Friday, April 10, 2009

CANDIRIA: Discography

I remember seeing Candiria when I first started going to shows. At the time I had my standard education in metal through my mastery of Metallica, Slayer, Anthrax, Megadeth, and Testament (always the big 5 in my head at the time) supplemented by the hardcore likes of Hatebreed, Sworn Enemy, Mushmouth and bands of that nature. While I still jam those bands quite frequently, my musical perspective was completely fucked the first time I saw Candiria. Sure, I had heard the thrashing of Slayer, every Kirk Hammet solo, the hardest breakdowns known to man on Satisfaction Is The Death Of Desire ... but none of that seemed as crazy after Candiria combined jazz with death metal.

Looking back now, as a musician, it all makes quite a bit of sense. However, as a 15 year old kid who thought double kick drums were the end-all-be-all of heavy music, my mind was quite perplexed by the shit Candiria was bringing to the table. I specifically remember getting caught in my own mosh on at least 5 different occasions during their set due to their fucked-up time signatures that I did not know existed at the time. Candiria, to this day, remains as the one-and-only band in which I prepared my mosh for prior to attending their shows. You basically had to.

I didn't get into Candiria until around 1999 whenever the band released their Process Of Self.Development full length on the infamous MIA Records (ironic label name). In order to cover the band's process of self-development up until this point in their career, I'm going to switch over to a biography written up by some guy who, up until 2007, ran the Angelfire-hosted Candiria fan page. Mad respect to him for keeping the tradition alive for as long as he did. For a bit of a trip down memory lane of hardcore-on-the-internet prior to unlimited bandwidth, pay your respects to his work right here.

"Have you ever successfully tried to follow one of their songs? I can almost do it but there's always that one bastard riff in every song that I can't get! And obviously you're here to learn more about the band, so I'll stop rambling now and give you some meat about the Brooklyn quintet...

It is 1992, Brooklyn, New York. In a rehearsal studio, Eric Mathews, Chris Puma, Carley Coma, Kenneth Schalk and original bassist Matt Holt come together week after week to dictate the beginnings of what they understand to be music. All five of them were seriously focused on changing the face of heavy music. Inspired from all directions, Candiria was ready to hit the laboratory and experiment with a new musical formula. The center point or foundation, of course, was the consistent element of DANCEABLE MUSIC. From that, the song was to be like a beautifully written novel-an introduction leading to a well defined, in-depth and expansively informative body that brings you smoothly and excitingly through the conclusion and off to the back cover for the "about the author." It would take many years of pain staking labor and commitment to pull this off.

Candiria was growing musically, and had the impetus to move forward but faced a few hurdles... One of them being the issue of a bass player. Candiria had 2 bass players after Matt left in the spring of 1992. It was winter 1994 and the band just watched their 3rd bassist leave and decided to go on without one. They had been playing around the city for the past year and gave out about 300 or 400 copies of their Subliminal. demo to fans and bands as well as sending it off to various record companies, rock venues and management and booking agencies . The band had too much momentum to start looking for a fourth bass player. The first album, Surrealistic Madness was originally warranted to be a demo also, but the band had generated a good enough buzz at that point to interest Too Damn Hype records in releasing their music. The hard work and unique vision was beginning to get recognized.

The second album Beyond Reasonable Doubt was created with the same line-up, and on this album, the bass lines were executed by Eric, and Ken. Still no bass player. Candiria continued to play live shows, but the low end was missing and it just wasn't right..........yet.

The Candiria line-up was forced to make change when Chris Puma became impatient with the bass situation, and for some unknown personal reasons, left the band. Candiria had to let him go.

Candiria then recruited friend John Lamacchia, who was in a band called Dead Air. Since Dead Air was calling it quits, and happened to rehearse in the same studio as Candiria, they asked John to join, and he did. The bass player in Dead Air, Michael MacIvor, had already left the band to play with NYHC pioneers Merauder. MacIvor was honored to play with Merauder at first, but as time passed wanted to go in a more open-ended direction. He was always a fan of Candiria, and when they asked him to join, he couldn't refuse. The five members have now fortified, and remain a constant entity since 1998.

