Candy – It’s Inside You


Candy aim to make heavy music “that’s interesting to people who might love Youth of Today and might also love My Bloody Valentine or the Stone Roses. I think that’s hard to do within the hardcore scene, but we try to do it because that’s the shit we like,” said Zak Quiram in a 2019 Revolver interview. They signed to Relapse Records two years later and released their sophomore effort in 2022, finding their name mentioned in the same sentence as Vein.fm and Gulch on more than one occasion. We’ve seen how the influence of The Stone Roses can destroy a hardcore band’s pedigree with the disastrous Genghis Tron comeback of 2021, but Candy keep their Madchester inspiration to a minimum on album number three and rip through the speakers like British soldiers sacking the Chinese Imperial Gardens during the Second Opium War of 1860.

The first half of this record is a superb navigation through chaos. Opener, ‘eXistenZ’, is just over a minute in length, but it sets the tone for the LP in style. Here, a menacing bass growls at you in preparation for a wave of aggressive thrash riffs and temple-throbbing shout vocals. Listen to the power of the staccato moments as they sock you in the mouth. Candy tease until the last ten seconds before they deliver the half-timing groove that makes hardcore so thrilling. And there’s no doubt that these boys are a hardcore unit. ‘Short-Circuit’ is Earth Crisis with the muscle of the mid-90s Prong records, and it’s heavier than a monsoon in Sri Lanka. Think of it as thrash metal with the biceps of a steroid abuser. Can you feel your body being slammed against a wall?

Code Orange are the contemporary artist most people think of when hardcore and industrial appear in the same sentence. You can now add Candy to that list. Nailbomb would be proud of the violent groove in ‘You Will Never Get Me’. The two-beat drum gives it a danceable vibe. Your mind imagines Knocked Loose being remixed by Front 242 until the abrupt threat of a breakdown comes from nowhere at 01:20. Yet they prolong the suspense for the remainder of the song and refuse to strip it down for the mosh pit – they want you to stomp in your jackboots rather than slam your body. By contrast, ‘Love Like Snow’ suggests they listened to The Body’s back catalogue before writing this track and challenged themselves to incorporate a synthesised dream pop element into the chaos. Quiram sees no need to change his style for this song, which often has a shade of Zach de la Rocha in it.

Candy’s electronics are not always employed with a clear vision on this album. The title-track sounds like they remixed their own song and plugged the gaps with Ministry’s trademark industrial thrash riffing. Here, the constant threat of a Prodigy big beat in between the action leaves you with as much confusion as fear. ‘Dehumanize Me’ is more successful. This is what Terror would sound like if you handed their master tapes to Ministry’s Al Jourgensen – it’s a recipe for a bloodbath.

The band are much more comfortable in the crunchy hardcore shoulder drops of ‘Faith 91’, which begins as an angry doom metal intro like Day of Suffering warming up for a riot. It seems Quiram’s solution to cleanse his stomach is to fill it with bleach. A gargling bass holds the chaos together and lays the outlines for the guitars to plot their chunky grooves. Can you feel your nostrils widening and the furrows on your forehead stretching?

It’s Inside You would be a strong contender for a standout record of 2024 if it didn’t end so poorly with two ill-conceived experiments. ‘Dancing to the Infinite Beat’ is directionless electronic filler. This is what you get when you give technology to a hardcore band who have a limited understanding of its capabilities. Posturing like The Prodigy in closing track, ‘Hypercore’, is a strange way to end an album. Fortunately, they race from track one to ten with few superfluities and remind us in ‘Dreams Less Sweet’ that they can do hardcore as well as any of the modern bruisers. If you have any doubts, listen to the digital death metal fury of ‘Terror Management’ with its d-beats and intimidating vocal threats.

Who bothers with the last two songs on Ministry’s classic Psalm 69 album? Even if you don’t, you know it’s a thrilling album, and the same applies here.

JVB


Verdict


Release Date: 07/06/2024

Record Label: Relapse Records

Standout tracks: Short-Circuit, Love Like Snow, Faith 91

Suggested Further Listening: Ministry – Psalm 69: The Way to Succeed and the Way to Suck Eggs (1992), Prong – Cleansing (1994), Knocked Loose – You Won’t Go Before You’re Supposed To (2024)