Comeback Kid - Heavy Steps (Cover Artwork)

Comeback Kid

Heavy Steps (2022)

Nuclear Blast

It’s deeply unfair that when I talk with my friends about Comeback Kid, the response is generally “Wake The Dead” is a banger. Absolutely it is, the song and the album are certainly the most familiar with any of the band’s output. But that discounts that Comeback Kid has become a finely oiled machine of metallic hardcore that commands respect across the punk rock music spectrum. How many bands do you know that could feature guest spots by Chris Cresswell of The Flatliners/Hot Water Music, Devin Townsend, Russ Rankin from Good Riddance, and with their latest release, Heavy Steps, Joe Duplantier of Gojira while never sounding forced or out of character? I can tell you how many. Zero.

Heavy Steps is their 7th full length and 2nd release for metal label Nuclear Blast. It marks the band’s longest gap between albums of their career coming in at about 5 years. Comeback Kid wasted no time getting back into it with opener “Heavy Steps.” Gang vocals yelling “Heavy steps / On hollow ground” confirm to the listener that the wait was worth it. The opener has Comeback Kid firing on all cylinders - anthemic punk rock chorus, monstrous breakdowns and gang vocals, and a metallic crunch throughout. Compared to 2017’s Outsider, Heavy Steps takes a more straightforward approach. One might say this is back-to-basics from Comeback Kid, but honestly, they haven’t strayed all that far to begin with.

Production wise the drums, bass, and vocals all sound sharper in the mix giving the record big dynamics. They allow for low ends that drive through each song adding renewed bounce to their step. When they utilize this dynamic to build up energy they result in the heaviest breakdowns of their career. See the ending of “Shadow of Doubt” for example. While Comeback Kid never shy away from a mosh part, they also don’t just rest on the laurels of their breakdowns. “Dead on the Fence” implements thrashy metal parts that connect it’s anthemic chorus to its towering start and end allowing Andrew Neufeld to sound completely unhinged screaming “Storm rushing to find / No love, no calm of mind / the Storm’s crushing.”

For fans who are stuck on Wake The Dead, there's definitely a lot to love with Heavy Steps. “Shadow of Doubt” sounds like it could’ve come straight from the album, breakneck speeds and guitar leads that climb their way up the fretboard for contrast included. “In-Between” is another example of this finding the band channeling more punk rock than hardcore. Comeback Kid also makes good use of the guest vocals from Gojira’s Duplantier. He makes the epic nature of his booming heavy metal vocalizations fit perfectly into the call and response of “Crossed.” It creates a powerful contrast to Neufeld’s more melodic offerings. In addition, Heavy Steps includes a guest spot from J.J. Peters of Deez Nuts. 

Heavy Steps is another consistent edition to Comeback Kid’s catalog offering one of the first great punk rock albums of 2022. In, out, and over in 32 minutes, there is a lot of replay value in this one. Comeback Kid never let the foot off the gas all the way through closer “Menacing Weight.” The band closes the album with Neufeld singing, “In search of reminders / Some tangible fix / Recover the record / That’s still saving me / I’ve hardly addressed / You saw it in me / Releasing the damage / Impossibly free.” A fitting swan song for Heavy Steps