Candiria has two albums to date (EDITOR'S NOTE: this was written just before The Process Of Self.Development was released), both in their own respect are different, yet all contain elements of fusion, metal, ambience, jazz, rap, and urban madness. The sound produced by these cats is one that sincerely stands alone, by itself. Defiant in nature, they break common threads that unify the common 4/4 tempo of many bands today. A major focus for Candiria is the off-beat practice of syncopation. Candiria is just the remedy we need in this world so full of pre-packaged aggression. To be unique in a market bonded by threads of anti-this, and anti-that, and "My life sucks" type songs, is truly something to savor. It almost seems that metal along with all Rock sub-genres combined, has found a complacent bowl of fruit to eat from. The inability to evolve musically, will be the self-destruction of what modern music is today. Candiria will continue to evolve, bringing new and exciting music to its listeners and is something I'll always look forward to, now that I've found FUCKING CANDIRIA!!!"

Picking up where this article leaves off, I shall tell you of the perfection that is The Process Of Self.Development. Essentially serving as a "best of" album from that point in their career, the full length consists of re-recorded tracks from the first two full lengths alongside obscure demo and 7" material. In true Candiria fashion, the band also included new material in order to keep their musical revolution in "constant velocity". Through the acquisition of what was thought to be a legitimate label at the time, the band finally managed to finance a recording worthy of the material that was being put to tape. The album also marked the start of the transition away from the prevelant death metal influences heard primarily in the vocals on the first two albums. Don't get me wrong, there are definitely parts on this third full length offering that put Cannibal Corpse to shame, however quite obviously through the acquisition of a full-time bassist, the group seemed to shift focus moreso onto the groove aspect of the band. That is also not to say that the element was not relevant on previous recordings.

I was lucky enough in this era to see Candiria on multiple occassions despite never getting to see Jamey from Hatebreed and Phil from Irate jump on stage to do their parts as can be seen in the YouTube video above. It was seeming as though "things" were starting to happen for Candiria around this era. A constant touring schedule coupled alongside the demise of MIA Records landed Candiria a deal with Century Media for the release of their next full length, 300 Percent Density.

Despite the once-again flawless nature of this new album, I remember a bit of dissent from the hardcore scene at the time. For the younger kids who may be reading this and not understanding how something as simple as signing to Century Media could cause such a reaction, I don't really have a good explanation for you. Regretfully, at the time whenever a "hardcore" band signed to a "metal" label, talks of sedition instantly arose. This was 2001, Hatebreed had just signed to Universal Records and written the song "You're Never Alone" alongside playing OzzFest and bringing rednecks into "the scene". Looking back I can almost under the apprehension that came with bands getting picked up by Roadrunner, Century Media, and other pseudo-major labels. Candiria's musical offering was untouched by the transition, however.

300 Percent Density was perhaps the pinnacle of Candiria's aggressive music career. While The Process Of Self.Development had all of the hits and guest appearances, there were still tracks on the album that had been written almost 5 years prior to its release. The musicianship on 300 Percent Density had matured ten-fold since the release of their previous album in 1999. Despite the tastefulness that was used in doing so, the band DID introduce the usage of more standard song structures; at times even utilizing repeating choruses. With the release of the "single" from the album, Without Water, I remember realizing that big changes were on the way for Candiria.

Candiria toured relentless with the release of their 300 Percent Density album with acts ranging from the Soul Brains (Bad Brains) to Poison The Well to Cryptopsy to Madball to Shadows Fall. It was amongst this touring, however, that the band was almost taken away due to a severe wreck with a tractor-trailer. I pulled up the following statement made by the band from the incident.

