Album Review: Comeback Kid – Symptoms + Cures

Within any genre of music, it is always beneficial for a band or artist to be seen as trend-setters. This status can be achieved not only through originality, but also through superiority over all others in the performance of the archetypal form of the genre, and when it comes to hardcore, Comeback Kid certainly fall into the latter category. The greatest strength of the Canadian five-piece has never been their uniqueness, but time after time, Andrew Neufeld and co have proved that they are unrivalled in the skill of creating perfectly formed, fiercely impassioned hardcore punk anthems, which contain the ideal dosage of melody and energy to be tailor-made for crowd participation when performed live. 2007’s ‘Broadcasting…’ is widely regarded as the pick of the band’s albums, but since its release, it could be argued that hardcore has undergone something of a gradual transformation, with the likes of Cancer Bats, This Is Hell and The Ghost Of A Thousand all issuing albums which succeed in expanding the supposed boundaries of the genre. CBK’s new offering, therefore, is perhaps the band’s most important to date. Thank goodness, then, that ‘Symptoms + Cures’ is an absolute masterpiece.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the three aforementioned bands are all fully deserving of the vast amounts of acclaim they each received for their eagerness to add elements of metal and even rock ‘n’ roll to distinctly hardcore foundations. On the other hand, radical Comeback Kid Symptoms + Curesprogression in style is not always required to create high-quality hardcore, and perhaps the best thing about ‘Symptoms + Cures’ is the extent to which it proves this theory. The fourth CBK album is the culmination of the band’s unrelenting determination to stick to their guns; raw, impassioned and gimmick-free, this is simply a collection of 11 truly spectacular, overwhelmingly vibrant songs, executed with remarkable verve and class. Every track galvanises and instils a feeling of power in the listener, from the abrasive, no-nonsense stomp of opener ‘Do Yourself A Favor’ to the thrilling, rhythmically-charged conclusion of the climactic ‘Pull Back The Reins’. The album is so stimulating that there is little opportunity for the heart to stop racing, which is no doubt a consequence of the sheer pace displayed on several tracks. The pulsating yet systematic ‘The Concept Says’ is a great illustration of this, as well as the frenetic, gang-chant-laden ‘Crooked Floors’ and the stunning, constantly unfolding ‘Balance’.

However, the fact that ‘Symptoms + Cures’ shows Comeback Kid reverting to type does not necessarily mean that the album is in any way one-dimensional, and although an uncompromising melodic hardcore base is ever-present, this is not always implemented with the aid of breakneck speed and ferocious riffs. The title track, for instance, possesses an intriguing bleakness, and its commanding melodies add a touch of colour to proceedings. Furthermore, the wonderful ‘Get Alone’ substantiates the theory that it is sometimes the simplest ideas that work best. With a basic yet irresistible rhythmical hook performed with supremacy by drummer Kyle Profeta, stirring displays from guitarists Jeremy Hiebert and Casey Hjelmberg, as well as goosebump-inducing vocals from Andrew Neufeld, these four minutes and fifteen seconds of uninterrupted mastery mark the peak of this remarkable album’s excellence. Across the album, it must be said that Neufeld is the man whose performances particularly shine. Seemingly far more accomplished than on previous CBK releases, the vocalist’s die-by-the-sword style truly comes to the fore on the euphoric, rousing ‘G.M. Vincent & I’ and the relentlessly infectious ‘Because Of All The Things You Say’.

When reviewing an album, one issue that a music journalist often has to contend with is the potential overuse of hyperbole, which obviously comes into play when it is an album that he or she has enjoyed. In relation to this, it is important to ensure that what is written still rings true over time, as there is a possibility that an album can be appreciated upon the initial few plays, but lose its appeal thereafter. Having said that, it is very rare to encounter an album where every track on offer is nothing less than sublime, and when it comes to such cases, it is necessary to attach as much praise to the album as possible. Without question, this description applies to ‘Symptoms + Cures’. Although hardcore is currently in its strongest position for a generation, it almost feels as though Comeback Kid have revitalised the genre with this release. What’s more, they have achieved this by refusing to deviate radically from the general sound that has brought them success thus far, and all 11 tracks possess the capacity to become staples of the band’s live performances in the near future. By creating what will surely be considered one of the finest albums of 2010 come the end of the year, Comeback Kid have cemented their status as true leaders in their field. Astounding.

Rating – 9


About JJPorter

JJ is a 20-year-old student hailing from Scotland, who lives and breathes music. His favourite genres include a variety of styles of metal, as well as hardcore, punk, and just about everything in between. Contact JJPorter on Twitter or via Email.

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