While I thoroughly enjoy a good hardcore album as much as the next guy, there’s an overarching gripe that I have that’s keeping me from lauding the genre too much. In my humble opinion, there just isn’t enough unique variety to differentiate the numerous efforts released each year. That is why Angel Du$t’s Rock the Fuck On Forever was one of my favorite albums of last year, and Cruel Hand’s Your World Won’t Listen, while a killer album, currently collects dust on my shelf. Albums with a singular purpose of pummeling your face into a pulp certainly have a revered time and place for me, but very few capture a spirit that can be utilized in more situations than just “pissed off at authority.”
Enter Comeback Kid.
Before their 2014 album Die Knowing, I was essentially what I like to call a casual Pandora fan of Comeback Kid. If their older material popped up on a radio playlist or something, I’d rock out to it, but I didn’t really know the band that well. Die Knowing definitely got my attention, but, aside from the title track, didn’t necessarily hold it for too long. See my aforementioned gripe. Comeback Kid was still a decent staple in the hardcore realm, though, and cool enough for me to notice Outsider upon its release. I expected good stuff going into the album. What I came out with is required listening.
Best advice I can give you all is buckle up, because this album is an absolute tour de force. The opening title track immediately shows Comeback Kid sounding infinitely bigger and more important than ever before. The band definitely went H.A.M. at the riff store, busting out some of their best octave-exploring guitarwork in years. Perhaps it was their recent signing to Nuclear Blast records, but there is a new sense of ferocity present that is absolutely mind-melting. Don’t believe me? Just wait for the breakdown in track “Surrender Control,” easily one of the hardest-hitting moments in hardcore that I’ve heard in quite some time. All of this makes for one hell of a hardcore album, but just what is it about Outsider shatters my previous gripe about variety?
The quick answer: the album is a melting pot of so many hardcore/punk/metal styles and influences. “Hell of a Scene” lashes out with punkish speed in the verses before jumping into a more upbeat, punk chorus, and the proceeding track “Somewhere, Somehow” evokes in the chorus a bit of an emo, Architects (UK)-ish melody. Other tracks such as “I’ll Be That” are pure Turnstile-esque hardcore, while a couple others such as “Blindspot” and “Recover” are very reminiscent of punk/melodic hardcore bands like A Wilhelm Scream. In short, you get plenty of extreme-ass bang for your buck.
And then there are the guest vocals. Comeback Kid recruit some of the best talent in the game to lend their pipes to the album, and the results are subtle, yet scathing. The one and only Devin Townsend (yes, really) screams his ass off on the track “Absolute,” and it couldn’t be more perfect. “Consumed the Vision” brings in one of my favorite musicians of all time, Chris Cresswell of The Flatliners, for a song that, surprise surprise, sounds as much like a Comeback Kid song as it does a Flatliners song. The album comes to a brutally somber close with a feature from folk singer/songwriter Northcote, and it is at the end of this song that you can finally take your first breath.
Outsider plays like the kind of album Comeback Kid have been working up to their entire career. If one were to laugh at the idea of a hardcore/punk band writing a magnum opus, Comeback Kid are here to promptly punch out their smirking teeth. This is easily the best album I’ve heard from the genre in years, and easily one of the best of the year spanning all genres. There is something here for everyone, and that includes you. If this album doesn’t knock you on your ass, you’re probably listening to the wrong one. It’s called Outsider by Comeback Kid. Fix yourself.