Having recently gotten around to watching True Detective, (I know, long overdue) I was able to place the quote from Rust Cohle that opens the “Introduction” track to Caïna‘s newest release and sixth studio album, Setter of Unseen Snares. This was particularly fortunate, as the chosen quote has layered undertones and themes that anyone else who’s seen the show will surely shudder to think about. Caïna knows how to set a mood, and it’s not uncommon for their records to start off with well-placed, well-thought-out samples like this one.
The six tracks and 33 minutes that make up Setter of Unseen Snares are very focused and well-edited. It’s a shorter album than some of its predecessors, but still focuses primarily on the A-side/B-side theory of songwriting. And at first glance, it appears to be a black metal album through and through, complete with blast beats and a dark, brooding album cover.
But as tends to be the case with Caïna albums, there’s much more here than meets the eye. Some elements seem almost progressive, though not as much as in the past. For example, the fifth track “Applicant/Supplicant” opens like many other driving black metal tracks, yet in under five minutes, manages to employ a few genre blends. This is something you’ll find across the album, with influences ranging from goth, to post-punk, to doom, to sludge and more.
Notably, Setter is also the rare Caïna album that sees mastermind Andy Curtis-Brignell act more as role-player than fearless leader. A wide range of other musicians play key parts in the project this time out, from production collaborator Joe Clayton, to guest vocalists Vice Martyr (Hateful Abandon), Mike Ribeiro (Old Skin) and Laurence Taylor (Cold Fell, Church of Fuck Records) on both the album’s title track and its closer, “Orphan,”—a fifteen-minute masterpiece.
Clayton’s presence is probably the most noticeable change for Caïna. Unlike the band’s previous five full-length studio LPs, the sound on Setter of Unseen Snares is simply humongous, and draws you directly into the center of music. His sheer technical ability is a very welcome addition to the Caïna sound. Also, just having a producer—any producer—onboard to edit, and to simplify the process for the artist pays dividends, particularly for an artist like Curtis-Brignell, who is by his own admission a bipolar, depressive personality.
Don’t mistake this album for a lesser effort based on its length; Setter of Unseen Snares is a very, very strong release and probably a turning point in the career arc of both Caïna and Andy Curtis-Brignell. Ceding total control was a very mature step that has certainly rejuvenated the sound of the band. Pick this one up and play it LOUD.