Over the course of their ten-year career, Sleater-Kinney have released a string of brilliant albums, each offering a slightly different take on their signature sound. The trio -- Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein, and Janet Weiss -- specialize in interlocking patterns: guitars snaking in and out, anchored by powerful drums and juxtaposed with call-and-response vocal lines. But only a few moments of The Woods use familiar S-K strategies; instead, it's an aggressive, heavy, confrontational leap into new territory. Opener "The Fox" is a pounding, screaming catharsis that has more in common with S-K's grungy northwestern cousins, such as Mudhoney and Nirvana, than with their riot grrrl forebears, and "What's Mine Is Yours" and "Let's Call It Love" feature passages of improvisatory exploration. The latter is an 11-minute jam (and "jam" is not a word that could apply to anything else in S-K's catalog) in which the three women blast through the door of the boys' club of power trios like Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience. The Woods is a challenging album -- part of the thrill is hearing the band challenge itself -- but it also offers its share of what S-K fans love, including swinging, upbeat sing-alongs ("Modern Girl") and political anthems ("Wilderness"). With a new label (Sub Pop) and a new producer (Dave Fridmann, known for his work with the Flaming Lips and Mercury Rev), The Woods marks a new beginning for Sleater-Kinney, one that's surprising, breathtaking, and remarkable.