By Eric Stuckart
Last time we heard form Canadian melodic hardcore band Comeback Kid, guitarist Andrew Neufield dropped his axe and stepped up to the plate to replace then-vocalist Scott Wade.
The resulting album, 2007’s Broadcasting, was a heavier effort, and the switch in singers was a bit jarring to these ears. The songs had more of a metallic flavor to them, with less of the melodic slant that they had become known for, and Neufield’s vocals took a little getting used to.
It was by no means a bad album, but it seemed like a different band, and in my opinion, it definitely paled in comparison to their breakthrough sophomore release, Wake the Dead. That album encapsulated everything that they were about: past paced riffs, sing along choruses, and tons of energy. Considering the fact that I still to this day throw on Wake the Dead on a pretty regular basis, and haven’t really spent much time with Broadcasting since its release should be testament to that statement.
That being said, when I heard the opening riffs of Symptoms + Cures, their fourth album, I was pleasantly surprised. No, this isn’t the same Comeback Kid that we heard on Wake the Dead, but they’ve managed to take the differences between the past two albums and meet at a sort of halfway point, using the strengths from each to make what is in my opinion an even stronger impression of who they are.
Neufield’s singing sounds much more natural with the band, as he’s adopted more of a mix between a raw melodic approach and a style more in tune with his style in hardcore band Figure Four. This is in no way to make it sound like one of the countless metal and ‘core bands alternating between the rough and clean vocals, though. When he sings melodically, they are in no way clean or pretty; these are vocals full of passion and emotions; it’s melody through the very act of yelling until there’s nothing left in his lungs.
Kicking off with the one-two punch of “Do Yourself a Favor” and “Crooked Floors,” it’s a pretty good indication of what they sound like now. Definitely leaning more on the hardcore side of things now, the band is much more intense and in your face than they had been in the past. Most of the songs sound as though they are hinging on completely exploding into a torrent of rage and emotions, and it suits them.
Where Wake the Dead, and even Broadcasting, had an underlying sense of hopefulness, much of Symptoms sounds like that well has run dry, and all that’s left is the rage. Many of the songs focus on the pain of looking back and the need to move on, and it’s perfectly reflected in the songs.
“Symptoms + Cures,” the title track, probably best exemplifies this. Opening with a what is likely the most depressing riff on the album, it keeps building up, adding layer upon layer of guitar, until it breaks into a faster version of itself, with Neufield screaming bloody murder. “I don’t know a lot of people who have given as much of their lives and dedicated their minds and souls so fervently to the vision intact.” The entire song is a dramatic reflection upon the dedication required to stay true to one’s morals and values, it’s easily one of the most downtempo things they’ve ever recorded.
With all of the musical growth at hand, some of their more trademark elements are still intact, though. The melodic gang vocals are still plentiful, and the band still has a knack for writing catchy hooks throughout. Symptoms + Cures is just merely the next evolutionary step for the band; it doesn’t sound forced, and you have to give them credit for being honest with themselves and their fans.
Front page photo courtesy of Victory Records.