traditional metal style indebted to influences Metallica and Slayer on subsequent albums like Oracle, Until the End, and Funeral for Yesterday, all U.S. indie Top 10 releases. While Kittie's lineup changed multiple times over the years, the band remained centered around the core songwriting duo of sisters Mercedes and Morgan Lander. During an extended hiatus in the 2010s, Kittie kept their legacy alive with a greatest hits set and a retrospective documentary, staging a big comeback in the 2020s with Fire, their first album in over a decade. While still in high school, drummer Mercedes Lander and guitarist Fallon Bowman decided to start a band together. In need of a singer, Mercedes sought out her older sister Morgan to tackle vocal duties. Once bassist Tanya Candler was recruited, the first iteration of Kittie was born (though Candler would part ways with the band before the release of its debut, replaced by Talena Atfield). After a fortuitous booking at Canadian Music Week in 1999, Kittie signed with the NG Records-distributed Artemis Records and entered the studio to record their debut full-length album in just nine days. Helmed by producer Garth "GGGarth" Richardson (Rage Against the Machine, Mudvayne, L7), Spit showcased an abrasive metal sound that quickly caught mainstream attention with its feral lead single, "Brackish." The album was eventually certified gold, and the Paperdoll EP followed a year later. In 2001, Bowman left Kittie just months before the release of their sophomore album, Oracle, which edged further into death/thrash metal territory. Debuting outside the Top 50 on the Billboard 200, the set included the single "What I Always Wanted" and a cover of Pink Floyd's "Run Like Hell." They quickly followed with 2002's Safe EP, which featured six live tracks and remixed versions of the title track. That year, Atfield left Kittie and was replaced by Jennifer Arroyo for the recording of their next LP. Until the End arrived in 2004. Featuring the upbeat single "Into the Darkness," album number three peaked outside the Top 100 on the Billboard 200. During this era, additional lineup shifts occurred: guitarist Lisa Marx briefly joined the band for a year and Arroyo left in early 2005 to join Suicide City. By 2006, Kittie comprised the Lander sisters alongside guitarist Tara McLeod and bassist Trish Doan. The group released Funeral for Yesterday the following year. The album's title track would become Kittie's highest-charting U.S. single to date. Yet another lineup shakeup occurred when Doan took a break from the band for personal health reasons, replaced by Ivy Vujic. The Lander sisters, McLeod, and Vujic entered the studio with producer Siegfried Meier and album five, In the Black, arrived in 2009. After an extensive stint of international touring, the band got back to recording. In August of 2011 Kittie released the full-length I've Failed You, followed by a pair of video singles in "We Are the Lamb" and "Empires, Pt. 2." In the aftermath of their support tour, Mercedes took on a side project by joining the female power pop band the Alcohollys, which included former Kittie bassist Tanya Candler. In early 2012 Vujic left the band and Doan was welcomed back to the fold. The best-of compilation Not So... Safe was released on September 11 of that year. In March 2014, Kittie undertook a crowdfunding campaign to create a documentary film and write a book to celebrate the band's 20th anniversary. They hired director Rob McCallum to helm the film, and Mark Eglinton to assist in writing the biography. The band reached its goal in eight hours and eventually raised more than double its stated goal. After filming for the documentary concluded, tragedy struck Kittie in February 2017 when Doan suddenly passed away in Australia at the age of 31. In October 2017, the band played a one-night-only reunion gig in Ontario with the original Kittie lineup. Early the next year, Kittie announced that the documentary project was finally completed. The three-disc set, entitled Origins/Evolutions, was released via Lightyear Entertainment in March; it featured the McCallum-directed film on Blu-ray and DVD and a live album. While the band maintained a quiet profile for the next couple years, they were busy staging a significant return, which began in the early 2020s with a handful live appearances and a signing with Sumerian Records. Their first new material in over a decade, "Eyes Wide Open," was released in February 2024. "We Are Shadows" and "Vultures" followed soon after. These tracks landed on the band's sixth studio full-length Fire, which arrived that June.
© Neil Z. Yeung & Roxanne Blanford /TiVo


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