Candy: a hardcore band that seem to explore being different from traditional hardcore without abandoning the bones of it. Not just because they require some extra search terms to find their history, but because Candy kicks in the cracks of basic hardcore beats makes way for new additions like ‘80s action-movie synth scores and whips of hypercore.

Their third record It’s Inside You, via Relapse Records and Co-produced by Quick and Uniform’s Ben Greenberg, is twelve energetic, digital-coated songs with features from Integrity’s Aaron Melnick, Angel Du$t’s Justice Tripp, and Trash Talk’s David Gagliardi. It starts off with “eXistenZ” and just from the title’s spelling, I know this is going to take a turn from the raw intensity of grittier previous 2022 record Heaven is Here.

Immediately we hear a synth intro reminiscent of running through a cyberpunk city, combat drugs ripping through your veins. The song as whole is upbeat and melodic and the lyrics are futuristic in their own style with outro drums folding over into “Short-Circuit” and just as I start to think they’re sitting back into an older sound again, the synth picks back up for Justice’s feature. “It’s Inside You” delivers record scratches in the background and violently tosses me back into 2000s nu metal and “Love Like Snow” sounds like a song that never made it onto Turnstile’s GLOW ON. That’s the beauty of Candy, they’ve got a heavy grip on the ability to incorporate experimental and guitar pop bands like Physical TV and The Stone Roses with brisk, tough drums. Sculpting these songs with clay from wildly different genres introduce hardcore listeners to soundscapes they would likely never venture into on their own. 

“Dehumanize Me” brings back the simplicity of an angry hardcore song that I love, giving politically-driven shouts of “Mechanical warfare!” while “Faith 91” brings in echoing “bleghs” , techy guitar slides and another moment of inspiration: “The faith is strong within myself”. “Terror Management” is the third song in the album’s cadence switch from a video game’s dream sequence to a nightmare fighting match. Rather than hurling listeners onto an unpredictable rollercoaster of emotions, each song is strategically placed and they’ve built up to this section flawlessly. “Dreams Less Sweet” and “Silent Collapse” have similar chugging and although a smidge less aggressive, not any less powerful. 

It’s after “Silent Collapse” where I have to check I haven’t accidentally switched to my 2008 Myspace playlist as the blown-out speaker static sound of hypercore truly takes over. Speed increasing, Zak Quiram’s vocals pivot in and out of each ear and I start to think about how many mainstream bands have started making moves with cyber soundscapes (Bring Me The Horizon’s latest release comes to mind) as “Hypercore” assaults me. Even after a few listens I’m not sure how to feel about these last two.

The long forgotten thoughts of my Livejournal and neon pants start to bubble up but before the horrifying Brokencyde alarms take hold, I find solace in the discomfort. It’s a signal that It’s Inside You is exactly what Candy is shooting for, refreshingly novel and distinct.

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