Ever since dropping the beast of a single that is ‘Absolute’, signing to Nuclear Blast Records and announcing that they would be co-headlining the biggest modern hardcore tour of the year, Winnipeg’s Comeback Kid have been the talk of not just the hardcore scene, but a prominent topic in more extended alternative music circles. With this consideration, many were left wondering if their upcoming album would be worthy of the hype whipped up. Enter Outsider; the group’s most varied, mature and experimental album to date.
Whilst fully established as a figurehead of the modern hardcore scene, Comeback Kid aren’t a band that are afraid of straying from the path of conventional hardcore structure and elements. From the solid, metal tinged riffs of 2014’s Die Knowing to the towering, cleaner chorus’s of 2005’s Wake The Dead, the group have always incorporated elements from differing genres into their work, often subtly and rather slyly.
However, Outsider see’s the group proudly thrusting these aforementioned elements into the foreground. This record, clocking in at just over 35 minutes, is more deeper, layered and focused than it’s predecessors, with a strong, concise focus on harmonic hooks, melodies, perfectly crafted riffs and interchanging vocals. It still radiates the hardcore orientated ethos the group prizes, but elevates them above the more hardcore by numbers presented by some of their peers within the scene.
Outsider sees Comeback Kid at their most focused; there’s absolutely no filler present here and each one of these 13 tracks contain its own vibe, tone and personality. Tracks such as ‘Somewhere, Somehow’, ‘Hell Of A Scene’ and ‘Recover’ fully present the more melodic edge to this record, with these tracks containing massive, soaring chorus' and dynamically shifting vocals not typically seen in conventional and stereotypical hardcore. Yet, they all contain the typical hardcore punk conventions and elements required. Whilst the thought of a more melodic tone may rebuff older fans and deter newcomers seeking heavier pastures, this edge doesn’t dilute their primarily hardcore founded foundations or respective ethos. This more melodic tone only adds additional layers to the final result and compliments the clearly evident hardcore punk undertones. And believe me, when the album reigns it in for heavier moments, it does it flawlessly and without conviction.
Tracks such as ‘Outrage’ and the raging ‘Throw That Stone’ are the more conventionally hardcore tracks on this release, with Andrew Neufeild’s distinctively primal, snarling and rasping vocals being the most prominent and driving element within these tracks. Yet, these times on these records where group delve into more heavier, thrash metal tinged waters. The aforementioned ‘Absolute’ see’s the group attempt a more sludgier overtone to their hardcore structure and ‘I’ll Do That’ dives straight into thrash and metalcore metal territory, with a song structure that wouldn’t go amiss on a mid noughties Slayer release. Despite this, there’s distinctively hardcore undertones to these tracks; without a doubt, it’s all clearly Comeback Kid.
In true fashion of the genre, there’s also the occasional guest spot on the mic. Yet, rather than a stereotypical hardcore vocalist spitting out the same vocal delivery as the band’s lead, the album features vocals from individuals not typically associated with the hardcore scene. This includes Canadian folk singer-songwriter Northcote on the album’s closer, ‘Moment In Time’ and even the prog-metal darling Devin Townsend on ‘Absolute’. It’s these unprecedented curveballs that make this album unique, engaging and just fantastic.
To conclude, Outsider marks an interesting new chapter for Comeback Kid. It’s an album that brings elements that the band have been flirting with for years into the spotlight but bends them masterfully to fit their classic established sound. Even though it’s been well over a decade since their debut, Comeback Kid clearly show no sign of slowing down and are still an innovative driving force within the worldwide hardcore scene.