Let’s flashback to 2018 real quick. That was cool, right? Anyway, that’s when I heard Candy’s first LP, Good To Feel. I remember being absolutely laid the fuck out by this album, mainly because they found a way to keep the hardcore punk DNA quite visible in their sound but were far from a basic, by-the-numbers kind of band. There were metallic, industrial, and harsh noise elements that flowed seamlessly throughout the album along with all of the finger-pointing swagger of a pissed-off generation – it was quite a moment for me. To this day I still cite Candy and Jesus Piece to be my favorite hardcore acts. After an EP the following year, it’s been pretty silent in the Candy camp until now with Heaven Is Here, their Relapse Records debut. This label makes perfect sense for them in my head, and my hope was that regardless of which roster they signed to, the scrappy self-confidence wouldn’t dissipate. So off we go.
The very first that you’ll notice is that when you start the album and the title track “Human Condition Above Human Opinion” begins, there are some harsh noise elements blazing the path for the song to follow. At first, I wasn’t sure how I felt about this, mainly because the current trend of glitchy nu-metal influencing hardcore isn’t quite my bag, and my concern that one of the finest hardcore acts was following that trend sort of scared me. I continued listening, and the more the song went on, the more sense it made. The aggression was still very much intact: the shouts, the drums, the guitars. The noise was there simply to set the thermostat for the album – this was gonna be a cold and mean affair. This was a strong-ass opener that really pulled from the band’s bag of tricks with a lot of what makes them great being on full display. The sludgy groove that rounds out the back half of the song is just pure stank-face inducing.
The tormented feel of Candy’s hardcore never shies away from taking the center stage even when the song tempos and lengths vary. The title track is a shade under three minutes, and its downtempo sections feel like someone is scraping the inside of your eyelids with a rusty fork. It’s caustic and abrasive in all the right ways. There are moments of groove and bounce to remind you that this is a hardcore band after all, but the tilt towards vitriol is hellaciously effective. “Transcend to Wet” is where we’d usually see a bit of a breather on an album like this, but Candy decided to keep their foot on your throat while you strain to suck life into your lungs.
Finding a favorite moment on a record like this will really depend on your mood. For me, it was usually “Hysteric Bliss”, specifically the build at the start before teetering into a solo riff that kicks the song into BPM overdrive. It’s fast, gnarly, rife with vocal hooks and ‘arfs’, and has a nice guitar solo. The energy is just what the doctor ordered for a hardcore record, but it continued to wreck my expectations with the wrinkles and new ideas sprinkled throughout. Closing out the album, the band is leaning way into their industrial and harsh noise influences, most significantly on the sprawling ten-minute closer “Perverse”. If you’re not into this sort of thing you’ll probably find yourself thinking the album is done when “Kinesthesia” wraps up, but for those who crave the cold digital bath of industrial-tinged noise, you’re gonna stick around to the bitter end.
I love watching a band grow, change, and experiment. I personally found the choices Candy made on Heaven Is Here to be refreshing, as they elevated their sound above the vapid and often insipid atmosphere hardcore can have. This is a dense record that thrilled me with every listen. I’m not sure if it will have the same staying power as Good To Feel for me, but I think there will be plenty of life in this album. I can’t wait for it to sink its teeth into all of you.