"The five members of the pioneering metal-fusion band Candiria and their tour manager escaped life-threatening injury when their van was rear-ended by a tractor trailer east of Buffalo, New York on Monday September 9th, 2002. The accident occurred at 9:15 am on Interstate 90 in Batavia, New York, when the tractor trailer driver, who was charged with speeding, plowed into the back of the van at full throttle. The van was hauling an equipment trailer, which buffered the blow. Upon impact, the van left the pavement, flipped over four times, then skidded on its roof for several hundred feet before stopping at the side of the center median culvert. Four members of the band were ejected from the vehicle through the shattered side windows. The other two were in the front of the van and were able to crawl from the wreckage.
Candiria drummer Ken Schalk was flown by MediVac helicopter to the nearest trauma unit, located at the Erie County Medical Center, the others followed by ambulance. They all suffered multiple contusions, abrasions and lacerations that required extensive stitching. Schalk was treated for six hours for his injuries, which included a severe cut to the ear. He also suffered a concussion. Guitarist John LaMacchia also sustained a so-called "closed head injury," as well as a broken clavicle and fractured shoulder. Guitarist Eric Matthews suffered two broken ribs and injured knees. Singer Carley Coma was feared to have internal injuries, but escaped with abdominal contusions. Bassist Mike MacIvor suffered a hand injury as well as the bruises, scrapes and cuts they all sustained. Tour manager Kevin Macormick also suffered a torn rotator cuff.

The tractor trailer driver admitted fault and was issued a summons by police at the scene on several charges, including following too close, reckless endangerment and speeding. Candiria's van and all its contents were completely demolished. The equipment trailer was split in two and everything in it destroyed."

The future of Candiria was very uncertain at the time. Members all took part in their various solo and side projects including Ghosts of the Canal, which was featured at the Micro Museum in Brooklyn, NY, in part of a multimedia production "that also features live dancers, videography, and projections". Drummer Kenneth Schalk also played live drums for several jazz groups, some of which featured members who had contributed elements to prior Candiria albums. It was also in this downtime when the band wrote material for their next album, "What Doesn't Kill You...".

While the following is mere speculation, I think it is safe to say that the band's musical progression on their follow-up to 300 Percent Density is what caused the split between the band and Century Media. While the band always managed to make considerable progression between every album, the difference between 300 Percent Density and its successor, What Doesn't Kill You... is quite drastic. While the album still focuses quite strongly on the aggressive aspect of the band on the earlier tracks, the B-side tends to stray moreso into the realms of jazz, hip hop, and even reggae at times. While I personally find this release to be the most listenable album of all the Candiria albums, I think it is safe to say that a large majority of Candiria's fan base felt quite alienated by this release. I would venture to say that the vocals on the album consist of equal parts harsh screaming and clean singing. Personally, I find this album to be yet another pinnacle of the band's song-writing capacity ... yes, I'm illustrating the fact that every album is the band's pinnacle.

As always, the band embarked on considerably varied tours with the release of this album. I was lucky enough to see the band on their stint with Kittie, 36 Crazyfists, and Twelve Tribes. The show was being held at one of the larger venues in Pittsburgh that I was not particularly fond of and, in turn, would not donate any finances to. I went down in hopes of sneaking in and directly supporting the band with merch purchases to no avail. It was on my way back to my car that I encountered Carley who asked where we were going. I told him my deal of wanting to see Candiria (and Twelve Tribes) without being able to bring myself to give any money to the venue or promoter involved with the show. Without the slightest bit of a second guess, he instructed my friend and I to follow him into the show. We did so, and in turn, got to witness the band perform their new album, What Doesn't Kill You in its almost entirety. Looking back, it was one of the best sets I have ever witnessed and wouldn't have traded it for the world. I digress.

