Review Summary: "We're lucky to have partners that support Child Abuse."
That quote from Child Abuse drummer Oran Canfield, who has been a crucial part of the band since its birth in 2004, represents a lot of the band's image. In a 2014 press photo, two out of the three band members are pictured with their actual children. Neither of their album covers, this 2007 self-titled or 2014's Trouble In Paradise, are absurd or grotesque or anything of the sort. The partners of the band members understand that nothing about them and their arresting name is a signification of real harm. If anything, the name 'Child Abuse' demonstrates abuse that comes from a child, rather than being inflicted upon one.
I say this because the music is extremely unorganized, shambolic, messy. These descriptors are so extreme that anyone would have a hard time even pinning down a definitive genre. Noise rock elements are definitely present here, but there's no guitar. Just drums, bass, and a keyboard/vocalist. Tempos and time signatures change so sporadically, and often just as suddenly, that one might be compelled to call it some form of jazz. The thoroughly distorted bass guitar, the synthesizer that shakes so violently, they bring the album one step closer to a grindcore label. That can't be right either, though, because the vocals don't line up with anything in the metal genre. Luke Calzonetti does not shriek like the typical metal vocalist. He's yelling down a hallway, in some cases stuttering profusely to the point where I cannot make out a single damn word across all 25-or-so minutes of music here.
None of those previous words do a spectacular job of explaining how the music is interpreted, and after repeated listens, I have come to the conclusion that they aren't supposed to. Some song titles (I Hate Me
, Wrong Hole
, Penal Jihad
to name a few) are meant to be appalling, occasionally disgusting, just like the music. That band name, that album cover, they're not necessarily making the observer look away and vomit, but they grab the attetnion of passers-by in a way not entirely positive. Unfortunately, that's the same for the music. From the very first blastbeats of Wrong Hole
, it's hard to deny how easily the band can seize the listener so quickly. That feeling lasts for the whole album, too. Beyond that, however, there isn't much substance to be found. On the relatively calmer cuts, like Supplicant
, Child Abuse sound closer to complete improvisation than a genuine, crafted piece of work.
Calzonetti once said that his lyrics for the songs are occasionally made up on the spot, and that's not because he can think of complex rhyme schemes so effeciently. It is because he is making noise
with his mouth, diarrhea spewing from it in such a hurry that no one can understand it. The same goes for the drummer and the bass player; nobody is able to find a deeper meaning in the technical performing because there wasn't any in the first place. Child Abuse reminds me a little bit of Pharmakon
and her noise pieces, because they come across as shallow once the listener has digested all the material once or twice. The band places emphasis on shock value more than anything else. Of course I still enjoy listening to it, but it is all surface appeal. Having some depth to the orchestration would only enhance the listener's experience, and yet there is none, so part of me wonders why I even like it.