Caïna have finally returned with a new album and their first full-length on COF Records. Previously the brainchild of one Andy Curtis-Brignell, the man is now joined by Cold Fell vocalist Laurence Taylor and this also marks the first time Curtis-Brignell isn’t tackling his own production as Joe Clayton from No Studio has been drafted in to work his magic.
Setter of Unseen Snares begins with a haunting monologue taken from True Detective and the disparate and ominous guitar work of Curtis-Brignell slowly works its way into view. It’s an atmospheric introduction which sets up a suitably dark mood for the onslaught that’s about to follow.
The album begins proper with I Am the Flail of the Lord and it showcases Caïna at their absolute best. The track opens with a relentless hammering on the drum kit and Curtis-Brignell’s hyper reverberated guitar tone creates an extremely oppressive atmosphere. Partnered with the sickening, phlegm-ridden vocals, this is an extremely intense listening experience but my God is it good.
It’s also worth mentioning that Setter of Unseen Snares is a literal album of two halves. The first is a much darker, faster and generally more aggressive affair. The songs are full of blast-beats and incessant abuse of the guitar. This is Caïna at their heaviest and it’s a bleak yet visceral listening experience.
It isn’t all unbridled noise though; the songs on this side tend to make great use of the quiet/loud dynamic. The songs often break down into more bare-bones passages which are once again thick in oppressive atmosphere. The songs then begin to build slowly to another blast of extremity and it’s absolutely glorious to behold.
For the second side of the record, Caïna indulges in a very different sound. The B-side of Setter of Unseen Snares is taken up entirely by one fifteen minute behemoth called Orphan. When I initially saw the track length I could feel my eyes rolling as I instantly expected a song that was long for the sake of being long, but what I got is actually the highlight of the record.
Orphan is a beautiful song that ebbs and flows in a truly wonderful way. Beginning with a sung section courtesy of Martin from Hateful Abandon, Orphan is more post metal than black metal. The strained vocals sound like a man who’s thrown all his energy and passion into these vocals and it’s a gripping performance. The screaming does return for a heavier passage but it’s the final movement that surprised us the most.
Orphan’s sound expands into a much more euphoric experience that is incredibly uplifting to listen to. It was impossible to predict but Curtis-Brignell and Taylor have created a song that brings the record to a beautiful crescendo. The album is transformed from overbearing darkness into a glorious finale and this makes Orphan one of the best songs in Caïna’s arsenal.
Setter of Unseen Snares is an album of unbridled fury, bleak atmosphere and eventually, shimmering post metal beauty. This is one of the most diverse and brilliantly executed black metal albums I’ve ever had the pleasure of listening to and it deserves to be heard by more than just fans of the genre.
Caïna’s Setter of Unseen Snares is released on the 20th of January 2015 via COF Records. You can pre-order it now.