When it comes to metal and heavy music in general, fans are pretty used to the idea of a band that, at best, changes or re-arranges elements of their formula, and at worst sells out, suppressing large portions of their musical formula in order to reach a larger audience. Few would argue that such a thing happened to Candiria with their 2003 release “What Doesn’t Kill You…” in which the band basically reinvented themselves as a slightly quirky metal-core band, almost entirely ignoring the fusion of metal, hardcore, jazz, hip-hop and ambient that made them so distinctive and successful in the first place. (The jury is still out on the group’s latest release, Kiss the Lie). But when a group’s defining albums are of such consistent quality as Candiria’s, you almost want to cut them some slack. Process of Self Development is one of those albums, creating a vital listening experience not just by authentically combining all of the aforementioned genres, but by layering them in different configurations that make almost every minute of this album fresh and unprecedented, even 10 years later.
My enthusiasm came something close to gushing when I wrote about this group during our Jazz Metal special, so I’ll try to keep it somewhat briefer here – basically, Candiria will destroy you. The instrumentalists of the group are all jazz-trained musicians, which enables such audacious shifts like the one at the beginning of Pull, in which the group moves from a serpentine hard-bop section (complete with trumpet solo) right into the hardcore-inspired meat of the track, complete with heavily rhythmic riffing. Vocalist Carley Coma employs some truly demonic growls and screams throughout the track, yet pairs it with the rhythmic diction of hip-hop, allowing each utterance to fit smoothly around the instrumental backdrop. Coma is also a capable rapper, and stands well amongst several other Brooklyn rappers on the next track, Method of Expression, a purely hip-hop track with a live beat by the band. Tracks like Matter.Anti.Matter demonstrate the band in full on jazz mode, with guest trumpet and saxophone parts amongst the drum, bass and electric piano rhythm section – here, they demonstrate their ability to work fluidly around a loose structure. Tracks like Onefortyeight and Leaving the Atmosphere provide the group some purely improvisational ground to explore that often reaches into ambient territory with minimal repetition. And longer tracks like Temple of Sickness and The Process of Self Development demonstrate the band’s ability to abstract the qualities of hardcore and metal in among their jazz and spoken-word elements, creating cohesive compositions that never lack in either inspiration or execution.
It is truly a pleasure to find an album where ambition is realized so flawlessly. Thanks to the tremendous control of each of the instrumentalists, each song can move fluidly between various elements, without anything sounding strained or out of place – improvisation and looser sections transition fluidly into precision riffs and breakdowns, providing each track with incredible momentum. Carley Coma has such a diverse bag of tricks and employs them smartly, utilizing such a full range of harsh vocals as well as a handful of post-production effects that it is difficult to mistake one track for another by its vocal performance. It seems even Candiria itself, let alone the group’s peers in avant-garde metal, was intimidated by the standard set by this album, and was forced to disengage in some way. I only hope that Candiria’s earliest albums can be reissued and rediscovered, so that more forward-thinking groups can learn from this shining example.
Release: August 3, 1999
Label: Rising Pulse
Avantgenre: Polymorphous Jazz-Crust Fusion
Origin: United States
Official site: http://myspace.com/candiria
Review online since: 18.08.2009 / 21:23:17
01 – Three Times Again