Comeback Kid will always be in the fortunate position of having such an illustrious degree of experience behind them. In a genre like hardcore where the needle doesn’t need to be moved for a band to be great, Comeback Kid serve as a prime barometer for that notion, now reaching their 20th birthday with barely a black mark to their name. Not only does their longevity speak for itself, but it’s an example of how watertight their approach to the genre has been, even up to their most recent output. 2017’s Outsider wasn’t among gold-plated best, but it says a lot that own our analysis of that album began with the exact same notion on Comeback Kid’s consistency, but they really flaunt that well. Even more so here on Heavy Steps, they present a sterling example for how useful of an asset that experience can be, drilling into the bedrock of what this sound can offer and striking gold with every move. There’s barely a second where the full-throttle, full-throated nature of Comeback Kid doesn’t strike hard and fast; Andrew Neufeld’s carnivorous snap has lost none of its viciousness for one, the gnashing mouthpiece of the purest hardcore ethos crystallised in its most efficient form. That goes for the rest of the album too, in how it bears a tightness indicative of the genre’s very best, and a command of momentum that’s frankly astounding. You needn’t look further than the opening title track for the thesis statement of Comeback Kid even this far down the road—vibrant, catchy to a fault, but keeping its vision locked on a purpose and defiance that’s not aged a day. It’s a similar energy to Every Time I Die continuing to refine themselves with each new release, only in the case of Heavy Steps, the more experimental streaks are swapped out for another helping of blunt force to the temple.
But that’s what Comeback Kid do though, and indeed what they’ve always done. To say their brand of hardcore encompasses ‘the basics’ would probably sound backhanded if there wasn’t such evident artistry behind it. Here, you’ve got a bass tone that’s flat-out incredible in accentuating a raggedness in the mix, but also playing off an acuteness in the guitars and drums that boosts the demolition even further. They’re able to pick up the pace for double-time blows on tracks like Face The Fire and Shadow Of Doubt without losing that phenomenal presence, and even couple that on Everything Relates with a tone that’s notably brighter and upbeat. It’s the little tweaks and dashes of spice that unveil the true magic of Heavy Steps, a core so strong and reliable that additions piled on can only make it better. That’s certainly true of Gojira’s Joe Duplantier on Crossed to provide highlights for the album’s key moments of power; or the sawlike guitar tone of Dead On The Fence; or the instrumental agility that breaks forth from Standstill. The lack of true innovation just feels more and more like a petty nitpick with each passing track, such is the standard that Comeback Kid hold themselves to here. It’s the sort of album that can reinvigorate a sound through the simple fact of being a shining example of why it’s so wonderful, something that Comeback Kid have never slouched at, but feel sharper and more galvanised on Heavy Steps than they have on record in ages. It’s just good, proper, smash-through-a-wall hardcore of the most top quality, and that’s something everyone can get behind, isn’t it?
For fans of: Stray From The Path, Your Demise, H2O
‘Heavy Steps’ by Comeback Kid is released on 21st January on Nuclear Blast Records.
Words by Luke Nuttall