While They Were Sleeping
7th October 2016 – Metal Blade Records
01. While They Were Sleeping
03. Wandering Light
04. The Cause
06. One of You Will Betray Me
08. The Whole World Will Burn
09. Behind These Walls
10. With Broken Bones
11. Ten Thousand Tears
With a history of producing challenging, genre-mashing progressive music that stretches back to the nineties, Candiria have a strong claim to being godfathers of modern tech-metal – but unfortunately, one would probably have to amend that title to read ‘forgotten godfathers’, given how low their profile has been in recent years. Hopefully, this is about to change.
Back in 2001, as the likes of The Dillinger Escape Plan and SikTh were starting to gain momentum, Candiria dropped their fourth album, 300 Percent Density; a stone cold classic which took big, chunky riffs and lashed them to awkward time signatures, full-bore jazz freakouts and blasts of furious hip-hop. It was a whole lot to take in. In 2002, events took a dramatic turn when their tour van was involved in an horrific accident as they traveled between gigs. With every member hospitalised with injuries of varying severity, the future of the band was very much in doubt.
Candiria’s will to survive resulted in 2004′s What Doesn’t Kill Us…, containing probably the most easily accessible material they had written and practically dripping with defiance. However, the accident cast a long shadow over the band, with the majority of members leaving and ultimately rejoining. Apart from the low-key release of Kiss The Lie in 2009 and a series of rarity/remix collections called Toying With The Insanities, Candiria had fallen silent.
Fast forward to 2014, and a once more resurgent Candiria release a standalone single, “Invaders“, which proved there was still life in the project yet – but we’ve still had a relatively long wait to find out exactly what they have been up to. And its been worth the wait.
While They Were Sleeping is a particularly well balanced record. It retains both the genre-hopping adventurous nature and in-your-face attitude of the Candiria of old, but packages them into a more refined, more mature package. The title track itself leaps straight from crunchy off kilter stabs into a bossa nova break and back again, but feels perfectly natural in the process.
Perhaps Candiria’s greatest talent is in lashing together constituent parts that are wildly different from one another into a cohesive whole. Standout track “One of You Will Betray Me” marries a slow, predatory guitar chug with a loping, elastic bassline to create one of the most compulsive grooves committed to record this year. Indeed, most songs see the bass and guitar embarking on separate, interweaving adventures rather than simply mirroring each other. John Lamacchia’s guitar riffs are characterised by the taut, choppy tones of the metallic hardcore scene that grew out from their native New York in the nineties.
They are then masterfully underpinned by Danny Grossarth’s drumming, and his clearly jazz influenced playing style is full of ticks, twitches and other inspired flourishes, like the off-beat hi hats that give the vibe of “The Whole World Will Burn” an unexpected twist. Speaking of unexpected twists, “Opaque” dials down the madness and ups the soulfulness substantially, sounding not dissimilar to Dillinger’s more dulcet moments.
With only the relatively short “The Cause” descending into awkward dissonant noise, While They Were Sleeping comfortably walks the line between technical prowess and accessible songwriting with an ease that only comes from operating as a unit for over twenty years. It’s an album sure to delight long-standing fans of the band and serves as an excellent introduction for newcomers before exploring their back catalogue. Outstanding stuff.