Heavy metal has a long and ignoble tradition of female-led bands that just begs for a juicy Behind the Music-type documentary. In light of Lita Ford's T&A power-ballad videos, Betsy Bitch's "heavy" aluminum and Tori Amos's deliciously awful first album (the apropos-of-nothing Why Kan't Tori Read?), it quickly becomes clear why all the metal dudes were dressed in drag during the '80s; the ladies may have been moved by the spirit, but they couldn't feel the music. If VH1 has designs on producing a Lady Metal version of their musical misery tour, they'd better crank it out before Kittie finishes rewriting the book on girls and guitars.

In the time it took to release two albums and tour the world, Kittie has destroyed the long-held belief that girls can't forge metal. Kittie's latest album, Oracle (Artemis), is a head-whipping whirl of bristling riffs and hard-charging drums that most male metal bands would kill for. But when it comes to spite, malice and revenge fantasies, no one can outwork a teenage girl, and Kittie is three teenage girls. So keep your mouth shut, because they're genetically superior at this sort of thing, as Oracle proves.

Guitarist/vocalist Morgan Lander has a volcanic, hissing screech that could bubble steel, and she seems more than willing to drag her guitar over the train tracks into the black-metal side of town. From the blast beats and nearly unintelligible howls of the title track to the slow, grinding death march of the inappropriately named "Pink Lemonade," Kittie brutalizes metal the way a pretty girl brutalizes hormonally challenged boys.

It's about fucking time.

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Paul Friswold
Contact: Paul Friswold