Sound — 7
Nothing can keep Kittie down. The band has changed members and labels on nearly every album. However, In the Black is the ladies first album for new label E1 and marks the first time that Kittie have had the same line up on back-to-back records. These stabilities have certainly cemented the chemistry and the level of play on the record. With sisters Morgan and Mercedes Lander vocals/guitar and drums, respectively- remaining the only constants, you might expect Kittie to have thrown in the towel by now. Good thing they didn't, because In the Black could very well be the Canadian quartet's best effort. That remains to be seen, by time and tide, but when stacked up against their catalogue, In the Black incorporates elements from each of their four prior albums. They're older, they're wiser and they've improved immensely on their instruments. There's a boatload of deathy riffs and Morgan Lander trades off with herself, using three styles of vocals, from scream to guttural growl to a melodic croon. My Plague, which is not to be confused with the Slipknot song of the same name, and Cut Throat boasts semi-Southern grooves and are more than ripe for headbanging. Kittie's cover of The Misfits' Die My Darling is certainly more metallic than Metallica's was, and the girls' stamp the classic with their Kittie flair. In the early years, this writer was critical of Kittie's musical sloppiness, but is pleased to report that In the Black is their tightest, most efficient and quality playing. They've raised their skill level considerably over the years. Now or Never could easily be a single that garners late-night airplay on risk-taking, hard rock radio stations, while Ready Aim Riot isn't the grrl-power, punked out anthem that its name would suggest. It's just another song where Kittie shove a fistful o' metal down your constricted throat, with a guitar solo that comes two minutes and 20 seconds into the fray. Album closing The Truth commences like a funeral hymn, with dirty rock riffs schooled on Pantera, and Lander shrieking like a possessed coven leader.
Lyrics — 7
Morgan Lander asserts herself on In the Black. She is able to employ an almost black metal style of singing on many parts of the album, and it's rare for a woman to think about going there, much less actually go there! She's able to go shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Dani Filth when she uses this voice and just when she reaches the edge of the cliff, she steps back and throws her clean singing style at you. There's an eclectic range of vocal patterns and pitches on In the Black, especially on a slower, prettier number like Sorrow I Know, which could have easily been written on the band's debut, Spit, which, by the way, came out almost a decade ago!
Overall Impression — 8
Kittie's always been more of a lioness than a domesticated house cat, so to speak. The band has never, ever shied away from mixing granite-heavy guitars with just the right modicum of melody. Perhaps they've perfected that formula, which is one that they've been mixing for nearly ten years, with In the Black. Sometimes it takes a few albums to come into your own and into the black!