This UK based act helmed by Andy Curtis-Brignell have always been interesting and highly experimental. I remember the near neo-folk acoustic lushness of 2008 album ‘Temporary Antennae’ being a challenging listen with many ideas flowing through it. Fast forward to the present and the project is having a second life as such after taking a bit of time out. Always prolific to the point of an overabundance of material you never know quite what to expect from them but a heavy electronic aspect has always been present and taken them far from any strictures of orthodoxy making a blackened backbone at times almost incidental. Quickly following up from last year’s Broken Limbs recording Setter Of Unseen Snares Brignell has now teamed up with Laurence Taylor of Cold Fell to provide vocals as well as some other musicians. The result is an eclectic album of many disparate ideas that really does require some sort of dissection just to give you an idea of what to expect.
We start with the clanking of industrial machinery as ‘Oildrenched and Geartorn’ does exactly as suggested and lubricates the way into a couple of tracks of snarly and chaotic black metal. Fast, savage and raw there is a definite fury here but like the album as a whole the tracks feel flung together and pretty much uncoordinated and all over the place. Blood-curdling roars are really effective on the slower ‘Fumes Of God’ and there is a feel about this reminiscent of Krieg a band who Caïna have shared split duties with in the past. ‘The Throat Of The World’ after it features Dwid from Integrity too as special guest under the name of Vermapyre. Dispensing with this it’s time for a track of dark ambience with rattling chains which could be looked on as a complete waste of space or an atmospheric interlude depending on your inclinations. More blackness next but sounding like it’s from a completely different time period or recording session as it has a punk etched squat vibe about it and by now the schizophrenic feel of the album should definitely have been noted as could have thoughts of utter pretentiousness no doubt spurred on by track titles like this one’s ‘Gazing On The Quantum Megalith.’ Those looking for the black metal side of things will get their fix for a few tracks although if you listen out the difference between numbers such as ‘God’s Tongue Is An Ashtray’ and ‘Entartete Kunst’ is significant as far as production is concerned. The latter is far more abrasive and if everything could have been as sonically charged as this we could have had a great album. Again it feels like it was recorded in a completely different place from the track before.
Members of Warren Schoenbright are on hand to turn things on head again as instrumental ‘Pillars Of Salt’ is an exercise in jazzy drum solos and beats that sound like they have escaped off an experimental dub album. If that’s not distraction enough leading into the next slice of hate-filled nihilism wait till you get past it for a mind-numbing exercise in muttered spoken words and ambient armchair music. I doubt many will listen to this without wishing it would fuck off back to the chill out room at the Whirl-Y-Gig where it belongs. Just in case you have not had enough of the album’s sporadic ideas we finally get to the last and title track which is an exercise in darkwave synth music which although admittedly very good just doesn’t fit in.
Christ Clad… has no shortage of ideas, some of them good, some bad but the question is do they all fit together on the same album? It feels like ideas of 3-4 full lengths thrown in together to stew in their own juices and you know what they say about too many cooks. Some are going to find this utter genius and others are going to feel it the work of the vainglorious. I have to side with the latter I’m afraid finding it all far too sporadic for its own good but that doesn’t mean it should be completely dismissed as this is an album that really deserves the individual making their own mind up on it.
(6.5/10 Pete Woods)