March 27, 2018 Kittie – Origins/Evolutions (DVD/CD Review)
In a time when Metal was a man’s game, a group of four Canadian teenage girls, led by a pair of sisters, had the audacity to shred with the boys. With twenty years under their belts now, the ground-breaking Metal mavens in Kittie offer up the retrospective package, Origins/Evolutions, which arrives on Friday, March 30, 2018, thanks to Lightyear Entertainment.
With millions of albums sold, six studio albums, and having shared stages with everyone from Slipknot to Insane Clown Posse, Kittie are Heavy Metal royalty. Formed in London, Ontario, Canada, in 1996, while still very much in high school, the band – led by the Lander sisters Morgan and Mercedes – have ridden a wave of dramatic highs and lows throughout their 20+ years in the music industry. Spitting their way across stages before you were even in diapers, these ladies are now celebrating the past two decades with the 3-disc package, Origins/Evolutions, composed of (1) DVD, (1) Blu-ray, and (1) live CD celebrating the band’s phenomenal career.
The DVD/Blu-ray contains a 93-minute Documentary on the band directed by Robert McCallum. A mixture of old footage and interview segments, this is a wonderfully-authored representation of the band’s career from their own lips. Sitting down to tell their story through unfiltered and candid discussion, Singer/Guitarist Morgan and Drummer/Backing Vocalist Mercedes serve as the anchors for this conversational look at their band’s history.
On paper, the history of Kittie reads like a revolving door of musicians. In this Documentary, the humanity behind those changes is given detailed attention, offering up a cohesive story that explains the inner-workings of the band and each decision made along their roller-coaster ride of success. Featuring current and former Kittie members – Fallon Bowman, Tanya Candler, Jeff Phillips, Jennifer Arroyo, Tara McLeod, Trish Doan, and Ivy Vujic – this is a film that offers up an honest backstory to each arrival and departure, shedding light on the myriad of changing personnel that encompasses the band’s career span. The lady’s detailed tale also contains supportive commentary from the likes of Deanna Lander, Morgan and Mercedes’ mother and a pivotal woman behind the band’s career; Producer Garth Richardson; Paul Gargano of Metal Edge Magazine; band friend Yasmina Ketita; Engineer Rob Nation; family friend and Producer Gord Prior; and Producer Siegfried Meier.
Split into two segments, this Documentary details the Origins of the band – from toddler Morgan throwing a temper tantrum on a home video to their first, career-boosting Battle of the Bands – and, in the Evolutions portion of the story, details 2005 to the present with a gentle eye focused toward the future of Kittie. Throughout, there is old-school film footage of the band over the years, starting in 1998 and weaving through studio sessions, music videos (“Brackish,” “Into the Darkness,” “Funeral For Yesterday,” “Sorrow I Know,” “Empires”), TV clips, performance footage (including Ozzfest 2000), and EPK clips, as well.
The beauty of Origins/Evolutions is that the ladies remain candid, and they never shy away from difficult topics. From discussing band member departures due to eating disorders to trouble with a particular producer, to being sixteen-year-olds recording their debut album to the tragic loss of their father and manager, Dave Lander, this feels like a more in-depth VH-1 Behind the Music due its professional and fair representation of Kittie’s career to date. Of course, there are also moments of light, as well, such as Morgan laughing that they wanted to name their debut album “Strap-on” to clips of the gals recording in their slippers to hanging out in a bathroom in England to trying to find a place to pee in Russia. They end in the present, discussing the dramatic changes to the music industry throughout the past two decades and questioning what that will mean for their own future. No one seems certain, but Trish offers up the promising ending: “It’s not over and we always come back for more!”
To complement the Documentary, there is a 12-track live CD that contains never-before-released recordings of the band’s full-throttle live performance. The track-list spans the band’s career, with songs from each of their albums represented in crisp, clear audio. Highlights of the collection include the incendiary “Spit,” brutal “Brackish,” dueling vocals of “What I Always Wanted,” more radio-friendly “Funeral For Yesterday,” growler-stomper “Never Again,” soaring “Sorrow I Know,” and the killer guitar-work of “Empires (Part 2).” For fans of vinyl, stay tuned: a 12″ record of the audio portion of the release is expected in the coming months.
Honest, sincere, and fully entertaining, Origins/Evolutions offers up a package that no Kittie fan can resist. With intense, personal background on the band’s storied past and a blunt discussion of their uncertain future, along with a truly killer live audio recording, this is one collection that delivers raw Heavy Metal at its finest and raises the middle finger to anyone who dares to doubt the abilities of women to shred! For these reasons, CrypticRock give Origins/Evolutions 5 of 5 stars.