Canadian hardcore giants Comeback Kid are a band who at this point are veterans of the genre. After a career spanning 17 years, the band prides themselves on a faultless discography that encompasses every facet of the elements of great hardcore music: energy, passion, melody and aggression. The first two LPs ‘Turn It Around’ and ‘Wake The Dead’ cemented the band as a force within the genre through their punk-propelled energy. With the departure of front-man Scott Wade in 2006, guitarist Andrew Neufeld stepped up to the plate to form their future with the next three expansive records ‘Broadcasting’, ‘Symptoms + Cures’ and ‘Die Knowing’. It is fitting then that their fresh sixth studio LP is named ‘Outsider’ as this record is a culmination of the band clasping on to their heavy metallic roots whilst embracing their sonic evolution, making them far more than a hardcore cliché. In a genre which can be seen as tight nit in its conventions, Neufeld explains in their press release their attitude approaching the song writing of the record – “We Don’t want to be limited in any sense, and prefer to work on our own terms”. Playing to the bands strengths, the passion of hardcore music largely translates in a live environment, and the band come across self-aware in their method – “This time around, we were really focused on songs that we knew would connect from the stage”.
The opening title track ‘Outsider’ is a great example of this live energy and a serious statement of intent that is certain to get the blood flowing of both packed out sweaty venues, or casual listeners as the riffs of Jeremy Hiebert and Stu Ross bite over the punchy bounce of Loren Lagare’s drum beats in similar fashion to previous openers such as ‘Do Yourself A Favour’. The guitar tone here is as gritty as ever, staying true to their origins but it is noticeable that they have embraced new production techniques throughout the process, making it very easy to appreciate every element of instrumentation across the record. Speaking with Theupsidenews.com – Andrew stated “In the past Comeback Kid has recorded with two or three members playing everything on the album; this time around everybody played on the album and we tried to be a little more obvious with our themes”. Second track and recent single ‘Surrender Control’ boasts ferocious riffs, filthy bass lines from Ron Friesen and contains of the bands’ biggest choruses of their career – “control, lesser than better men, let go, I won’t let it bother me”.
‘Absolute’ moves into more familiar territory of hardcore with staples such as call-and-response gang vocals being at the forefront over a metallic chugged riff that moves up and down in semi-tones creating a menacing effect. Being no stranger to collaborations but yet a surprising addition to the track is the feature of Devin Townsend; the two vocal performances work seamlessly together in a sludgy and demonic ending to the track. ‘Hell of a Scene’ is perhaps the bands most unique effort of their career so far as they combine blast beats in thrashy verses with an infectious pop rock chorus instantaneously ; and the result is something wholly ridiculous yet fun to listen to. On the topic of fun, this is a consistent theme throughout the album as ‘Consumed The Vision’ (feat. Chris Cresswell) is a hard rock anthem so catchy and joyous; it feels like the soundtrack to the summer’s biggest pool party despite its subject matter, fittingly as Andrew yells “there’s a sentiment in the atmosphere”. Recent single ‘Somewhere, Somehow’ entails such brilliant energy, it is impossible not to get sucked in to its enthusiastic nature, simple vocal harmonies and guitar leads over its chord progression throughout the chorus.
Neufeld’s voice is as commanding as ever whilst also moving into more melodic territory throughout this album. The technique of blending screamed vocals to a tune and in variating aggression has been perfected to fit the mood flawlessly to the pace and mood of each moment; in particular ‘Blindspot’ and ‘Recover’ showcase his ear for melody that have influenced younger contemporaries such as Gnarwolves and While She Sleeps and will make you want to sing at the top of your lungs. Topically on ‘Outraged’ Andrew barks “I’m outraged by excuses” and tells us to “be aware” in a blunt fashion that tackles the plight of innovative thinkers in a world consumed by distractions, whilst he also wrestles with personal relationships and guidance on the ferocious yet solemn closing track ‘A Moment in Time’ (feat. Northcote).
This album is filled with new innovations and some of the bands biggest moments and boldest production; but in the end, these songs will live vastly in the live environment, as the band continue to be long time road warriors, conquering new corners of the earth. This is yet another solid entry to the bands faultless career and serves further proof of them being one of the world’s finest hardcore bands. ‘Outsider’ is September 8th on Nuclear Blast Records.
Comeback Kid expand their horizons whilst refining their signature hardcore stamp.