Candy burst into our consciousness with 2017’s heavily acclaimed Candy Says and cemented themselves with Good to Feel in 2018.
Those records are squarely D-beat informed hardcore punk, filtered through a lens of modern heaviness that was popular at the time.
Their second full length, Heaven is Here, leans more into those heavy influences and adds a fair bit of metal to the mix.
Most hardcore bands who sign to bigger labels make more accessible sounding records compared to their previous output. Candy’s Relapse Records debut bucks that trend, sending the band further down the rabbit hole.
These new ideas don’t take long to show up. Album opener, “Human Condition Above Human Opinion,” has a few tremolo picked riffs that are notably different from anything Candy’s tried before.
The first three songs in general introduce a lot more metallic guitar playing, as well as more meandering song structures than the punk boilerplate stuff making up most of the band’s previous output.
“Price of Utopia” is the first track where Candy calls back to their punk roots in any meaningful way. Still, this song and others like it on the record have an added layer of effects and digital brutality that set them apart from most hardcore or hc influenced death metal.
This record is a patchwork of late '80s/early '90’s metal strained through the lens of modern hardcore. Candy certainly isn’t the first band to splash around in the gene pool between D-beat punk and extreme metal. More than a few parts on this record, like the 2-step riff on “Hysteric Bliss," were ripped right from the Napalm Death playbook.
I have to imagine 'Scum' and 'Harmony Corruption' were on heavy rotation during Heaven is Here’s writing process.
There are three songs on this record with entirely digital instrumentation. I would personally classify the first two as industrial metal. They work pretty well, displaying elements you can find all over the record. They maintain the same intensity and use a lot of the same musical tropes, like blast beats and heavily affected vocals. Then there’s “Perverse," the 10-minute harsh noise closer.
I can say, as someone without strong feelings on noise music, this track skips the super irritating moments and provides a decent background din.
Candy’s experimentation and evolution beyond straightforward hardcore hardly comes as a surprise. They’re a band who closed their last record with a song that drew comparisons to the Lemonheads. They’re a band whose merch designs and album art stuck out to the point where it became a topic of conversation.
They obviously have a diverse palette of interests and influences. I don’t think they had any interest in making “Good to Feel part 2." The Relapse signing should have indicated that. Still, my favourite parts of Heaven is Here are the stompy punk riffs. The metal leanings are creative, but the D-beat is the bread and butter.
Let’s speculate on how Candy’s fans will receive this: I can see a divide—kids who bought every Triple B record in 2018 may not be interested in the new direction, whereas fans who were drawn to Candy’s Japanese and D-beat influences might pick this up more easily.
I could see this possibly playing well with heavy kids because it has all the chaos of something like Vein.fm or Code Orange. I could also see those kids not getting it because there are no spin-kick breakdowns. This doesn’t have nu-metal influences. It has old metal influences.
I’m interested to see where this falls in the landscape of metal and hardcore. It’s blasty, ugly, manic-sounding music that sacrifices likability for sheer intensity. Good to Feel had moments like that, but it also had sneakily catchy songs like “Lust for Destruction” and “Human Target." Heaven is Here never hits those songwriting highs. That may or may not have been a conscious decision.
Regardless, Candy’s new record is true to their ethos of boundary pushing. Time will tell if this effort has a lasting impact, or if this relatively well-crafted record gets labeled a sophomore slump.