Caïna’s career trajectory has taken them through many different aural climes. While for the most part the band, helmed by Andrew Curtis-Brignell, has centred on black metal and maintained it as a foundation, Caïna’s branches have grown into so many different gardens at this stage that keeping up with the presumably mad mind of Curtis-Brignell is a heavy task unto itself.
In 2011, they seemingly called it a day with Hands That Pluck, the Profound Lore-released, black metal swansong, which was an exhilarating piece of work and more than satisfying tombstone on a series of records that tested the listener from raw, caustic black metal to scents of a more post-BM variety.
This break-up, if it ever really was one to begin with, eventually turned into comeback brought us to 2013’s Litanies of Abjection; a stark departure from anything that bore the Caïna name before, venturing into a weird world of experimentalism and electronics, sometimes invoking Nick Cave, sometimes invoking harsh noise.
Caïna were back but they weren’t giving you a chance to get comfortable. The demo tape, Earth Inferno, returned to raw old school BM, much like the sounds heard on the band’s very early work. Some EPs and split followed but the endgame was always a new album, which brings us to the dawn of 2015 and Setter of Unseen Snares, an album that, whichever you look at it, is another confounding shift for the band.
Clocking in at just 33 minutes, Setter of Unseen Snares manages to squeeze a great deal of activity into its terse running time. Firstly, the intro track samples True Detective with Matthew McConaughey’s speech on human extinction. It’s a little hokey if truth be told but its aim is quite clear in setting a hopeless and misanthropic tone for this record. ‘I am the Flail of the Lord’, first track proper, which is similar for the rest of the record (save for the final outing), truly gets this record on the way.
Each of these four two-to-five minute barrages easily pack a punch and see flourishes of punky death metal infect its black metal body. Specifically there’s a USBM to be heard in the riffing with of touches older Nachtmystium and Krieg at play here. Never ones to rest on one formula though, Caïna throw a fresh curve ball with Setter of Unseen Snares’ curtain call, the 15 minute ‘Orphan’.
It’s almost clichéd to refer to a final track as a breathtaking piece of work as that is generally what a final song should be – the final salvo, a crescendo and climax. That’s exactly what ‘Orphan’ is. Happily ditching its coarse BM vocals for a moment, ‘Orphan’ begins with slow lethargic riffs and towering clean vocals, almost reminiscent of traditional doom bands in their grandiose scope, all the while the distressing atmosphere maintains a distinctly sorrowful vibe.
Scratching and crawling in ambition, we’re soon returned to hail of blastbeats and vitriolic vocals, peppered with an eerie sense of melody, which invokes the spirits of early Altar of Plagues. ‘Orphan’ is, and we’re returning to this adjective, an exhilarating trek that shows Curtis-Brignell has many more strings left to his bow.
The album’s shorter tracks are impressive in themselves and make up the one half of the album but they are dwarfed by its closer a great deal, though it is certainly not a one song album. It does however feel like Caïna are closing one door to open another.