Placed on indefinite hiatus in 2017, KITTIE returned to the attention of the metal public with their documentary Kittie: Origins / Evolutions in 2018. But there wasn’t much news after that until sporadic festival appearances in 2022. 2023 saw their first new music in 12 years with the song Vultures. Now, 13 years after I’ve Failed You we have Fire and the question: is the world ready for the return of KITTIE?

Having had many labels stuck on them over the years, is it even reasonable to start the debate about where they slot in? The opening duo on Fire bring an aggression that may equally shock the unfamiliar and curious. The title track is a clear statement of intent, with its thick riff, raging vocal roar that switches between clean and extreme styles throughout the album, and a production which is crystal clear. Legendary producer Nick Raskulinecz has done a superb job, unleashing the four individuals in a way that allows each to breath yet combine in an intense audio experience.Morgan Lander’s rasping roars are impressive, with the saccharine backing vocals adding harmonies that provide balance. It’s a snarling intro that is continued on I Still Wear This Crown which brushes with the fringes of the death metal sound. A big stomping vibe is evident, although the soaring cleans do take away some of this.

KITTIE have played it straight on Fire. The songs are all under four-minutes in length, and they’ve kept the songs reasonably routine. That’s not to say they aren’t enjoyable by any stretch, as songs including Vultures and We Are Shadows certainly get the head nodding along. Dominated by thick riffs and a tightly knit rhythm section that gets the grove moving, it’s Morgan’s soaring vocals that provide much of the interest. Her performance throughout Fire is solid, with the switch from death growls to soaring cleans adding depth. I’ll admit that at times, one might be tempted to suggest that the occasional song with one style of vocals may provide some respite.

It’s not all gold though, and the album does drift slightly in the middle with One Foot In The Grave and Are You Entertained? a little lacklustre. KITTIE pick up the tempo once more on Grime, which sees more snarling vocals over the driving direction of the song. Whilst the band’s songwriting is at times formulaic, they finish on a real high with the single Eyes Wide Open which is a vicious, high tempo song and a real beast to bring the album to a close.

It may have been a long wait, but overall, Fire makes the wait worthwhile. Fiery, savage in parts but with ample melody built into each track, this is an album that may well herald the return of one of metal’s more interesting bands.

Paul Hutchings