Review Summary: Your favorite record of 2009 just got told to sit in a corner.
Candiria is a band that have, for the better part of 15 years, been one of New York City's hometown heroes. They were always that band that played any show, any time, anywhere and straight-up tore *** up without a hitch, everytime. With their innovative, highly-technical mishmash of metal, free jazz, rap, and unadulterated hardcore, Candiria set the bar for manic technicality underpinned with thunderous grooves and ball-shaking rhythms that would make Glassjaw's "You Think You're John ***ing Lennon" *** its panties. Albums like Process Of Self-Development
and 300 Percent Density
are rightfully considered landmark underground classics of technical heavy/experimental music. And yet Candiria is also one of those bands where not only are they criminally neglected and underrated, but seem to be a magnet for all types of ***ed-up happenings. These dudes seriously can NOT catch a break. Just read their Sputnik Bio or their Wikipedia entry to get a handle of just why it must SUCK to be in this band sometimes.
Thankfully one thing that never sucks is their music. Both familiar and quite different from anything Candiria have done before, Kiss The Lie
is a true beast of an album, dense and complex, not really catchy in the traditional sense, but strangely compelling. There are no more token jazz or rap tracks, and certainly no more obligatory "Remove Yourself" alt-metal singles, but in terms of melodic/album flow and concept, Candiria - kings of spastic genre-jumping and the epitomy of unpredictability - have never even come close to hinting at putting out something this solid and unified. The result is a record that is arguably the strongest of their career while sounding unlike anything out there right now. And you're not going to "get" it right away. A lot of their older fans will most likely hate it for not being 1 Million Percent Density
. Give it a few listens for it to sink in. But oh boy, when it does, step the *** back. Kiss The Lie
can be roughly described as retaining some of the newfound melodic sensibilities from What Doesn't Kill You
with a newer, alt-metal sound reminiscient of Tool's 10,000 Days
(let's be real, what it should have been) making love to Catch 33
-era Meshuggah with some of the standard, rhythmic complexity Candiria has been known for.
The Tool influence is quite apparent in opening track, the 6:40 "Icarus Syndrome", beginning with an acapella Arabic-sounding vocal from Coma that builds into a a very Tool-ish undulating bassline, palm-muted riffs and Kenneth Schalk's signature polyrhythmic percussion, suddenly lurching into a behemoth riff and verse, replete with Coma's trademark hardcore bark and rapidly-shifting meters (with some seriously awesome, random double-bass explosions). Just about every instrument is doing its own time-sig thing but with Schalk's controlled drumming it somehow all meets up and sounds cohesive without being a bunch of prog-wank. The bridge/breakdown of the song brings something new to Candiria's bag of tricks - a truly epic prog-rock soundscape with sweet, ringing counterpoint arpeggios and a beautiful, melodic lead courtesy of LaMacchia. This then leads back into the heavy main riff and an expansive, polyrhythmic climax that slowly ebbs and fades into silence, capped by, of all things, a quiet electronica beat - that you then realize had been playing during the whole outro!
Next is "Sirens", what would have been a no-brainer choice for a single. A song that strangely sounds reminiscient of - bear with me - 311, with it's super-smooth verse beat and processed, melodic vocal hook. That comparison is immediately destroyed once the chorus comes in, where Carly brings back his trademark 300 Percent Density
-days hardcore shriek with a slithery, paranoid guitar riff and manic drumbeat underpinning the proceedings. The bridge is the truly awesome part of this song, where the song 180's into a spine-chilling, gorgeous melodic hook (am I hearing acoustics in there?!) that will completely slay you at the right volume.
Song like "Sirens" highlights one of Kiss The Lie's
best aspects, that being Carley Coma's versatile vocals which go from discordant howls to incredibly smooth melodic crooning, helping to make even the most dissonant parts of this record much more palatable than Candiria's older material while being fresh and interesting. The band is not to be outdone either, with Kenneth Schalk turning in another truly awe-inspiring performance (just listen to the breakdown/bridge of "The Sleeper" or pretty much all of "Icarus Syndrome" and try not to bust one in your boxers) while The MacIvor lays down some of the smoothest melodic low-end you'll listen to in a band this heavy. Truly the least-metal member of the group, his complex, melodic basslines are many times the anchor keeping the band from veering too far into dissonant headbangery. Guitarists LaMacchia and rhythm stand-in Eddie Ortiz (Cattlepress, The Dying Light) lay down the traditional Candiria rhythmic guitar stylings; palm-muted, abstract riffage usually complementing the band's godly rhythm section, but unlike past Candiria records, LaMacchia's lead playing and riffs play a much bigger part in where the songs go.
Nowhere is that more apparent than on "The Sleeper / Thorns For The Dying", one of the big standouts (if not their career zenith) of this record. Starting out with a by-the-numbers main riff (helped immensely by the subtle syncopation and meter changes in what would be a normal 4/4 beat) the song transforms into an almost Smashing Pumpkin-esque, soaring chorus, complete with Carley harmonizing a beautiful melody (that's a girl singing with him btw) on top of the dueling octave chords. The same holds true for late highlight "It Starts With A Splinter, It Ends With A Knife", a song meant for a live show with moshable verses contrasted with a transcendant melodic chorus. Although much of the record is quite heavy, it's the overtly melodic moments that are the biggest (and coincidentally most interesting departures from the Candiria "sound" . "Alicia" is a lovely ambient number, characterised by some smooth improv jazz-blues leads and delicate background harmonics, while wind-chimes and backwards-tracked guitar fade in and out. The stunning "Ascend" showcases more acoustic guitar, keys that could have come straight out of Thrice's "Open Water" along with delicate, flanged-vocals from Carley creating a dreamy, sleepy effect, contrasted with the heavier tone the song takes later. There are contrasts all over this record such as this which only adds to its appeal.
Overall, it's the combination of the fun meathead sections and delicate/beautiful melodic sections that truly make this record memorable, more so than the technically more-demanding, super-aggressive older records. Candiria stepped up massively with melody and as songwriters on Kiss The Lie
without resorting to the blatantly grasping-for-mainstream sections that littered What Doesn't Kill You
, while raising the bar for their peers and artists to come. And the funniest things about it?
a.) Practically no one has even heard of it
b.) The band only spent something like three weeks writing and recording it
c.) Due to time constraints, most of the material was music meant for LaMacchia's other band (Spylacopa, featuring members of Dillinger Escape Plan and Isis)
If this record could be considered Candiria's "rush job" or "throw some *** together" record, just imagine what they could put out in six months or a whole year! For God's sake, get this ***ing record and spread the word to people that their favorite record of 2009 just got told to sit in a corner.
Kiss The Lie
is available for download and on double-vinyl from Rising Pulse Records. Do NOT download the iTunes/Amazon/eMusic 2008 versions, they are NOT the final mix/version!
Vinyl - http://risingpulse.com/store/music.html
MP3 - http://risingpulse.com/store/digitaldownloads.html