Review Summary: A fun, yet flawed, hardcore record that isn't without its share of hidden gems.
Comeback Kid are one of those seminal bands, not in the way that their music has had some sort of lasting impact on the scene, but in the way that for an entire generation -- those who came of age in the era of Victory Records in the first half of the 2000s' – they were that first stepping stone away from the mall kid trends and into more traditionalist forms of hardcore. At the same time, this is both their greatest strength and weakness when looking at their career. It has created a divided fanbase. On one side you have those fans whose love for their “first” hardcore band knows no bounds, well except for Broadcasting
. On the other you have those fans who are still desperately holding on to Turn It Around
and Wake The Dead
like those before them held on to Bane and Judge. They completely dismiss all things beyond their first two records, ignoring the fact that Symptoms + Cures
might just be their best record. It's an interesting dynamic to say the least.
Comeback Kid take both sides of their camp into consideration on Die Knowing
. Half of the record is primed to incite plenty of push mosh violence and circle pitting at all ages venues across the continent. All one has to do is listen to the monstrous build up of title track or the blistering power chord stomp of “I Depend, I Control”.The other half of the record sees the band continue into Strike Anywhere-like territory even further, brandishing massive woah-oh sing alongs and an increasing penchant for skate punk hooks – especially on the penultimate “Didn't Even Mind”. It makes for a surprisingly fun and varied record. Yet, that's not to say that the record is without its foibles. The biggest problem is Die Knowing
never comes into its own. The heavier moments on the record fall into the same hardcore tropes that were already becoming formulaic by the time Start Today
was still considered fresh. The same can also be said for the “punkier” aspects of the record. While there's no doubt that the chorus in “Beyond” will be a great platform for audience participation live, on recording it can't help but draw comparisons to The Offspring before they became nothing more than a joke band. Further exasperating things, the record is horribly over produced. The polish and sheen stands in stark contrast with the grimy, sweat-soaked energy that drips from every pore of the album.
Taking this all into consideration, there is one gleaming ray of praise when talking about Die Knowing
. “Unconditional” is easily the best song the band has ever written. Where most of the album is content with relying on speed and pandering to a live setting, “Unconditional” pours forth with the brooding weight and tension that made their first two records resonate after the circle pits and stage dives were only a memory of the night before.