Candiria While They Were Sleeping2016 Metal Blade Records
...Makes you stronger.
Looking back now, it’s hard not to see that Candiria‘s career trajectory was irrevocably altered by their 2002 near-fatal accident. All members suffered serious injuries in that crash, the wreckage of which was later immortalized on the cover of their 2004 album, “What Doesn’t Kill You…“.
The effort that followed five years later was “Kiss The Lie“—a divisive rock-leaning affair that embraced melody over the eclectic genre blurring the band had made a name for themselves with earlier on. While it had its merits, it seemingly wasn’t met with the same level of enthusiasm from the band’s diehard fans, many of whom still longed for the once prominent claustrophobic usage of jazz and hip-hop.
In the time that’s passed since, it almost felt like “Kiss The Lie” would be a confusing epitaph to the band’s groundbreaking career. But as they say, time heals all wounds and now seven years later, Candiria return with a new label behind them (Metal Blade Records) and a new drummer and rhythm guitarist.
With “While They Were Sleeping“, they deliver a vivid conceptual album themed around a failed musician rising against a monarchy in New York City. It’s a bold idea to be sure, but they fully commit to it, bringing back many aspects of the jazz, hardcore and rap styled roots of their past. As enticing as that nostalgic resurgence may be though, this album goes a step further, finding them successfully marrying those progressive tendencies to the melodic aspects found on the album that directly preceded it.
The first single “Mereya” encapsulates much of what they accomplish here. Crisp antagonistic riffing and a brash vocal delivery confront impassioned melodies and an 180° turn into jazzy tenor sax-led scat singing. It’s a fearlessly diverse exhibition of their talent and a sonic journey that is impossible to telegraph upon your first encounter with it.
Throughout the rest of the album they feverishly burn through untold moments of menacing aggression and stunning beauty. Elegantly constructed ambiance & guest parts (see the female vocals on the tumbling “Opaque“) stealthily elevate key points, while darker excursions—such as the distorted cacophony that bathes “The Cause“—act as a jarring palette cleanser, lining up the next big set piece.
Despite a highly varied catalog, none of Candiria‘s past albums have been able to fully showcase the versatile range of frontman Carley Coma quite like this one. From his gut punching screams and urbanized bludgeoning to the soulful harmonies found on songs like “Opaque” and “Servitude” that rival the husky voice of Sevendust‘s Lajon Witherspoon, it’s a tour de force of his and the band’s impressive chops.
Sure, some may lament the loss of powerhouse drummer Ken Shalk, but his replacement Danny Grossarth seems more than capable of holding it down. While not as abstract, his skills are readily proven when given a moment to shine, such as the rousing snare work that emerges towards the close of “One Of You Will Betray Me“.
That said, there are a few moments that might rub a few listeners the wrong way, especially the Papa Roach-like chorus of “Forgotten“, which sounds a bit too radio oriented. Overall, in adapting their songcraft to a concept, the band have been able to go places that writing a normal record likely wouldn’t have allowed.
“While They Were Sleeping” is a vibrant endeavor populated by sweeping highs and lows. A dreamlike journey that revels in bruising hostility and soaring melodies. As an added bonus, once you absorb and digest the musical bombast you can begin to pick apart the story that progressively unfolds throughout the lyrics; A definite perk for those who still prefer to experience albums as a whole.
It’s an enjoyable meta layer that doesn’t suffer from cheesy pretentiousness. In fact, even after multiple listens, you’ll still be piecing together bits of pieces of the spirited tale of struggle and revenge.