For its eighth album, Brooklyn experimental metalcore band CANDIRIA attempts a concept record. This is a band who survived a van crash on tour and snidely convalesced with its 2004 response album, "What Doesn't Kill You". For its troubles, legal issues followed, along with lineup changes and a temporary sequestering from one another to explore solo work. Six years since the third of the "Toying With the Insanities" remix albums and a couple new lineup additions, "While They Were Sleeping" is the sound of a rejuvenated band in full possession of its rambunctious genre bending.
Carley Coma, the last remnant to hold tenure since 1992, spent a great deal brushing up on characterization and storytelling coming into "While They Were Sleeping", the story of a foiled musician taking on a New York-based monarchy. Guitarist John LaMacchia was reportedly against a concept album at first, yet CANDIRIA turns loose a raging muse whose story fittingly unravels through strategic musical ascension. The longer "While They Were Sleeping" dwells, the louder and angrier it gets. CANDIRIA's jazzy prog maneuvers are more of a supporting cast this time than the central leads; "While They Were Sleeping" is thus a more absorbing endeavor.
The title track initially grazes through REFUSED-esque groove punches and scratchy guitar patterns, i.e. "The Shape of Punk to Come". This is CANDIRIA, however, which means you can expect the song to dive into a metalcore mindset long enough to trick new listeners and leave veteran fans wondering what fiddly maneuver is on the way. That manifests in the form of a foot-tapping jazz-lounge interlude. Afterwards, "Mereya" ramps the same MR. BUNGLE jazz shakes within its accumulating metalcore passages.
"Wandering Light" chews and grinds in CONVERGE fashion, threatening, at all times, to pull the trigger, but the riffs are restrained behind Carley Coma's ascending yelps. This time, the nutty switcheroo comes in the form of a trippy alt rock segue, i.e. CANDLEBOX via the "Happy Pills" album. The heavy huffing thereafter swells the song, collected by the 2:36 ersatz of "The Cause", where Carley Coma's distorted screeching raises the agitation even higher. John LaMacchia and new addition Julio Arias's tempered guitar rolls hold steady over "The Cause", which teeters on a perpetual brink.
"Forgotten" is a glossy screamo number, straightforward for a band that routinely finds itself down more detours than a backwoods repaving project. This gives CANDIRIA opportunity to noodle with the throbbing "One of You Will Betray Me", swapping between its metalcore stitch effects and alt swirls. New drummer Danny Grossarth giddily dances overs his snares, navigating CANDIRIA through a balmy progression.
"Opaque"'s woozy lilt is palliative and without embellishment. Yet its existence is still meant to tantalize and show how broadly in scope this band thinks. Its buckling reverie is devoid of static, even if there's a subtle disconcertment over what CANDIRIA can possibly do to it. It's the head games this band plays with its audience that keeps them interesting.
CANDIRIA is seemingly limitless; the psych punk measures of "Behind These Walls" taking it another step forward. CANDIRIA leaves its primary metalcore palettes intact and works in its left-of-center variances with less shock value. Considering that this album has a story to tell, it's the drive, more so than the theatrics, that makes it tick.