What strikes you first about Child Bite is that this noise/hardcore band has so much charisma to spare. The band is magnetic in front of a microphone, and, in spite of a multitude of lineup changes, the core of vocalist Shawn Knight and bassist Sean Clancy has been unrelenting over its career spanning more than a dozen EPs and albums. Such is a feat for any band, and its return to Housecore Records (which issued 2016’s Negative Noise and several EPs) may give you a sense of how Child Bite has maintained that spark over time as is offered here on Burnt Offerings: Covers And Rarities 2010-2017.
That Housecore reunion comes in the form of Burnt Offerings: Covers And Rarities 2010 – 2017, a massive package of unreleased songs, covers and tracks recorded with ex-Pantera/Down/Superjoint frontman Phil Anselmo, with whom Child Bite released the 2014 EP Morbid Hits. The result is a bold, dark wall of apocalyptic fun.
The remakes will likely grab the lion’s share of attention initially. Child Bite does a variety of stellar punk covers, including songs by Bad Brains (“I Against I”), Minor Threat (“Guilty of Being White”) and the Dead Kennedys (“Police Truck”). A few fans may especially like the Dead Kennedys song, as the Child Bite delivery has at times earned favorable comparisons to Jello Biafra and company over the years. Other standouts include Child Bite’s gloriously exacting renditions of Unsane’s “Don’t” and Black Flag’s “My War.” It’s plain as day these guys love some classic punk and do resolute versions in their own voices without eliding the essence of the originals. Even if this isn’t music you were into before, Child Bite could well make you don a Suicide Machines t-shirt.
The unreleased Child Bite songs are a passel of fascinating snapshots of the group. Composed of songs from vinyl-only split EPs Child Bite appeared on, outtakes from the Negative Noise sessions and other places, they traipse the musical galaxy. “Gang Omega” opens with a warble before exploding into a swarm of guitars and rhythm. “Prowl” doggedly comes for you after its warm introductory chords. Later, songs such as “Abstract Interior Putrefaction” and “Stroke The Negative” capture the band in a tightly wound mode. It’s noted Child Bite was parting with its drummer some five years back when many of these recordings were done. Whether that spilled into tension isn’t readily evident, though.
Anselmo acolytes will indubitably want to know how the mercurial singer sounds in these Burnt Offerings collaborations. Good news: that force of nature now recording as Philip H. Anselmo flourishes with these partners in crime. Across six tracks – five covers of the notorious grindcore group Anal Cunt and one song by Celtic Frost – the chemistry here is palatable. It may not do much to dissuade Anselmo critics, though; Anal Cunt was long reviled in some quarters as a provocateur for lyrics glorifying Nazism, misogyny and racism, while Anselmo himself has long sparred with similar charges. However, the sonically curious may walk away satisfied that these performers turn in a jaw dropping series together.
At 28 songs – 14 covers and 14 originals – Child Bite’s latest might have benefitted from tighter selection. Yet, for fans, this may be one of the most engrossing looks at the Detroit heavy hitters to date.