As much as Kittie benefited from the late-'90s nü-metal explosion, they were always one smart step removed from it: From the scrappy, Hole-via-Cannibal Corpse death-grunge of 1999's Spit, to the Pantera-style bludgeoning of 2001's Oracle, to the finessed, goth-tinged chug of 2004's Until the End, the all-female Canadian quartet never followed nü-metal trends; they just applied new rules to old-metal standards. With their fourth album (and the first for their new, self-funded label), Funeral for Yesterday, Kittie starts out in familiar territory, using the first few tracks to force early Black Sabbath through a Swedish-death-metal meat grinder. On the anthemic "Around Your Heart," however, frontwoman Morgan Lander ditches her trademark growl for a nasally croon that's more My Chemical Romance than molten metal; and as the music follows suit, Funeral rolls out the modern sounds of Kittie 2.0: a kinder, gentler roar in which the band embraces the pop atmospheres they'd only toyed with on Until the End. It's a risky move, but as with the sundry styles they tackled previously, Kittie nails it even if they've been, you know, "declawed" in the process.
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