Caïna’s morbid and constantly changing visions reach choking black levels with ‘Christ Clad…’

CainaIt was just yesterday that we paid homage to a band taking a steady path, always staying within their world and rarely branching beyond. Today, we have the exact opposite of that. Instead, we’re looking at new work from a band that always is shedding its skin, trying on new colors, and doing whatever pleases them and drives their vision.

Over the past 12 years, Caïna have remained steady in that you never could anticipate where they’ll go next. There’s almost no sense buckling yourself in for the ride, because that would make it feel much less dangerous and provoking. To boot, just last year the band delivered its bleak black metal Armageddon tale “Setter of Unseen Snares,” one of our 40 favorite releases of the year and one that touches upon the terrifying possibility an asteroid could come hurtling toward us with no chance to thwart its crash. Fuck, would we even want to do that anyway, considering how things are going? Anyway, now comes “Christ Clad in White Phosphorous,” an 11-track, 53-minute album that could not possibly be more opposite of its predecessor. It’s like being inside the brain of someone who can take no more and whose circuits are melting down, as a strange variety of sounds assault you, not to mention the unhinged vocals that make this all the more terrifying. It’s a record that could offend and upset some people, because that’s how people are, but it’s exciting and agitating in the best possible way.

Caina coverCaïna long has been a project driven forward by Andy Curtis-Brignell, one of metal’s true visionaries and someone who disrupts the status quo wonderfully on social media, calling out the bullshit and hypocrisy reigning throughout metal’s ranks. Along with him are vocalist Laurence Taylor, bassist Paul Robertson, and guests Dwid Hellion of the legendary band Integrity, as well as members of London experimental improv music smashers Warren Schoenbright. The result of all of this is a frantic, destructive force that feels like picking up the pieces after a catastrophic disaster, or one that has the members communicating from a different plane of existence. It’s an album that took me a few turns to truly digest, and even now when I hear it, I still uncover new things and understand the piece differently.

“Oildrenched and Geartorn” opens the record amid a pit of weird shuffling, buzzers going off, coughing and hacking in the background, and industrial madness that then leads into “Torture Geometry” that unloads penetrating noise and sound swirls. Wild growls wreck into that insanity, as a dizzying pace and thick grimness suddenly crash land. “Fumes of God” gives off industrial steam, as riffs steamroll heavily, and growls go right for the intestines. Sorrowful keys bubble up and bring a black shroud over everything, while the vocals keep wrenching, and the thrashing pace is halted, with the piece fading out in synth shimmer. “The Throat of the World” has strings being plucked, noise wrenching into ambiance, and a sense of complete anguish unleashed. Crazed howls strike over top the soundscape, with the bulk of this generating panic-inducing horror. “Gazing on the Quantum Megalith” has industrial-fed riffs, harsh growls, and some black metal-splattered melodies that hint back to “Setter” just a bit. The guitars chug and stab, the vocals bruise, and a sense of menace crushes you. The pace slows and mashes, while violent cries carry to the end. “God’s Tongue as an Ashtray” is foggy at first, but then black metal bloodshed rears its heads, only to be consumed by slow-driving doom fury. Speaking goes along with the growls, but then speedy guitars take over and rush to the finish line.

“Entartete Kete” has blinding speed, with guitars striking, chaos breathing fury, and complete agitation launched. Strange, warbling singing is drizzled over top, giving it a weird feel, and raucous, yet melodic, mud clogs veins and leads to the song’s ending violent outburst. “Pillars of Salt,” featuring aforementioned Warren Schoenbright, is an unsettling one, with noise fluttering, church bells striking, and drums going off, setting its rhythms into a cacophony of confusion. A trip hop-style section turns heads, while horns squeak, the pace spews start-stop trudging, and noise sheets carry you into the night. “The Promise of Youth” has huge black metal-style riffs, with fire-breathing vocals, a sense of desperation bringing anxiety, and a goth-style path being carved. The guitars dominate once again, pulling the track back into the hell in which it formed. “Extraordinary Grace” is a 12:20 nightmare that takes its time spreading its reach, with strange synth, detached speaking, and things feeling like an electric haze dream. That’s a thing, right? This transmission lurches over the entire run time, feeling absolutely horrifying and chilling. The closing title track is the strangest of the bunch, at least compared to what preceded it. Blippy synth and post-punk darkness flow hard, especially with the singing, and warm guitars stretch over the song, with the warning, “We all burn!” bringing on the album’s exclamation point driven home like a knife.

Caïna always seems like a band teetering on destruction, a union always a little too tuned into how fucked up the face of the Earth truly is. I always get that Caïna sense we’re closer to our own destruction than anyone else realizes, and that sentiment is smeared all over “Christ Clad in White Phosphorous.” As long as we’re all too happy to destroy ourselves, this band always will find inspiration, but you can feel from the bleak terror that even they are growing perversely angrier by the minute, and they’re all too happy to take out that frustration on the rest of the world.

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