Brooklyn's Candiria are one of the great "almosts" in modern extreme music history: a restlessly adventurous quintet of individuals bringing a fractious mix of influences to the table… hardcore as much as anything, but also jazz, rap, metal, you name it. While such far flung genre-bending has become almost a cliche in heavy music these days, back in the mid-90's – when Candiria first emerged to a bewildered scene – it was almost unheard of, largely relegated to the emerging post-rock and post-hardcore scenes that themselves would remain unappreciated and much unheard until their influence was acknowledged on the subsequent generation of bands.
Candiria found themselves in the beginning unfairly lumped in with the rap-metal movevment, two genres that the band did indeed intermingle yet represented only two disproportionate facets of a uniquely diverse sound. That marketing didn't hold for long, adherents of rap-metal having no idea what to do with the quintet's kitchen sink sound, but neither did the band make huge inroads into commercial acceptance, settling instead for periodic critic shout outs. Their first shot at semi-stardom came when the band signed to Century Media for 2001's 300 Percent Density – their fourth album to that point – but that uptick in fortunes didn't last long: on tour the following year the band's tour van was rear-ended by an eighteen wheeler, causing the band to flip and four of the band members to be ejected through shattered windows.
Convalescence was extensive. Guitarist Eric Matthews later left the group permanently, largely as a result of these injuries. The next proper Candiria LP wouldn't see daylight until 2004. The aptly named What Doesn't Kill You… was received well but showcased a more streamlined, less experimental version of the band than what fans had come to expect before. 2009's Kiss the Lie was even more risk averse, sounding at times like the regrouped ensemble were attempting to fit in with the metalcore strains popular at the time instead of leading their own charge. Of the two, the former works in spite of the relative dearth of experimentation, while the latter is arguably the most forgettable entry in the Candiria catalog.
Fast forward to 2015, and a rejuvenated new lineup – minus original guitarists Matthews and Chris Puma, who died in 2009 – began gigging around NYC again to rapturous enthusiasm. Obviously, then, we're due for a new album, and here 'tis with While They Were Sleeping, a somewhat back-to-basics affair that effectively melds the semi-mainstream metalcore tendencies of Kiss the Lie with the forward-thinking bouillabaisse of their early sonic template. "One of You Will Betray Me" begins with a quasi-djent riff before cycling through musically simpatico groove metal tropes and even a bass-led jazz interlude. The title track follows the same basic structure – just with more jazz-funk interplay – and Carley Coma's inimitable voice is in full effect throughout, vacillating between clean, melodic hooks and throaty hardcore barks.
While not necessarily the most avant-garde thing the band has ever recorded (that would probably be The Process of Self-Development or one of the volumes of the electronic-oriented Toying with the Insanities volumes) While They Were Sleeping is a strong return statement by a band that has overcome adversity, of both the personal and professional varieties, and re-emerged to stake their claim as genre leaders in the experimental crossover scene. Welcome back, boys.