November 7, 2016 Candiria – While They Were Sleeping (Album Review)
Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, Candiria has been offering their unique brand of Metal to the world for over two decades now. One of the only surviving bands to come out of the ’90s New York Hardcore scene, a scene where many bands came out of, but not too many found it easy to stay afloat, Candiria paved their own way, mixing Metal with Rap and Jazz. Quickly standing out, they released albums quite regularly until their near-fatal accident in September of 2002, leaving each of the members with a long road to recovery. It would be a whole two years before they released a new album, 2004’s What Doesn’t Kill You… and another five years until 2009’s Kiss the Lie. Now, seven years later, Vocalist Carley Coma, Bassist Michael Maclvor, Drummer Danny Grossarth, and Guitarists John LaMacchia and Julia Arias return with a new album, While They Were Sleeping. Released on October 7, 2016 via Metal Blade Records, it is a concept album dreamt up by Coma, revolving around a failed musician revolting against monarchy in New York City.
Twelve songs in total, it kicks off with title-track “While They Were Sleeping.” Starting off with a three second bang, this song was designed to do two things – one, set up the plot and setting of the story, and two – set the tone of the album. After those three initial seconds of confusion, the song blasts off with a menacing guitar riff. Coma’s screams cuts through the music, placing himself at the center of the beautiful chaos. Midway through, as is Candiria’s signature move, they break into smooth Latin Jazz led by the bass. Even though the Latin Jazz intermission feels like it comes out of nowhere, it is not out of place. They nurtured the lead in and out in such a way that the intermission does not seem out of place.
Quite a beginning, from there, “Mereya” starts off with a strong riff. A very memorable riff that will get stuck in a listener’s head, Coma’s clean singing stops along with the band dispersing into different directions, ultimately leading to an incredibly and New York sounding Jazz arrangement. Like the first track, the song comes back to “reality” in a very nurtured way that does not hurt the integrity of the song. Next comes “Wandering Light,” which is a nice track where they return to their Hardcore roots. The guitars feel very staccato, almost as if they were leaving chord changes for the very last possible second. In addition, it sounds very sticky, almost as if they are playing the song too fast live and just cannot get the last three chords in time. It works and is no doubt one the heavier songs in the album.
Moving along, “The Cause” is the standout song in terms of musicianship and themes in the storyline. Starting off with very menacing riff, it continues through the end, making the listener feel as if it is following them. There really is a sense of dread and paranoia that comes from the riff itself, and adding to it all, it is hard to make out what Coma is screaming. With that, the more one may want to focus on the words, the more they will hear the riff and the louder it gets. A very clever approach, it is sure to be a fan-favorite. This is before “Forgotten,” which is perhaps the most easily accessible song of While They Were Sleeping with a very straight-forward Hard Rock approach. A welcomed addition, of course most of the album does not sound like this.
Keeping the theme of paranoia going, “One of You Will Betray Me” starts off with the guitars playing a single note melody before the band goes in a completely different direction. This style lets the audience know anything can happen at this point, thus the title speaks for itself. Thereafter, another standout cut, “Opaque,” comes across very mellow. The whole album up to this point has been heavy as well as powerful, and with this song, listeners can really feel the pain and suffering of our hero that has been captured and tortured. Adding to the drama, Coma sings, “Go ahead and take my life, but you will never take my home, my voice will carry on for those of us left fighting” as a beautiful sounding female back-up repeats the words.
Changing it up again, “The Whole World Will Burn” at first does not sound like it would live up to the rest of the album. Although, those who stay with it will be rewarded with a really cool combination of rapping, screaming, and a very powerful chorus. Continuing with a tension buildup, “Behind These Walls” starts off with a combination of vocals and bass before picking up to the sounds of screaming along with strong and chunky guitar riffs, offering the album’s guitar solo. More upfront, “With Broken Bones” starts off with plenty of double bass and screaming to make every Metalhead feel warm and gooey inside. True to Candiria’s style, it quickly changes its pace to a slower, yet much more powerful feel, but there are plenty of screams to come along with more exotic female vocals for deeper dynamics.
The climax of the story, “Ten Thousand Tears” starts off with a barrage of snare hits and gallops. One of those songs that will be so much fun to hear live, the variations between bass solo, a guitar solo, and more rap/screaming are plentiful. Concluding, everything goes quiet, leading to the very end of the story where “Servitude” is very much a slower piece compared to the rest of the album. This assists in it sticking out, giving a sense that this is not only an important song, but there is an important message entwined that Candiria wants the audience to absorb.
Not many bands can come back after such a long time away from the music scene and give their fans something this powerful and heavy-hitting. A lot of bands that have been out for decades sometimes fall short in the new material, they either keep playing the same songs over and over, or lose touch with themselves completely. Candiria’s first album since 2009, While They Were Sleeping not only tells fans that they are back, but it also tells them that they will keep delivering and evolving with each release from here on out. CrypticRock gives While They Were Sleeping 5 out of 5 stars.