CANDY Sweeten Their Righteous Rage on 'Heaven Is Here'
Published Jun 21, 2022CANDY's music emanates the feeling of wandering down a deserted alleyway, not knowing what strange faces lurk in the darkness around you. The Virginia-based hardcore hellions like to keep a web presence as shadowy as the music itself: after releasing 2018 debut Good to Feel and a couple of singles shortly afterwards, it was as if the band disappeared entirely. Then in early May of this year, a music video for a track titled "Human Condition Above Human Opinion" appeared on CANDY's YouTube channel. Alongside animator Nikita Gorshkov's monstrous visuals — which one might find reminiscent of old horror videogame franchises like Silent Hill and Resident Evil — was a promise: listeners could expect a new album in less than two months.
New album Heaven Is Here finds CANDY swapping out their brutal breakdowns in favour of sounds more noisy and dreadful. It's shown best on closing track "Perverse," a sinister ten-minute soundscape that incorporates harsh, droning static, drawn-out guitar notes and muddled, reverb-heavy wailing from vocalist Zak Quiram; apart from being an ambient nightmare, it is also unlike anything else the band have ever put out. "Kinesthesia" shows CANDY's willingness to push boundaries in a different way, made of fifty percent industrial techno and fifty percent hyper-distortion, making for one hundred percent chaos.
Seasoned hardcore listeners may not love this avant-garde approach, yearning instead for something in a similar vein of the breakdown-heavy Good to Feel, but CANDY still deliver a solid handful of unrelenting, uptempo jolts. The unexpected turn taken in "Hysteric Bliss" is a prime example of this, and its sheer intensity — accompanied by a manic guitar riff — makes for an album highlight.
Its otherworldly sounds and title aside, the themes explored on Heaven Is Here feel far too familiar. Not unlike Good to Feel, every song on Heaven Is Here is imbued with anti-authoritarian rhetoric and an enraged plea for the complete abolishment of the police state. The band make this clear right away on aforementioned opener "Human Condition Above Human Opinion," as Quiram belts out lyrics like "Fuelling engine of destruction / Civilized world devoid of function" and, at the song's climax, "Forcing others into submission / Human condition above human opinion." CANDY's rage is not devoid of purpose; the way they wear their progressive politics on their sleeve can be paralleled with Dallas thrash metal band Power Trip.
Of course, something must be said about the album cover, which contrasts heavily against the album's title. The question remains: is this heaven? Perhaps CANDY are trying to show listeners a distorted version of heaven, as might be hinted at by a song title like "Hysteric Bliss." But there is an even more likely answer that ties into the concept of authoritarian control in a world of late-stage capitalism. Perhaps heaven is here after all, and we're navigating the music from the perspective of those who couldn't get in. (Relapse)