Metalheads lurk everywhere. It's a teenage disease -- much like hickeys and tantrums -- and it speaks to the raging pile of teen emotion that's typically manifested in slammed doors and volumes turned up to 11. Kittie's heavy, bottomless n-metal is nobody's party music. You know what they say: Nothing kills a beer buzz quicker than a little GRRAAAARRRRRRRdundundundunDUNNNN.

Hailing from London, Ontario -- a midsize city noted for its conservatism and for having the most millionaires per capita in Canada -- sisters Mercedes and Morgan Lander first formed Kittie with a friend, Fallon Bowman, while still in their teens. Since then, at least four other women have passed through the Kittie ranks, each inching the band further into metal -- deeper vocals, more adept musicianship, more distinctive albums. To date, the band has sold several hundred thousand records to fans in the States (and a comparative handful in Canada), been remixed by KMFDM, played Ozzfest and appeared in Sam Dunn's documentary on the expansive metal subculture, Metal: A Headbanger's Journey.

But while singer-guitarist Morgan and drummer Mercedes might appear to be rough birds, offstage the girls could still be mistaken for clubwear shopgirls. Sure, they've logged nearly ten solid years (!) in the metal business -- a remarkable achievement for anyone sane -- but they're still managed by their parents and have a clothing line, for which they model. Cute, right? And so it has to be said: Kittie's all-chick take on "n-metal" isn't as ferocious as it ought to be. Because these girls are, by the mere fact of their existence and success, taking up a serious gender gauntlet. Metal must win or lose on fervor, musical chops and the ability to tap in to those teen-emotion buttons. Spread that disease. And then turn it up to 11.

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Kate Carraway