ALBUM REVIEW: Comeback Kid – Heavy Steps
Photo Credit: Avrinder Dhillon
For the best part of two decades, Canadian juggernauts Comeback Kid have firmly etched their place in the Mount Rushmore of modern hardcore bands. With their seventh album Heavy Steps, the five-piece haven’t just solidified their place as one of heavy music’s premier bands, but that they can still continue to create exciting music along the way.
One thing you can always rely on Comeback Kid for is to bring a level of urgency to their music. Since their first released Turn It Around all the way up to Heavy Steps, the band plays with such pace and passion, but sprinkle in elements of melody in all the right places and it just seems to really extenuate everything that they are producing.
With a four year gap between Outsider and this record, vocalist Andrew Neufeld said that the theme of this new material is “hitting the ground running, not knowing when or where the ground could break from underneath you,” and that is exactly what Comeback Kid have done coming out of the pandemic.
But once they have hit the ground there is no stopping them. All the songs off Heavy Steps seems to go by in a flash, but in typical fashion for the band those songs aren’t without catchy hooks, memorable riffs and killer breakdowns.
The record gets right into things with the title track Heavy Steps, with a crunching riff before the words “Heavy Steps On Hollowed Ground” sound out in a group chant. And in just three minutes and 22 seconds, Comeback Kid showcase everything that makes them a band to still get excited about 20 years since they first formed. The song has all the best bits of Comeback Kid in it: gang vocals; a catchy chorus; a beatdown where people can mosh to; and Neufeld’s trademark growl acting as the cherry on top.
The title track, alongside No Easy Way Out, really set the pace for the record and it is really off to the races when the band burst into Face The Fire. The song has so much melody to it, but still manages to keep that ferocious speed that Comeback Kid have injected into their music. The way that guitarists Jeremy Hiebert and Stu Ross seamlessly transition from ripping melodic lines to chugging heavy riffs is just a joy to behold.
To really emphasis how great Comeback Kid are at songwriting – the two tracks on the record that feature guest spots don’t feel like the person in question stands out from the band, instead blends into what the quintet are producing. Whether that be Gojira‘s Joe Duplantier or Deez Nuts‘ JJ Peters, their additions are subtle but effective.
But for the pent up energy that the band delivers into this album, it is the more stompy track of Dead On The Fence which really stands out. Delivering a riff in the chorus which wouldn’t be out of place in a hair metal song, a beatdown which will have listeners throw fits through a wall and a scream of “Dead On The Fence,” which will have fans clambering for the microphone when the band finally come over to these shores again.
More than two decades into their musical career, it is testament to Comeback Kid‘s drive as they sound as focused as ever. Neufeld in particular sounds fired up, giving arguably one of his best vocal performances since fronting the band. The mixer extraordinaire Will Putney gives Heavy Steps that extra shine. It could be argued that this is just the next phase in evolution of what Comeback Kid are able to achieve.
It may be fair to say that Comeback Kid may not have reinvented the wheel when it comes to hardcore music, but what they have achieved with Heavy Steps is a record that will certainly blow out the cobwebs. It showcases a band who don’t show any signs of slowing down, even 20 years into their tenure.
Standout Tracks: Everything Relates, Dead On The Fence, Standstill
For Fans Of: Terror, Madball, Every Time I Die
Written by: Tim Birkbeck