The first chapter is entitled "Dead Bury the Dead" which comes at you like a rabid and ravenous pit-bull, foaming with Eric Matthew's trademark rubber-band riff-ery and of course Kenneth Schalk's nothing less than godly frenetic fills. "The Nameless King" begins with a Tool-esque space-out before bouncing into an amazingly vast chorus featuring the surprise of the album, the amazing singing voice of Carley Coma, who knew? While still utilizing the hip-hop and reggae influenced vocal rhythm patterns from previous efforts, he has dropped the growls and screams of old in exchange for rough but tuneful shouting which proves highly effective. "Blood" is the most traditional Candiria tune on the album, all aggression-stalking and stumbling guitars tearing just enough piranha-bite-sized holes into your flesh to bleed you dry within seconds, and after cleverly resurrecting an old ambient theme from the first album, returning to pick the bones clean.
"Remove Yourself" is the monster though, wandering in on a Mastodon-ish lead lick, before hitting a reggae verse which explodes into a massive AOR chorus ala newer Killswitch Engage or classic V.O.D. . Carley's singing continually impresses me on this track, I have been following this band since their first 7" and I never knew he had it in him. They should really capitalize on this tune, make it a single and rake in the bucks, it is total radio-rock but with the Candiria level of musical sophistication, the track is elevated to transcendental pop glory. The first four tracks set the pace for the rest of the album as the band alternates between the style they became known for and these expansive radio songs. Of course, there is the obligatory hip-hop track, "9mm Solution," which is definitely one of the best tracks in this style they have done, and finally on the last track, "The Rutherford Experiment" a nice extended jazz 'n' roll-out to close the album.
On paper, this album could have been a huge disappointment. If you had told me my favorite band was about to drop the harsh vocals and experimental leanings then write some conventional rock tunes, and adopt elements of many of their lesser peers, I would have suffered the musical equivalent of a broken heart. This is Candiria though, and my faith in their musical abilities and creativity is well-rewarded on this album. This is the sort of album the band needed to make, strong yet smooth, dark yet life-affirming. Here is to hoping What Doesn't Kill You..., as good an album as it is, is a one-off anomaly in the Candiria discography, as this band is truly at their best dictating the future of heavy music, not sitting on their laurels waiting for others to catch up. That said this album is immensely heavy and involving and I am super-impressed by the band's ability to cohesively blend every musical or sonic element under the sun into their one-band 'true-fusion' genre.
So no, this is not Candiria's 'Black Album', they may have changed their approach, they may be shooting for a larger audience, but they have not sold out their souls which are imprinted on each of the 10 tracks presented here. Think The Real Thing, Pork Soda or 'Aenima; this is powerful and deep heavy music for the masses, if you are too tuff or underground to handle that, then its your loss, not theirs, and not mine.