Published Jan 01, 2006If there were a jazz metal sub-genre, Brooklyn, NY's Candiria would be its sole denizen. Often roped in under the progressive metal umbrella, the quintet's specific gravity leans more toward Buddy Rich and John Coltrane than Dream Theater and Cynic. "The bottom line is the freedom," according to bassist Michael MacIvor. "The experimentation and the ability to improvise those are the biggest things. It all basically came from my drummer Kenny [Schalk], who exposed everyone to jazz and made us realise what a beautiful art form it is."
The band's second album, 1997's Beyond Reasonable Doubt (on Too Damn Hype), won Candiria a blurb in Rolling Stone magazine as one of the "Ten Most Important Heavy Bands." But the group aren't about to rest on their laurels, as evidenced by their latest platter, 300 Percent Density (Century Media). "You can sit there and play power chords and play lightning-fast and different, but the biggest thing about our music is that you never know what's going to happen," explains MacIvor.
Like Sweden's Meshuggah, Candiria melds disparate elements of a more manic King Crimson and Mahavishnu Orchestra with multiple thrashings of Coalesce and Cattlepress. MacIvor relishes breaking down traditional boundaries. "As much structure and rules as there are when you're learning and studying jazz, a real jazz musician will tell you, Learn the rules, then throw them out the window.' That's what I love about it, and that's why we incorporate it so much into our music."
The record is not all fusion, however; with every odd cadence, there are equal amounts of hardcore, hip-hop, and experimental ambience, all bound together by Candiria's consummate musicianship. "Even if we're not playing a jazz bit, our rhythmic structure, time signatures, some of the chords the guitarists are using and the way we build it up are all from a jazz influence. So even if it's not obvious jazz, there's still a lot of jazz influence to it."
Formerly of New York metalcore enthusiasts Merauder, MacIvor is now the band's biggest proponent for the music's greater good. "The world is almost like a parallel to jazz: constant evolution with a heavy emphasis on improvisation. That's why we're so into it. Candiria's role in this scene is not to copy or to be what everybody else is, but to help people to be inspired."