REVIEW: COMEBACK KID – “Outsider”
Over the course of the 21st century, Canadian hardcore punks Comeback Kid have come to be known as one of the most vibrant and important bands to emerge from their country in terms of that style of rock music, alongside Alexisonfire, Billy Talent, Cancer Bats, Silverstein and various others. In 2017, however, Comeback Kid is scheduled to release their sixth full-length studio album ‘Outsider’ and to be distributed by Nuclear Blast globally and New Demage in Canada.
The title track “Outsider” kicks off the album with flying colors, as it hits the listener with an accurately targeted slab of hardcore that, while still musically aggressive, has plenty of bounce in its execution to the point that it is still the sort of song that a casual listener of hardcore would be able to enjoy as much as someone who is a keen fan of Comeback Kid’s back catalogue and history. “Surrender Control” immediately comes up next, and already I am flawed by the perfect blending of ‘melodic’ vocal lines in the choruses, alongside the shouting in your face anger of Andrew Neufeld on the verses. There is also a brilliant section about two thirds of the way through where the pace of the instrumental really picks up and incorporates what could be considered as almost thrash metal influenced percussion and guitar work. This track has already been online since the beginning of August, so if you’re keyed up on this band already chances are you will have checked it out by now.
“Absolute” is the record’s third song, and features a cameo of none other than Devin Townsend of Devin Townsend Project and Strapping Young Lad fame. Like I said with “Surrender Control” and the thrash metal vibes you get with it, this song begins in the exact same light before the double bass really comes into its own. Neufeld’s vocals are again one of the best things about this band’s music, and you’d find it incredibly difficult not to notice the nihilism and level of livid ferocity in his voice as he barks his lyrics at you.
“Hell of a Scene”, “Somewhere, Somehow”, and “Consumed the Vision” bring you further and further down into the duration of the album – with the second of the three tracks having already been released online and the third featuring Chris Cresswell, frontman of the Canadian punk rock band The Flatliners. There are some very interesting musical mechanics being put to work here, featuring everything from a hybrid of what sounds like the embracing of early-2000s pop-punk and vicious 80s hardcore in the same song, as well as thrash-influenced guitar chugging on some of the other tracks. Hardcore can often be quite a narrow-path to go down in terms of musical and instrumental experimentation so it is incredibly relieving to see that Comeback Kid are one of the many modern bands stretching themselves to deliver something innovative and not the same old same old that we’ve heard before.
At this point we’re at the album’s halfway point, and so far so good in terms of what has been heard already. By this point it becomes clear that each of the record’s 13 songs maintains a similar sort of vibe that is often reluctant to stray outside of traditional contemporary hardcore conventions, so it would be nice as a listener to hear the end results of this sometimes. With that in mind, the songs that are found as you carry on listening (namely “I’ll Be That”, “Blindspot”, and more) are just as enjoyable as anything else you’ve heard so far on Comeback Kid’s new album.
There are only a handful of songs remaining at this point. The first of those three is entitled “Recover” – a track that speeds along at a relatively consistent pace with some of the most meaningful lyrics to be heard on the album thus far. “Throw That Stone” follows directly afterwards, with the angriest vocal to be heard from frontman Andrew Neufeld throughout the entire album and a breakdown into instantly catchy riffs that are designed to make you bop your head up and down in time with the music. The album’s closer “Moment in Time” features Northcote, and opens with a much more mellower whispered section before exploding back into its familiar musical momentum.
In conclusion, Comeback Kid’s new album ‘Outsider’ sits comfortably as a welcome addition to their gradually growing discography of work, and will be a record that established fans should enjoy right from the get-go. If you have any sort of interest in aggressive punk, whether that is the snottier side of pop-punk or visceral hardcore bands, then you should find plenty about this album that will tickle your punk rock pickle.