Child Bite – Blow Off the Omens (2019)

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Imagine that you had been going to 3 hour operas for the last few weeks and then you go to a hot, nasty 30 minute gig of honest, heavy rock. The operas were great and the talent of all involved was obvious, but, well, you know… The rock gig would be a welcome relief.

Hailing from Detroit, this is the 5th album from Child Bite. This album had 9 tracks, with a duration of 32 minutes… That seemed a bit short, given some of the cinematic, dramatic, opulent extravaganzas that I have heard recently. Which was a great thing!

“Mock Ecstasy” began the rapture with a spoken voice asking us if this is real life. I was immediately caught off guard. I was expecting chaotic thrash and I was met with an energetic, enthusiastic, accessible and heavy rock-like sound. The sound was pared back and it reminded me of the honest performance of live gigs and all that we love about them. The lyrics and vocals were a commentary, like Talking Heads, but with a significant metal injection. The sound of the guitar was slightly off kilter, but not in an annoying way – it added to the complexity.

“The Stimulus Gorge” had fabulous percussion as it’s underlying motivation and a bass line that was also significant. There were subtle shifts in tempo, providing a track which was different in character to the first one. It was like a left-right combo from a boxer. There were also two layers of vocals, with a confronting and a conversational one overlapping to provide depth. A heartbeat-like bass was used and the lyrics “that’s entertainment” added a good deal of social comment.

“Vexed Life” had me under its spell with Marilyn Manson-like vocals to open and a complex arrangement of guitars. This soon striped back to a groove. The whole track was complex in a way that shouldn’t work, bit it kicked arse. A lyric that I particularly liked was, “Nothing works here… I’ve been here for years.” The guitars often wove amongst the significant bass line and there was a killer riff at the end that reverberated cogently, further energising the track.

“They All Look Away” continued the angry vision and this will be an amazing live anthem. It was simple in nature, but had lots to say about how we are sometimes treated by others. Again, the structure was quite simple, with the elements repeated, but it worked excellently.

“Become An Animal” was a viscous and intricate beast, with the drums being a bombastic battery. It had as its theme the fine line between being reasonable and being an animal. A simple structure was again well executed, with a robust bass line lurking just beneath the surface. The end rang out significantly. These folks are the masters of atmosphere.

“The Wrong Ones Breed” gave birth to statements in line with the title. The guitars were faster, using more melody, but being far from pretty. This track was more complex, with many changes in sound. Again, it was disturbing, to match the subject matter. Even more confronting was the oddly endearing chorus.

“Persistence Award” was urgent and intense, anchored by stupendous bass, with the guitars dancing with it. Clever guitar work added atmosphere and the track didn’t let up.

“Disposable Hysteria” disposed with the openings that were used so far, opening instead with gothic references, using hymns and percussion that sounded like a march. The epic bass lines continued and the arrangement of the track was exceptional. The track thickened even further, sounding like hysteria. The track then became bass heavy and the guitars sounded dischordant. It was abundantly clever in design and engineering, with lots going on to match the theme of the track. It finished with wailing feedback.

“Blow Off the Omens” had at its heart a more traditional song structure, but it was no less profound. The rollicking riffs and blistering bass made this track a banger and a superb way to finish the album. It was a bit more mainstream in nature, but no less impassioned. A lyric that was chanted many times was, “We are the ones that accept or reject.” I reckon that this will resonate with many folks.

This was an eccentric, frenzied collection of defiant anthems. On the surface they appeared haphazard, but there was a divine madness in this work. Complex and confronting, delivered in an engaging manner, I was often singing along to the most in-your-face lyrics.

The tracks were short, which was refreshing. The style was a parade of well imaged influences – post-grunge, hardcore, nu-metal and rock. These were done with fidelity, but I got the feeling that they appeared because the band enjoyed playing that track that way, rather than being slaves to the style.

Shawn Knight’s vocals were angry and unrelenting. The lyrics caught me by surprise. Examples included, “It’s time for your hypnosis”, “I’m like you… breathing the same air as you… I used to be important some time ago…” and, “No wonder our brains drip out our well-serviced holes”. Crikey…

It was social commentary without political raving. Thank goodness. It was angry, but not angst driven. There were splashes of irony and lots of moments where the lyrics reflected the mood of the masses. Given all of that, it was easy to listen to and get lost in. Across the album similar sound was employed, but with different emphasis. It was a subtle assault on my soul.

This was an album that certainly blew off the omens of our current state of affairs. It also refreshed my musical palate. 30 minutes of honest, hot, nasty music. Hallelujah!

8/10

Greg Noble.

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