Child Bite - Burnt Offerings (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Child Bite

Burnt Offerings (2018)

Housecore Records

I’ve become a pretty big Child Bite fan over the years. It definitely started with the Detroit quartet’s berserk live show. Getting into the band’s records took a little longer, but I eventually came around to those too. I ultimately concluded that the band was best when digested in short, half hour chunks. Burnt Offerings: Covers and Rarities 2010-2017 definitely challenges that assertion. It’s a 28 song, 95 minute collection spread over two discs. The first disc is pretty much an entire unreleased LP. The second is all covers, many of which were originally small quantity, vinyl only releases.

The first disc could pass for a proper LP. The songs were recorded at different times and places, but you wouldn’t really know it. It doesn’t feel disjointed, probably because every individual song feels disjointed.That disjointedness is a big part of what makes Child Bite so compelling. Their sound is a hard to pin down combination of metal, punk, noise and general weirdness. The music is somewhere between later era Black Flag and maybe, I don’t know, Jesus Lizard or something. Frontman Shawn Knight barks out the sometimes absurd lyrics like Charles Manson with rabies. Disc 1 highlights include opener “The Will to Disappear”, “Sick & Subhuman”, “Abstract Interior Putrefaction”, “Feeding Tube Blues” and closer “Jerk Off Your Life”. I’m not smelling any top 40 hits, but every song is memorable in one way or another. If Burnt Offerings ended here, it would be a good album.

The second disc is basically a bonus, and it has an undeniable playfulness. It starts out with a handful of songs from a seven inch series called American Hardcore. It was a collection of Detroit bands covering classic punk and hardcore songs. (I should have bought those 7”s when I had a chance, now they’re long gone.) Child Bite tackles “My War” by Black Flag, “Police Truck” by Dead Kennedys, “Earth AD” by the Misfits, “I Against I/Jam” by Bad Brains and “Guilty of Being White/It Follows” by Minor Threat. Knight’s warble is well suited to these old songs, and the slightly deconstructed music works too.

The strangest cover has to be the ska song “Hey” by fellow Detroiters Suicide Machines. It’s damn near optimistic sounding. Songs by Unsane and Samhain are much closer to the band’s natural aesthetic. (“Unbridled” is from the excellent Samhain tribute, We All Want Our Time In Hell, that I reviewed here previously.) The last six tracks all feature Housecore head honcho and former Pantera singer Phil Anselmo on lead vocals. A Celtic Frost tune wraps things up, but before that we get five classics from A.C. (That’s right kids, your parents’ favorite X-rated grindcore band, Anal Cunt.) They are uneasy listening at its very best.

Burnt Offerings would be a fine entry point for anyone looking to check out Child Bite. The familiarity of the cover tunes might help to ease you into their weird world. It’s challenging but ultimately rewarding racket. It has significant artistic merit, but still manages to be hostile as hell. Recommended for adventurous fans of metal, punk and general weirdness.