Published Jan 20, 2015For a decade now, UK-based experimental black metal project Caïna have been toiling away crafting noisy, complex aural violence that engages deeply with what black metal has to offer in terms of power and catharsis. After several albums with Profound Lore and a few years on hiatus, Caïna's fifth full-length release is towering, apocalyptic and as bleak as it is triumphant. A concept record about the last surviving family on earth trying to survive an inevitable asteroid impact, the pits of desolation that this record is able to carve in the listener's heart are unequalled. The record is often chaotic, employing multiple voices welding together elements of drone, post-punk, shoegaze and even dark ambient folk, but there is a lean hunger, a ravenous intelligence to the songwriting that keeps Setter of Unseen Snares as precise as it is merciless.
At its heart Caïna is still a solo project, with founding member and composer Andrew Curtis-Brignell still at the band's conceptual core (he performed all the instruments on record), but its current composition draws upon a wide cast of guests, and live and session members, with Dom Moss on bass, Joe Clayton and Nic Watmough on guitar and drums, respectively, and no fewer than three vocalists in addition to Curtis-Brignell (Michael Ribeiro, Vice Martyr and Laurence Taylor). Somehow, everything fits together perfectly, with jus the right kind of torsion and friction to keep the sound raw and bleeding around the edges.
Perhaps what is most tragic about Setter of Unseen Snares is not the bleakness of the emotional register or the exquisite torturous nature of the instrumentation, but how an extraordinary interview that Curtis-Brignell gave with Kim Kelly at Wondering Sound (in which the multi-instrumentalist declares himself a feminist and tells misogynists to fuck off) kicked off an intense backlash from the grosser parts of the heavy metal internet. Curtis-Brignell and company should be celebrating their extraordinary achievement in peace, not fending off attacks from trolls. Setter of Unseen Snares rises above its context and circumstances and stands as a monument to loss and unshakeable defiance, even in the face of a doomsday asteroid. (Broken Limbs)