Hardcore for the Hard Rock Fan
The Canadian hardcore punk band, Comeback Kid, is back with Outsider, their first release since leaving Victory Records. The group has gone through plenty of lineup changes during their tenure in the hardcore punk scene, but their quality has always been consistent between releases. The band’s first release since 2014 is, as the title hints, at times an outsider to the band’s previous releases.
Outsider starts with the title track, “Outsider.” Immediately, the song has an opening riff with incredible drum work from Loren Legare. The gang vocals in the chorus are almost arena metal in their execution, yet the instrumentation sticks to the band’s hardcore roots that linger along the border of post hardcore. The band goes more arena rock with second track “Surrender Control.” Although the lead singer Andrew Neufeld has an incredible hardcore howl that follows his verses, the chorus has this early 2000s hard rock vibe in the group vocals that are highly produced.
“Absolute” features Devin Townsend, formerly of Strapping Young Lad. The track has an interesting riff that changes its key midway, before returning to the original riff. The breakdown of this track is impressive. The echo, when Neufeld yells “burn it all down,” is infectious as the drums play a typical breakdown structure.
“Hell of a Scene” is a hybrid hardcore and pop punk track. Considering this, it somehow fits well and is one of the catchier tracks on Outsider. It is the pop-ier outlier that many hardcore bands often incorporate, for example, Turnstile’s “Blue By You.” “Consumed the Vision” has consistent group vocals and the song almost sounds like Rise Against at times, and Poison at other times. It’s unintentionally glam-y. Chris Cresswell of the Flatliners is also featured on this track.
“Blindspot” and “Livid, I’m Prime” take two short tracks into quick hardcore punk action. “Livid, I’m Prime” specifically takes the fast paced drumming and great screaming from Neufeld that makes Comeback Kid noticeable. There is a mumbling style of talking towards the end of the song that leads up to the ending where the song builds up to a satisfying conclusion.
Towards the end of the record, a lot of these tracks start to blend together. “Recover” sounds almost like the Wonder Years in its pop-y gang vocals and drum beats. The best tracks are the ones with the shouting style that comes out in “Throw That Stone.” It is the typical hardcore genre that resembles more of Code Orange than it does to the early 2000s hard rock sound. The middle of this song changes directions with a bridge that has an entirely unique guitar riff with the screaming that is successful on Outsider. The album closes with “Moment in Time” which in the beginning has vocals from Northcote that resemble Nebraska-era Bruce Springsteen. This track does have all the qualities that are enjoyable in Outsider, as well as the aspects that come off more awkward.
Overall, Outsider has shining moments when the group resembles the hardcore genre, but when they stray they lose the listener to a more universal sound that is not what makes Comeback Kid great. The direction they lean in on Outsider is one many fans of the band will be surprised at.