It was not long after this that long-standing guitarists John LaMacchia and Eric Matthews both stepped down. The original intent was for Eric Matthews to temporarily leave for a back surgery whereas John LaMacchia was to permanently step down citing musical differences. The band continued on temporarily with two fill-in guitarists in order to continue with their touring schedule, which included a short-run on the Stillborn Fest. This show was not three months after I had just seen Candiria perform a set of entirely new material. While I was overly exuberant at the prospect of seeing a repeat performance of the newer material, I was even moreso excited whenever the band got on stage and played a set of "old" material exclusively. It truly put into perspective the wide range of capability the band possessed amongst their ranks; even when nearly half of the band were fill-ins.

From this point on, the band seemed to dissolve in front of everyone's eyes. Guitarist Eric Matthews was the first to leave. As previously stated, the original intent was for him to take a temporary leave of absence in order to facilitate his back surgery. There was never any specific statement made by the band as to his exit other than that it, in turn, yielded the departure of drummer Kenneth Schalk. Bassist Mike MacIvor and vocalist Carley Coma were then left with a nearly completed album without a band to tour on it. Despite the re-addition of long-standing guitarist John LaMacchia, their label, Type-A Records who released their previous full length, would not release the album due to the band's unwillingness to tour without Kenneth Schalk on the shells. The album sat on the shelf for over two years before finally being released by John LaMacchia's new label, Rising Pulse Records.

The album is once again another huge step into the creative world that is Candiria. If you weren't into What Doesn't Kill You, there is a very good chance that you will also not appreciate their latest release, Kiss The Lie. If you gave their previous album an honest chance and took the time to understand its intricacies, then I would highly suggest picking up the beautifully laid-out, gatefolded double LP at Rising Pulse Record's MySpace page. I am specifically not including the Mp3s to this album as the band essentially put this out through their own DIY work ethics and it deserves support for all of the apparent bullshit they had to go through in order to ensure its release. There are also future plans for a collection of 4 limited edition remix LPs entitled Toying With The Insanities. Even if you're not as dedicated of a Candiria as am I, you can also pick up Surrealistic Madness on clear vinyl while you're there.

The band is currently on yet another "indefiniate hiatus" while members state in interviews that interest in the project has been lost. As much as it may be wishful thinking, I would like to believe that the members of Candiria realize the monster of a project that they created can never come to an end. While I am more than content with checking out the various side projects that the members are currently partaking in, the necessity of Candiria is insatiable to me. I'm not going to be content until I get another chance to cut shit up to Faction.

Overall, I think Candiria was summed up by the best following statement made by the webmaster of the Candiria Pit 718 Angelfire Fan Page. "Simply put, take some salt in one hand, and pepper in the other. Bring both your hands together and shake it here's where music and salt part ways. Throw the mixture on the table. Physically, the pepper and salt will mix , forming a ---pepper and salt mix. But musically, after mixing the pepper and salt, the two will miraculously end up where they started.....salt on one side, pepper on the other! (did I confuse you?)"

Check out Spylacopa, ft John LaMacchia
Check out Hope Kills Fear, ft Carley Coma
Check out Ghosts Of The Canal, ft most of Candiria


By the way, if anyone could upload the Mathematics/Down To The Last Element 7" put out by Stillborn Records ... that would complete the discography as far as I know. Any information on other recordings would be greatly appreciated.

OUTSPOKEN: The Current

I'm not sure what I can really say about this record other than that it is perfect. This record has been getting (poorly) ripped off since its been written. Imagine if all of the "passionate" Bridge 9-type bands of today were original, interesting, or legitimate. I'm obviously not a fan of the genre, but this record is essential listening for anyone remotely down with the core. I'll go out on a limb and say that it was the best release that New Age Records ever released. This is the CD version which includes 5 songs as opposed to the 3 tracks that fit on the 7" version.

Despite this being available on other blogs, I couldn't pass up writing up a report on it. A better write-up on this record can be found at Zen And The Art Of Face Punching.

Seriously ... the piano at the beginning of the song, "The Current" ... untouchable.