For what started as a side-project, Comeback Kid have certainly had an extensive career, releasing their sixth full-length Outsider in 2017, almost two decades after they formed. Those familiar with Comeback Kid will find Outsider instantly accessible, building on their base of hardcore skate-punk with whatever elements happen to augment the ever-present hooks.
The title track kicks things off with a driving beat and a galloping riff building to a shout-along verse and fist-pumping chorus with traces of thrash metal. The end result is somewhere along the lines of Revolutions-Per-Minute era Rise Against. “Surrender Control” hits hard with a chugging metal-soaked verse and a huge gang-vocal chorus that sounds like a heavier take on Jimmy Eat World’s classic “Pain”. The ‘breakdown’ is worth a double-take, as it actually picks up the speed even more. “Absolute” features a nasty hardcore thrash riff to accompany Andrew Neufeld‘s caustic shouts. Bassist Ron Friesen conjures up some sludge to match, although the guest spot from Devin Townsend is a little underwhelming.
“Hell Of A Scene” is an instant standout, alternating rapidly between breakneck old-school hardcore and one of the catchiest choruses of the year. It’s less than two minutes long, but it packs more into that brief span than most songs twice its length. “Somewhere, Somehow” takes a couple listens to catch on, but after a few listens it becomes the focal point of the album, blending breakneck metal and punk through the verses with a huge arena-rock chorus, and a no-frills breakdown to keep the old-school fans on board. Neufeld’s raspy sing-scream should hit a sweet spot for fans of mid-2000s Warped Tour screamo, especially bands like Story Of The Year or The Used. “Consumed The Vision” keeps things going strong. The riff is easily the most pop-punk think on the album, and pairing it with some of Neufeld’s grittiest ‘clean’ vocals is a great choice, lending extra edge to what could have been a “soft” song. “I’ll Be That” is a nod to fans of old-school east coast hardcore, with a metal-tinged riff and the meanest vocals on the album. This song should be played live at every opportunity: there is no way it doesn’t inspire some excessively violent moshing.
“Outrage (Fresh Face, Stale Cause)”, “Blindspot”, and “Livid, I’m Prime” are a trio of fast and furious hardcore punk songs, the latter two clocking in under two minutes and the former barely over. “Outrage” is OK but not up to the quality of what comes before it, and “Blindspot” is fun but does neither the galloping rage or melodic chorus as well as “Hell Of A Scene”. Of the three, “Livid” is the best, with a breathless ferocity that catches the listener’s attention. “Recover” stumbles again, one of the only songs on the album with no real hook to speak of. “Throw That Stone” is a punk-metal explosion that may not have a melodic hook, but the unhinged screams are enough to propel the track through a pummeling 2-minute runtime. Closing track “Moment In Time” almost gels into another highlight, with some impressive verses, but the chorus falls flat in comparison.
Comeback Kid have always toyed with the limits of the hardcore genre, which makes the title of Outsider all the more fitting, a winking acceptance of their eclectic influences. More so than ever before, they weave together bursts of sheer aggression, hooky melodies, and meathead metal riffs into a cohesive whole that has fun, a word too few hardcore bands are familiar with. Like most albums, it’s a little bit front-loaded, but almost every song on this album connects in one way or another, and should absolutely devastate live.