CANDY - Heaven Is Here (Cover Artwork)


Heaven Is Here (2022)

Relapse Records

Richmond, Virginia’s Candy are an interesting proposition. Emerging from the famously fertile East coast town 5 years ago, this, their second record sees them signed to goliaths of the heavy world, Relapse Records. Given that their recorded output to this point amounts to a demo/EP and then 2018’s Good To Feel which clocks in at less than 18 minutes, it’s a pretty big deal for Relapse to snap them up. But then those guys know what they’re doing. Their current roster includes such heavy music luminaries as Pig Destroyer, Wolves In The Throne Room, Gatecreeper and Full Of Hell - as well as a number of extreme music legends. So what was it about CANDY that made Relapse reach for the chequebook?

As I say, CANDY are unquestionably interesting. A hardcore band first and foremost, but there is a whole lot more going on beyond that. This record is wilfully obnoxious. It is combative, aggressive and wants to fuck you up. And for you to know you’ve been fucked up. For a start, it’s around half an hour long. Short in general terms, but almost double the length of the debut. Is that a good idea when the material is so incredibly malevolent? In this instance, I would say that yes, it is. Not least of all because the final 10 minutes are a single song. Bear in mind that no song on the debut broke the 3-minute barrier and you’ll begin to realise how much of a departure this is, compositionally. But when you’ve had the 9 tracks that precede it, in all of their baffling, bruising glory, then a 10-minute track doesn’t actually seem that odd.

A little more about what’s packed into those 9 songs. Well, there is grind, D-beat, noise rock, industrial, crust punk and pretty much everything else you can name at the end of the spectrum that strays into the nihilistic. Because that’s a word that could have been created specifically with this record in mind. At points I’d go even further in actual fact. I Might be inclined to say sadistic. For example, there are multiple points across the record that feel like they’re solely designed to hurt you. In the magnificently titled “World Of Shit”, there is a passage about halfway through that employs the most violent squall of guitar I think I’ve ever heard committed to a record. It’s the aural equivalent of being sliced up with a box cutter (Stanley knife for UK readers), having your skin peeled off and then being rolled in salt. It is so utterly malicious that I can’t help but be in awe of it. It’s moments like that when you realise the inherent irony in CANDY’s name and their approach to naming their records. If you had no prior knowledge for example, and you wanted to make a guess at what a record called Heaven Is Here by a band called CANDY would sound like, it would pretty much be the polar opposite of this.

But you’re hopefully at least a little curious about that epic album closer, right? I can whole-heartedly say it fits entirely with the content that builds up to it. The track itself is a malignant, avant-garde, noise rock nightmare. I say that with a huge amount of respect for it, because it does have clearly discernible movements, audible textures and complexities that I simply cannot begin to fathom in terms of how they were actually made, and on top of all of it, I find myself listening to it; not with my teeth clenched and white knuckles (as is the case with some of the record), but with an enquiring mind. What has brought the minds of those involved to the point that they have brought this into existence? There is a deep, profound misanthropy that seeps from the pores of this record and this fascinating, initially tortuous closer is maybe the ideal way to feel the fire die and the embers dim.

I’m not going to pretend I’m going to be reaching for this record all the time. It simply takes too much out of me. But like Lingua Ignota’s Caligula or Scott Walker’s The Drift, those experiences are often the most eye-opening. I deliberately stop short of saying ‘rewarding’ because that’s not what this record is aiming for. But in terms of achieving what I believe it wants to, then it does it extraordinarily well. It will just take a healthy dose of resilience to handle. More so than a lot of people will be willing to commit.