Punchy, Driving Female-Fronted Sounds From Portugal’s Kandia

by delarue

Portuguese heavy rock band Kandia take their name from a term for blinding light. Their new album Quaternary – streaming at Spotify – blends punchy intensity with trippy keyboards. The riff-centric attack looks back to European acid rock of the late 70s, with a techy sheen from ten years later.

Ominous suspense-film keys and strings rise through the album’s brooding intro, Anthropocene, then the band launch into Obliterate, a swaying mix of metal crunch and sweeping, gothic-tinged 80s sounds.

Guitarist André Da Cruz builds a brief maze of multitracks before frontwoman Nya Campos Cruz brings in a silky electronic atmosphere that disappears just as quickly in the roaring chorus of The Flood: “How long, how long til it gets here?” Her English is strong, and she seems like a perfectly good singer; too bad that there’s autotune popping up awkwardly when least expected.

Bassist Bernardo Lima and drummer Hugo Ribeiro work a jagged Rage Against the Machine style rhythm in Fight or Flight. Then the band blend gravelly growl and an increasingly dissociative ambience in Until the End.

“We are waking up, we are planting the seed,” Cruz wails over a syncopated, machinegunning kickdrum attack in the defiant Turn of the Tide. The group go back to funkmetal guitar and freeze-dried bass, with flashes of death metal and hip-hop, in the next track, Pbp. They follow that with Deathwish, an ill-fated mashup of gritty riffage and corporate urban pop.

Murderers, featuring saxophonist Jorgen Munkeby, is a more straightforward hip hop-flavored metal hybrid. Other bands might do A New Dawn as a roaring anthem; Kandia switch out big chords for a dust-devil dance. “The green has turned to grey,” Cruz observes over plucky, echoey U2 guitars in the final cut, Holocene. “Is this what we are?”.