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[Album Review] Kittie - Spit

September 2nd, 2022 (originally published June 23rd, 2022)


spit is an album by the canadian heavy metal band kittie, released in 2000 as their debut. as a whole, it's an incredible experience, raw and unique in a way that's hard to find.

i've been meaning to review this album for quite a while! i've just been so busy with work that i haven't had the time or energy to go through the whole album and do it properly. but here we are!

i've listened to this album countless times now, but here's a couple notable times: first half-listen was while i was at the gym on the exercise bike going for my life, and i wasn't actually sure on it at that point, so i switched to something else mid-way through. a couple days later on the bus i finished the album and was surprised by how much i loved it, then went back and re-listened to the beginning songs and realized it just wasn't the kinda music i wanted to listen to at the gym. since then, i've listened to it a bunch, and i finally feel ready to describe it and share my thoughts on it!

though it's not graphic, this review will contain mentions of abuse and pedophilia. this is specifically in the songs brackish and choke. if you're particularly sensitive to these topics, i'd recommend proceeding with caution or skipping those songs altogether.


the album opens with an incredibly lively riff in spit that always makes me worried my headphones are broken because one of the lead guitars is panned fully to the left. spit sets the tone for the whole album: it's loud, passionate, grungy, and the dissonant vocals paired with ragged screams invite you into a place of intense emotion. often rage. pretty much always rage on some level. the members of kittie were all teenagers at the time. it was always gonna be mostly rage.

specific to spit, the meaning of the song - and, in my opinion, a fantastic kick-in-the-teeth start to the album - is that it refers to crowds and other local bands in kittie's hometown of london, ontario "expecting [them] to suck" and not taking them seriously on account of being an all girl metal band. it's a direct response to the misogyny of the music scene and the glory of being able to prove their shitty assumptions wrong and blow their fuckin minds.

after spit, we drop quite abruptly to a much slower pace in charlotte, a haunting song that lead singer morgan lander wrote after reading rites of burial, a 1992 book about serial killer robert berdella. paperdoll follows immediately after with almost mournful vocals and simple yet distinct percussion, both of which carry consistently throughout the song until the end, a desperate plea for the subject's pain and self-destruction to not only be acknowledged, but consumed, made useful.

from there we go to the much less emotionally complex suck, where heavily distorted guitar is utilized during the verse/B-sections to bring a sense of nagging irritation, paired with simple descriptive lyrics and a return to screams and growls. i'm particularly a fan of her screaming "FUCK YOU, YOU THINK YOU'RE SO FUNNY" over and over at the end.

do you think i'm a whore is the next track and one of my favourites of the whole album. what always jumps out at me is the vocal intonations and the use of harmonic dissonance. this song grabs you from the very start and only tightens its grip, and feels deeply vulnerable. the song describes the subject being torn between their self-perception and that of their partner, without having a clear view of their actual reality. the truth of the matter isn't the point: the root is the subject's emotional turmoil, their fear and obsession over what their partner and other people must think of them, their self-loathing almost regardless of the answer. the outro, in which "i'm a whore" is sung and then screamed with increasing intensity, finishes the song on a note of glorious defeat - the subject has decided their own reality and submits to it.

marking the middle of the album is brackish, the song that made me discover kittie! i first heard it on RTRFM's show siamese dream a few days after international womens' day, when the host's set was entirely music by women. i was hooked on it for ages and i kind of still am.
what initially drew me to the song was the chorus - sharp bold drums and chunky guitars under a long, held note sung over furious quickstep screaming like an internal boiling rage, panning rapidly but smoothly from left to right. but what would a good chorus be without the contrast of verse and bridge? kittie uses this contrast greatly to their advantage, using minimal instrumentals during verses to hit you like a truck with the chorus. following the third verse is a refrain that sounds like the musical equivalent of grinding your teeth and feeling powerless - then an abrupt shift of tempo into a slow, sludgy rhythm with rumbling guitars that devolves into a unique electronic instrumental section that is then slammed by the sledgehammer of that fuming chorus. the song ends on a slow fade, leaving you with a sense of the anger being endless but also tired, repeating itself again and again, too exhausting to continue but never really fading away.
the song's theme itself appears to be the subject knowing their friend is experiencing abuse but being unable for many reasons to help, leaving them with the frustration and fear of a helpless witness. the screamed parts are performed with something akin to desperation, but it's expertly mixed and performed to denote that these are only thoughts the subject cannot directly express. it's a brutal song, but my favourite thing about media is when it kicks me in the head, so this is my other favourite from the album.

jonny comes next, one of the slightly more lacking songs of the album, though it's still really good. the instrumentals are fantastic, but i'm not as much a fan of the vocals and lyrics. i feel similarly about trippin' - the lyrics are quite simple and i don't find the music particularly interesting. i think it's not heavy enough for me, maybe. i might come back to this when i understand better why i'm not that into them.

what strikes you immediately when raven comes on is a thick meaty bassline, mostly isolated from the other instruments when used but enhancing them during the vocal segments. again we have a really funky tempo shift for the choruses, quick and snappy and menacing, screaming "GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME / STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME" repeatedly while the bass, guitars and drums rage on in the background. the bridge is one of my favourite sections, furiously muttered lyrics over a smooth bassline and staccato power chords from the guitars, tempo shifted once again. i like that this song doesn't really let you get your footing.

the title of get off (you can eat a dick) is pretty evocative, and i'm happy to say it's pretty suitable for the song. the lyrics are simple enough, but tell the story of the subject feeling manipulated and used by someone in their life. it's possibly a reference to christianity, judging by the first stanza of the lord's prayer at the end of the song, but i'm never really sure with these kinds of things.

choke is an extremely good song and the last track on the album to include vocals. i'd say it's probably another one of the best songs on the album. it is relatively graphically about the subject as a victim of coercive pedophilia, and their hurt and rage and betrayal at understanding the gravity of that. the vocals for this song are performed by fallon bowman, one of the lead guitarists for the band. musically and lyrically this song is incredibly raw. if i had better words to describe it, i would, but some music hasn't really got words to describe it - so i'd recommend listening to it if you do want to experience the full vibe of it.

closing out the album, immportal is an instrumental track that surprisingly opens with a piano organ and a harpsichord as primary instruments along with much lighter than usual bass, guitar and percussion. it weaves in and out of industrial metal territory, utilizing electronic noises and distortion, and the whole song gives you a sense of creeping dread and enormity before finishing on sustained chords for each instrument. i think it's a really good way to end the album - it's still lively, has a very distinct energy to it, but it's a good cool-down from the roaring intensity of the previous songs.

my final thoughts... i just really love this album, man. it's uniquely good. i especially like how morgan lander screams in it, i love her vocals in general, they're so cool. i wanna show it to everyone but it's not gonna be everyone's cup of tea. i highly recommend it if you enjoy metal and heavy grunge!