Review || Comeback Kid - "Outsider"

Comeback Kid is one of those bands that don't have a staple sound in every album but, if you listen to a song, you can immediately recognize the composers. Maybe it's because of Andrew Neufeld's distinctive vocals; maybe it's their musicianship which bends and at times challenges the strict confines of hardcore while remaining true to their roots and exploiting their various influences (oddly enough, CBK has to be a rare case where devoted hardcore fans never actually questioned whether or not they fit the "hardcore mold"). Anyway.

"Outsider" opens the record with a high-spirited rhythm. As the song progresses, it becomes more and more evident that it draws a few elements from the previous releases, namely riffs from "Turn It Around" and passages from "Symptoms & Cures". I like to think of the song as a strategically placed bridge between this record and the older material. "Surrender Control", the third single, follows. Don't be fooled by its basic structure, this song written to be played live. Similarly, "Absolute" is probably your stereotypical CBK composition. Although I wasn't really surprised when the single dropped (despite Devin Townsend of Strapping Young Lad making an appearance), I can definitely see it now enhancing the character of the album.
"Hell Of A Scene" follows the rules of a good e-mail: be short, be bold, be gone. In less than 2', it bounces between the intensity of 80's hardcore to melodic punk passages and clean singing. I definitely didn't see it coming. They took a ballsy risk that could have easily been a hit-or-miss situation (let's be factual, it would have definitely been a "miss" case for many bands), but the Canadians turned it around and it paid off.  
Moving on. The second single, "Somewhere, Somehow" was released shortly after their summer tour was over. Another pit?hit, with a thrashy hook that transitions into a catchy vocal melody that will be stuck in your head for days. 
"Consumed The Vision" has more of a modern punk vibe, which hardly comes as a surprise, considering it features Chris Cresswell of The Flatliners and that guitarist Stu Ross and drummer Loren Legare still carry the legacy of the punk rock outfit Living With Lions. So far so good; halfway through the record, the listener is thoroughly warmed up.
Entering the second half with "I'll Be That", we notice that the boys return to the heavier element. Whether it's the thrashy guitar on that track, the pure hardcore feel on "Outrage" or the short but very intense "Blindspot", you are guaranteed to be moshing in your living room. With the introduction of "Livid, I'm Prime" one thing, which is very rare in modern heavy music, is clear; if a band knows how to write music, a minute and a half is all they need to properly express their creativity by building and then brazenly releasing tension. I believe that the following song, "Recover", has a tad more singing than the band initially planned but it perfectly suits the track -probably one of my favorites in the album. And after the small break, the aggressiveness continues. "Throw The Stone" doesn't really give you time to adjust when the opening riff -which by the way sort of has a Nevermore vibe- hits you in the face. "Moment In Time" is the final song on the album and deals with taking care of a family member with terminal illness. Guest singer Northcote starts the song with a beautiful, almost haunting vocal melody before we are greeted with the last sonic assault reeking of frustration.  

Listening to the different elements in singles, I really felt the album would be much more polarising. It is no doubt well-written, fast and melodic like most of CBK's material, but more mature -not necessarily in a strictly "grown-up" sense. The band took a plethora of different music elements from thrash to punk to old school hardcore, filtered them through their playing and seamlessly converted them into this angry, vigorous yet soulful amalgam.
Loren, the latest addition to the band, picks up where Jesse Labovitz left off and brings his personality into his playing. It is also noteworthy that the bass, more present than ever, at times is an entity of its own but not once does it sound irrelevant. Overall, they may not be reinventing the wheel but, with such a lively album, they are definitely putting another solid rock in their legacy.
Did it exceed my expectations? Yes, by all means. Am I looking forward to singing along in the upcoming tour? You bloody bet I am. 
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