Every performer is a reflection of their influences. For some bands that influence comes from their cohorts, blending in with the current state of the scene. Others look further back, reflecting upon their roots. It’s far too easy to let those influences show and create an album that hides an artists’ true intent. Childe, upon first listening to his album Living or Dying, came across as potentially leaning too much on historical influences but is ultimately shown to be versatile and invigorating when compared to other bands.
It’s a bit difficult to figure out where Childe slot in. I didn’t want to immediately categorize the album as a punk recording but didn’t want to dismiss it as capitalizing on the currently popular fuzz sound. The best description I came up with is the lo-fi fuzz punk of Perfect Pussy with a post-hardcore mentality. I thoroughly enjoyed the mix of internal and external lyrical themes, evoking memories of Thursday and Leftover Crack that I haven’t felt in a very long time. The fierce, chaotic structure of Childe’s songs kept me on my toes until the 180-degree turn of the last song.
Childe displays a great level of musicianship that many acts lack. Every song brought a different guitar tone that harmonized well with the vocals while also standing out enough to bring attention to it. The individual components play together nicely for the most part; unfortunately they fall apart a few times, namely on “Men In Robes,” where the guitar and drums seem so out of sync that it becomes difficult to continue with the song. I attribute this to the album primarily being a one-man show, lacking the multiple inputs that other bands benefit from. I was able to look past the few rough spots as what occurs after them is great enough to prevent the errors from lingering too long.
One of my favorite things an artist can do with an album is completely change direction in a way that draws you in more. Childe makes one of these shifts, namely with the final track of the album (“Life Is Fear”) that shows they are more than a hardcode fuzz punk act. “Life Is Fear” shows a delicate side to Childe, featuring harmonies and musicianship not shown in their other songs. Childe’s decision to bookend the chaos of Living or Dying with a brief piano soliloquy and a fantastic acoustic jam demonstrates not only his talent but also his skill at crafting an album as a whole.
I enjoy albums that push me to consider things I hadn’t before. I want an album to challenge me, make me think, and leave me feeling slightly uncomfortable. Childe definitely hits all those points for me; by the time I reach the end of the album I feel as if I’ve been chewed up and spit out. Childe definitely hits these points for me. Every listen brought me to a different place as I considered each song. I always came away from the album wanting to hit play over and over. Living or Dying is one of those hidden gems that more people need to know about.
Padded Cell Records released Living or Dying in September 2014.