Heavy metal has a dark and ominous history, one plagued by rumors of demonic possession, child murder and back-masking. In the world of extreme metal, bands have embraced the stigma by now venturing further into the blackness, playing faster, more offensive metal than ever before. Some of these bands take themselves very seriously, blazing a path of destruction across Europe and into the States, burning churches, killing each other and even themselves.
On the other hand, there have been intentionally offensive bands that imbue their metal with levity. I mean, who isn’t a fan of The Mentors, GWAR, Dead Serios, Gardy Loo & The Impotent Sea Snakes? We all are, right? But those bands, great as they may have been, are sort of, you know, comedy-ish, donning costumes, penning absurd lyrics and engaging in humorous if wholly imbecilic acts on stage.
What’s been missing from the metal scene is a thoughtful extreme metal band that writes quality songs with meticulous attention paid to performance. Jacksonville’s own very serious grindcore band Cute & Cuddly Kittens is about to become that selfsame band: a band committed to making earnest, offensive metal for the discerning listener.
Case in point: Tales from the Litterbox, released this year on Feline Grind Records. I must emphasize before continuing with this review that C&CK is a profound, deep-thinking group of musicians who are offensive in the most artistic and sincere way. I mean, if they were trying to be funny, they’d have titled their the album TAILS from the Litterbox.
Am I wrong? I am not wrong.
(Of special note, and in recognition of their poetic leanings: The titles of each song are written in all lowercase, a fitting tribute to their inspiration, e.e. cummings, to be sure.)
The 14-song CD opens with “everything about me keeps getting fatter except for my dick,” an introspective look at approaching middle age. I think. I can’t be sure because I can’t understand a thing anyone is saying. Or growling, or screaming or choking. But as I approach my 50s, this song touched me in a way that I am too embarrassed to mention in print.
Track 3, “i make my girlfriend eat anchovies so I can tell which hole the farts are coming from” is a similarly moving song about one of the most challenging aspects of a maturing relationship: FOL (flatulence origin location). Let’s be honest. We’ve all dealt with it. It isn’t pretty, but it’s an essential building block just the same.
Track 6, meanwhile, is a brutal mosh-inducing epic about getting high and inserting one’s penis into various, um, things and stuff. The subtle way the band opens the conversation about substance abuse among teenagers is especially heartwarming. Any hormone-laden teen male will relate to the narrative, which involves pig oinks, grunts and gurgles.
The band does lighten things up a bit with the obvious parody “harry butthole & the chamber of secrets,” but the humor stops there. Songs like “we are the cute & cuddly kittens” are rich and inspiring trips into our collective psyche, plumbing the depths of the human experience like few others before them. The band even covers other very serious artists, including The Dwarves and S.O.D.
If you are tired of being jerked around by empty bands, and you want to go headfirst into the abyss of serious, thought-provoking metal, let Cute & Cuddly Kittens take you there. It’s no joke.