We had to think a while about the latest Lingua Ignota album Sinner Get Ready (stylized in all caps which we will ignore). But now that we have, here are some words about this captivating release.
As most of you know Kristin Hayter aka Lingua Ignota is an uncompromising figure in today’s music industry. Hayter has experienced significant personal troubles in the recent past and doesn’t shun to open up about it throughout her music. As a survivor of domestic violence she describes her own work as “survivor anthems” which we in turn can easily understand as Hayter coping with this difficult past in a very vulnerable manner. Her moniker Lingua Ignota enables her to shift between the intimate and bombastic within the snap of the finger.
Hayter, who is classically trained, is also heavily invested in the extreme music scene and thus is often compared to Diamanda Galás. We however doubt if the comparison holds up in the long run but it created enough buzz on Bandcamp on which she self recorded her first albums in 2017. On both releases Hayter’s lyrics are explosive while musical consolidation is sparse. Nevertheless we very much liked All Bitches Die that balances on the thin line of the all-absorbing and the tranquil. On her previous release Caligula (2019) Hayter collaborated with members of The Body, Uniform and Full of Hell who brought in a much rougher edge. You could say Caligula was her breakthrough album because it considerably grew her fanbase in the metal scene. Musically it’s also her most restless work as contrasts between the extreme and classical styles are significant and maybe even unbridgeable at certain points. Nevertheless, while recovering from spinal surgery in lockdown, Lingua Ignota drew inspiration from her surroundings and recorded Sinner Get Ready.
Lingua Ignota teamed up with Satan on Caligula looking for vengeance on those who mistreated her. For Sinner Get Ready she turns to the other side of the spectrum. However God was never on her side when she was abused so it’s the Supreme Being himself who has to get ready for a ruthless beating.
The album kicks off with the operatic The Order of Spiritual Virgins. On it Hayter directly let’s out her rage in various deep howls, sobs and yells. Her voice is the centrepiece of the opera and is only sparsely supported by a low synth and piano. Hayter sets a foreshadowing standard for the rest of the album by solely carrying the whole song with her venomous multi-tracked vocals. At the half of the nine minute opener she even treats the piano to a physical punishment which surely is an embodiment of herself. I Who Bend the Tall Grasses is also backed up with one main instrument: a church organ. As the organ swells and cymbals lighty weigh in, Hayter violently starts demanding the death of an enemy in something that you can best describe as a very evil church service. Things get even more religious on Many Hands: “The Lord spat and held me by my neck […] I wish things could be different he wept” while traditional Appalachian instruments surges around her. This sonic experimentation and unholy lyrical sermons continue further on the album. On The Sacred Liniment of Judgement for example traditional repetitive hymning is the foundation of a song that deals with the sexual abuse in the evangelist world whilst on Repent Now Confess Now Hayter directly blames the power structures of religion that enable the normalization of abuse in the name of God. On the latter she squares up against the system and sings: “The surgeon’s precision is nothing. No wound as sharp as the will of God. […] He will take your legs and your will to live. Confess now!”
On several other songs the music is toned down, although the lyrics remain heavily confronting. The album’s fourth song, Pennsylvania Furnace, is the first that takes this approach. Hayter’s hymnal voice is centered over a quiet piano so if you’re not paying attention to the words the song feels warm and romantic. Yet, lyrically Hayter explores the futility of existence by recounting an haunting 18th century story about a cruel Pennsylvanian ironmaster who throws his dogs into his furnace, who later return to drag him down with them to hell. At the end of the songs things musically open up with various traditional instruments played by Seth Manchester and Ryan Seaton making Pennsylvania Furnace a masterpiece of a ballad. In the same fashion Hayter treats us to two more masterpieces. On ‘Perpetual Flame of Centralia’ it’s the simplicity of piano and Hayter’s rich voice that brings about a feeling of everlasting divinity while on closer The Solitary Brethren of Ephrata more soothing feelings arise because of the wonderful multi-tracked vocal interplay. For a moment it feels like the end Sinner Get Ready gets a closed ending in which all struggles come to a rest. Yet, in the last seconds we hear that things aren’t that easily digested as she sings “Loneliness my pastor. I bow to him alone”.
Sinner Get Ready is without a doubt one of the best releases of the year and a must hear for anyone who doesn’t shun to turn away from the dark side of humankind. From a musical perspective Hayter’s latest work is much more focused when it comes to the sonical drama. For this reason alone it’s also a more coherent record to listen to if you compare it to predecessor Caligula. You could say that this new Lingua Ignota loses out on the experiment. Indeed, in terms of noise and other forms of heaviness things are set aside. Still, if you open up to the use of traditional instruments and singing structures there is still a lot to experience. So if you are still looking for a jaw-dropping, captivating, intense piece of music, Sinner Get Ready should be your go-to album for 2021.
Label: Sargent House, 2021
Buy it here: https://evilgreed.net/collections/lingua-ignota
- The Order of Spiritual Virgins (9:10)
- I Who Bend the Tall Grasses (6:28)
- Many Hands (5:15)
- Pennsylvania Furnace (5:46)
- Repent Now Confess Now (5:48)
- The Sacred Linament of Judgment (5:22)
- Perpetual Flame of Centralia (5:34)
- Man Is Like a Spring Flower (7:16)
- The Solitary Brethren of Ephrata (5:11)
- Kristin Hayter – vocals
- Seth Manchester – production, mixing, recording
- Ryan Seaton – instrumental arrangements, additional recording
- J. Mamana – banjo
Review by Wander Meulemans // 291121