Candiria The Coma Imprint
Grade
A-
 
Also Try
Sepultura
Thought Industry
Voivod

Intense. Harsh. Experimental. Ecclectic. Intricate.

These words seem largely contradictory, but when describing the anomaly that is Candiria, they seem rather appropriate. Candiria find themselves at an odd cross-roads between hardcore power/thrash metal, experimental/progessive rock and jazz. With the 2 CD set of The Coma Imprint, the band presents a full-fledged impressive effort, along with a sample of what they want to do with their own music label, aptly titled C.O.M.A. Imprint. The New York-based five piece composed of Carley Coma (vocals), Eric Matthews (guitar), John LaMacchia (guitar), Michael MacIvor (bass) and Kenneth Schalk (drums) features additional vocals (Jorge Rosado and Ryan Murphy), and musicians performing piano, didgeridoos, trumpets and even pipe organ on the album. While there is a grand range of elements present, make no mistake that the act leans primarily towards metal - Carley Coma's throaty yells and growls make no attempt at being pleasant.

The album opens up with Paradigm Shift, which presents itself in almost a nu-metal fashion, with hip-hop vocals and groove-heavy guitars, but before you're a minute into the song, it evolves into a progressive metal instrumental with off-beat bass lines and ecstatic drum beats. By about a minute and a half, the song has moved into what Candiria really is - harsh, ripping vocals, thrashy guitars that beat you over the head and a presence that just demands attention. And then it breaks into a small piano vignet only to be replaced with more thunderous guitar/bass groove. Year One follows this up with some powerful groove in what may prove to be one of the more straightforward tracks on the album. But even that isn't saying much as the song still throws a lot of different aspects at you, including moments reminiscent of early Voivod.

Before track three, Peel This Strip And Fold Here, you may think you have a grasp on Candiria. But, when you get to this point, the progressive jazz instrumental may throw most listeners for a loop. Especially if you're under the delusion that this is primarly a metal act. Track four, Faction, shifts the focus back to a more brutal, hammer-to-head action, featuring a wonderful riff that turns up about a minute and a half into the song. Track five throws another curve at the listener, albiet one that may not be as impressive - Candiria does their take on Wu-Tang Clan's Bring The Pain, which is good, but really sticks out like a sore thumb amongst the rest of the album's finer pieces.

Riding The Spiral opens into track seven, Tribes, which sounds eerily like some of the tribal metalwork that Sepultura did on their Roots album. Primary Obstacle brings the album back to the more mainstream thrashy metal, while offering shifting moods and tempos. Divided opens with a keyboard line that fiegns at a more casual track, only to be surplanted by some powerful metal, which then shifts into loose bass and hornwork for a moment until returning to the vicious power metal. While it feels all over the place, Divided is really a fine example of the functional schism that Candiria creates with their work. The final track, R-Evolutionize-R, is a lengthy instrumental that's slow to build and borrows some elements from Neurosis before lulling into a Santana-esque guitarwork.

Disc 2 is less of an album and more of a sampler disc of acts that are to appear on the C.O.M.A. Imprint label. If you were impressed by the actually album, you may just give the second disc a listen to just to see what else there is to offer. The songs prove to be good in their own right and dip from different genres, like hip hop (Blue Suede Timbs, Let The Mic Go), electronica (Collective Unconscious, Hypnotic Oceans) and dark ambient industrial (That Which Survives, Richard Dreyfuss). Since the album goes for regular price, the second disc may never see the inside of your CD player, which is no great loss.

One might think that the very different elements and constant shifts would render this album difficult to listen to, but the band successfully manages to keep everything together in a tightly nit package. While this album may be too much for those who'd rather have their metal (or jazz) straightforward, anyone who enjoys something a little off-the-beaten path (like Faith No More and Thought Industry) should surely check this out.

- - Vane

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