Comeback Kid - Die Knowing - (8/10)
Published on March 17, 2014
You’re not hardcore, unless you live hardcore.
When considering which is the greatest hardcore band of the modern era, there’s really only one contender and that is obviously Winnipeg’s1 Comeback Kid, who’ve been throwing down in the scene themselves now for some 14 years and five albums.2 From here things get a little trickier, with the candidacy then for the title of greatest modern hardcore record being split between their breakout, second album Wake The Dead (2005) and their outstanding fourth record, Symptoms & Cures (2010). I side with the later, which, four-years down the track, in 2014 we see the long awaited follow up to in Die Knowing.
There really wasn’t anyway Comeback Kid were going to top Symptoms & Cures but, as Andrew Neufield screams on “Lower The Line,” “When circumstance holds you back, lower the line… HARDEN FOCUS!” And that’s exactly what Comeback Kid do with their fifth long-player, delivering one of the most straight-forward and intensive records of their carrier.
Die Knowing is certainly Comeback Kid’s most “metal” record, with a lot of the earlier tracks on the album containing riffs that may as well have been ripped from early Megadeth albums or something.3 Literally bursting out of the gate with “Lower The Line,” after the downtrodden, swelling aggression of the title track, through the Converge-like animosity of “Wasting Arrows” and the blistering “Loosing Sleep.”
About halfway through the album though, Comeback shift into a more punk-based sound, full of catchy choruses and swing-beats – trading in all the palm-muted 30-second notes in favor of strummed sixteenths and bouncy eighths. This material is the band’s most hook-driven and outright punk sounding since the Wade era, and the songs are fantastic in their own right. Yet they hardly compare to the intensified attack of Die Knowing’s earlier moments, and thus, while it can’t be faulted, this second half comes as a bit of a disappointment.
The flow-on effect of this is that while Die Knowing is seven-and-a-half minutes shorter than Symptoms & Cures it feels a lot longer. There’s plenty of good stuff to be had in the later stages – with the infectious sing-along chants of “Sink In” and “Lead Astray” harking back to the best of Wake The Dead; with “Full Swing” even featuring original Comeback Kid vocalist Scott Wade, who sang on that record – but by the time the thundering “I Depend, I Control” and the scrappy punk of “Somewhere In This Miserable…” have rolled by, you’ve also seen the last of the vigorously assailing band who were doing such a good job of punishing us for ever doubting them, though maybe that’s merely because, by this point, their point has clearly been made.
Die Knowing isn’t as good as Symptoms & Cures, or even any of the band’s last three records, but it’s still among the best
modern, – wait, forget that – hardcore has to offer.
1 That’s in Canada, eh.
2 Which isn’t to say that there aren’t any other great modern hardcore bands, just that Comeback Kid shit all over them from a great height.
3 A friend of mine has diagnosed, accurately I think, the difference between a hardcore riff and a thrash metal riff as being that the thrash riff starts with a string of open, palm-muted notes (hence the all the thrashing) and ends its measure with some sort of coda, finishing on an emphasized note; while the hardcore riff begins with the emphasized note and trails off into the opens.