Child Bite - Fantastic Gusts of Blood (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

Child Bite

Fantastic Gusts of Blood (2008)

Suburban Sprawl

You could argue that as much as a group of people will uphold their own artistic vision, as soon as there is knowledge that an audience exists to experience it, that vision is altered to whatever degree. Certain forms of music such as jazz and punk seem to naturally rebel against this notion but few bands truly achieve this. Child Bite is a rare breed that really sound like they are playing for themselves and as listeners we just happened to stumble upon their raucous jam session. Maybe it helps that there are elements of both punk and jazz in their sound, in which they never really give into listener expectation on where their songs will go.

The whiny synth lines and heavy bass of opener "Venom Bowl, Kids Guts" will be familiar to anyone that has heard the band before. Yet, there is a noticeable difference between their last EP and this album. Previously, some of the synth effects and electronic bits could be jarring and abrupt, but now the band integrates organic and simulated instrumentation much more fully. For example, "Never Ending Mountain Slammer" finds the synth parts sounding like a warning alarm with the horn section coming in slightly lower in the mix for a call-and-response effect or the uncharacteristically melodic guitar leads in "White Bull from the Sea." While their different elements tend to gel together a lot more naturally this time around, they never really stop taking songs into unexpected places.

Shawn Knight's yelps are still ever-present, aiding the sense of spontaneity along with that feeling of teetering on the edge of something. I'm still not sure what he is singing about but the band knows how to add just the right accents, such as the layering in "White Bull from the Sea" and gang vocals in the chorus of "100 Eyes." What is the band actually saying? Your guess is as good as mine. While their most obvious influence in Nation of Ulysses tackled a revolutionary ethic, Child Bite seems a little more concerned with being plain weird. Whether or not this detracts from the overall listening experience will remain purely a matter of taste because whatever they are saying the lyrics fit the music superbly.

Child Bite sounds tighter together overall, with a more hook-filled focused album but I can't say there is anything quite as catchy as the best stuff from their last effort, Gold Thriller. This is still a really fun and interesting record that shows the band still progressing, though it still lacks that really standout song that would make it resonate just that much more. Still, if you like rhythm-driven post-punk with an edge this is a very solid release.