Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Album Review: Outsider by Comeback Kid (by Robyn Pierce)

Longtime Canadian hardcore band Comeback Kid recently released a new full-length album entitled Outsider, out on Nuclear Blast. I’m always stoked about new music from Comeback Kid, who are definitely one of best hardcore bands in the scene, but I was particularly interested in this record after hearing the singles the guys released and seeing some of the guest vocalists the band collaborated with on Outsider (Chris Cresswell on a Comeback Kid record? Whaa?! It’s like they’re trying to make a point about how many great musicians come from Canada). Comeback Kid are also my go-to band when I’m struggling to feel motivated and need a bit of a push, so I was really counting on Outsider to give me the energy fix I need at this time of year.

And, it delivered. Outsider is heavy in all the right ways, delivering vibrant riffs and often veering into the realm of metal. This is perhaps best encapsulated in the track entitled ‘Absolute’, which includes a guest appearance from legendary metal vocalist Devin Townsend (who is, of course, another amazing Canadian). Townsend’s vocals really fill out the sound in ‘Absolute’, giving the song an operatic quality as it builds to a crescendo and ends with an awesome breakdown. ‘Absolute’ was one of the singles pre-released off of Outsider, together with ‘Somewhere, Somehow’ and ‘Surrender Control’. ‘Somewhere, Somehow’ really showcases Comeback Kid at their best, tempering fast and aggressive verses with a soaring, anthemic chorus. ‘Surrender Control’ is also quite anthemic, with a chorus that promises to have crowds all over the world singing along, but it’s much more bass-driven and deliciously heavy. I looped these three tracks more than a few times leading up to the album release, and they definitely measure up to Comeback Kid’s previous singles and best-loved tracks.

With the full release came ten more new songs. Much like the title track off of Die Knowing, which also leads off that album, ‘Outsider’ opens the record with a long intro and introduces the theme of the outcast whose power lies in challenging the status quo. ‘Hell of a Scene’ is an unexpected track that marries together an aggressive, ultra-fast verse and a highly melodic chorus that reminds me ever so slightly of Sum 41 (and no, it’s not just because they’re Canadian – although, maybe?). It’s jarring and fun, and could wreak untold havoc at shows. This song gives way to ‘Consumed the Vision’, which features Chris Cresswell (from The Flatliners) and is therefore, perhaps unsurprisingly, a more straightforward punk track (although, it doesn’t escape the metal influence altogether). I don’t think there is any possible manifestation of Chris Cresswell’s vocals that I could ever dislike, but man – I really enjoy the overlaying and blending of vocals on this track. Like the addition of Townsend on ‘Absolute’, it adds great flavour and dimension to the sound. ‘I’ll Be That’ is a headbanger with some tight palm muting, while ‘Outrage’ and ‘Blindspot’ are two of the faster songs on the album with fantastic drumming at breakneck speed.

In between the old-school, hardcore aggression of ‘Livid, I’m Prime’ and ‘Throw That Stone’ is one of my favourite tracks off of Outsider, entitled ‘Recover’. This song steps away from the metal elements on the rest of the album and delivers a rousing melody with similarly stirring lyrics: “I’m not slipping away, I’ll recover”. In a video in which the band discuss Outsider, Neufield says that ‘Recover’ came out of an attempt to return to an earlier sound and to write a song like ‘Wake the Dead’. I think the band is successful in writing a song that is as enjoyable as this fan favourite. Outsider finishes up with ‘Moment in Time’ featuring Northcote (yes, you guessed it, another great Canadian musician). Northcote’s input is most apparent at the beginning of the song, which begins as a somber folk punk tune before exploding with frantic energy. In fact, the speed and intensity of the rest of the song almost seems to be a response to its grim beginning. This is fitting in a song about making the most of the precious time you have with your loved ones. ‘Moment in Time’ caps off the album beautifully with a track that’s really different to anything I’ve heard from Comeback Kid before.

What I really like about ‘Outsider’ is the diversity of tracks that it offers, each developing a different facet of Comeback Kid’s sound but all of them administering the power and energy that you’d expect from these hardcore heavyweights. Chances are, even if you don’t love every song off this album, there’ll be a few tracks that you really enjoy. Outsider also testifies to the musical talent coming out of Canada and makes really fantastic use of guest vocals (seriously, if you are reading this Comeback Kid: just keep collaborating with other awesome Canadian musicians. It’s working. You have made me so happy.) Outsider is a great addition to Comeback Kid’s growing catalogue of music, and has definitely satisfied my need for some quality hardcore punk to help me push through the last few months of the year.

Stream and download Outsider here:

Like Comeback Kid here:

This review was written by Robyn Pierce.

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