Katastrophy Wife – Heart On EP

Katastrophy Wife
Heart On EP

Kat B’jelland certainly needs no introduction to anyone who tuned into college radio in the early 1990s. Lead screamer of influential ‘swamp-blues’ rockers Babes In Toyland, Kat channeled all her ferocious rage and vocal power into some primal, electrifying tunes filled with vivid imagery, and she has continued to do that, during and after the break up of Babes In Toyland, with the band Crunt, the Witchblade soundtrack, and her current band Katastrophy Wife (“Kat as trophy wife” – get it?).

Kat has released two albums as Katastrophy Wife, but has dealt with some ups and downs in her life that had her MIA musically for the past few years. Now she’s baaack and kickin’ it hard with the recent Heart On EP, and is working away at her next full-length, titled Pregnant.

The two main tunes on this EP are “Heart On” and a cover of Iron Maiden’s classic, “Run To The Hills”. Kat unleashes hell, as always, furiously ripping through the rough-cut rhythm of “Heart On”, with its lean sound of hard-hit drums and jagged to dirty guitar lines. Her vocals are in the foreground and slightly manipulated, as if sung (well, shouted) through a megaphone, and the music takes a back seat to her emotions. The song has a spare, but hard rock feel, as Kat comes on all belligerent, sounding like prime Katastrophy Wife near the end of the track, delivering her rip-roaring, underworld screams with a “grain-of-gravel” to her vocals, all bellowing and sharp and pissed off.

“Run To The Hills” is a pretty faithful rendition of Iron Maiden’s tune, as Kat sing-talks her distorted vocals, all wide-eyed and exclaiming from the start, growling in a lower register on the wordy verses against high-pitched guitars and solid drumming. The payoff is in the chorus, with the galloping-wild drum beat and Kat exasperatedly grinding the vocals out, sounding like she’s on the verge of collapse (and apparently, while she was recording this song after a hiatus from singing, she did manage to have her diaphragm muscles give out!). The guitars go to a blistering level, augmented by some interesting electronic bleeps and those fast-beating drums, as Kat pushes it to the limit, and at the very end her vocals rise to high-register, wordless shrieking.