If there is one constant within the world of Caïna it’s that listeners can rely upon the sound of the one man black metal project to never stay the same. A definitive oxymoron, but across eight albums Andy Curtis-Brignell has kept his project’s sound ever evolving and expanding. Alongside this comes a lyrical subject matter that is often uncomfortable to confront, however, Caïna champions this with unwavering resolve and this is never more true than on latest record ‘Gentle Illness’. Covering topics such as the relationship between mind and matter in suicide, demonic possession via the medium of interdimensional telepathy and the country’s failing of those suffering with mental illness, it’s a stark and completely undiluted look into a tortured mind.
2016’s ‘Christ Clad in White Phospherous’ took Caïna’s exploration of the noise genre the furthest it had ever been and ‘Gentle Illness’ continues this path with tracks such as ‘Wellness Policy’ and ‘Canto IV’ looping shrill, reverb drenched electronics to create a mounting sense of unease. The dynamic is erratic, shifting between the bellowing echoes of almost Cascadian sounding black metal before retreating back into a writhing murk of tinny percussion and glacial paced riffs that creates a sound that borders on industrial.
There’s something deeply intense about being privy to such personal thoughts put to music, although however uncomfortable it may be to listen to it’s only a glimpse of the torturous disintegration of man behind the music. ‘Gentle Illness’ is equal parts chaotic and terrifying, from the break neck speed of shifts in both tempo and mood to the harrowing realisation that much of the subject matter is completely relatable. This opus is a far-reaching compendium of the darkest side of the human psyche and, at times, can feel like it’s holding a mirror up to the parts you try hardest to hide from the world.
(8/10 Angela Davey)