Well, Bo, looks like you got a competitor.
Singer, songwriter, screamer, multi-instrumentalist, cuntkiller, death dealer, butcher of the world, and lover of Cheez-It’s Kristin Hayter AKA Lingua Ignota has been making more and more noise in the experimental and underground metal communities, having a sound that draws from so many various inspirations yet bent to be incredibly unique to her. Due to her eclectic background in classical music, heavy genres, academia, and an almost uncomfortable openness and vulnerability about her trauma, her music has a very artistic approach that has connected to many others and unintentionally being a voice for those who have experienced abuse. Needless to say, Hayter was probably feeling the pressure to recreate success with a “Caligula pt.2”, which, while understandable, I feel like would probably go against the Lingua Ignota ethos. Thankfully, she did what she does best by following her own artistic lane and gave us the very different yet just as emotionally devastating and, frankly, metal as fuck “Sinner Get Ready”.
Before anyone gets the wrong idea, “Sinner Get Ready” doesn’t sound like a typical metal album, even less so than its already left field predecessor. Most of the industrial synths, droning bass, shrieking screams, and walls of distortion that made some noticeable highlights on “Caligula” aren’t here besides the first two tracks, which I would say serve as the bridge between those two record’s narratives. Kristin and her producer/mixer Seth Manchester’s sonic palette for this record is mainly defined by gothic classical music and Appalacian music. On top of the dark piano chords, strings, and church organs that have become reoccurring on Lingua Ignota records, there are plenty of moments of rustic sounding Americana such as banjo, fiddle horns, bowed psaltery, and dulcimer, as well as some foley recordings of the atmosphere of Pennsylvania.
You might wonder how this could cause me to say this sounds “metal”, and frankly I am likely not good enough of a writer to explain it, but the musical phrases she writes and the way she bends this unconventional instrumentation into her artistic lense is very reminiscent of harrowing black metal and causes a sense of dread and uneasiness that’s sends you into her dark world. This is contrasted by some of the “softer moments”, usually defined by just Kristin’s voice, a piano, and maybe a couple additional instruments as the song builds, that hit just as hard simply by how emotionally devastating they are. This doesn’t even get into Hayter’s vocals, which are just as driven by the church music of her upbringing as ever and, in this context, sounds like a sermon leader in a cult-like hymn (especially when she does a stack of vocal harmonies that almost sounds like a ritual). Her vocal range can go from deep and low to an angelic soprano, sometimes within the same song, and she uses it to give incredibly theatrical performances. Hayter’s approach to vocals sounds like she’s pulling from the sky in heaven and the fires of hell to cast a curse on those who have harmed her, and it comes across like a scene out of an opera or a Greek tragedy.
Much of the reason why the music performances sound the way they do is because of Hayter’s recent move to Pennsylvania and her exploration around the state, which has a history of tragic lore, various intense religious groups, and an overall odd atmosphere. I can say as someone who has lived in PA for most of my life and have even driven by the location where she filmed the music video for “Pennsylvania Furnace” everyday for work that she captured the vibe very well. She uses the state’s religious history as the inspiration for song narratives and to critique some of the abuse within these religious worlds. But they also serve as jumping off points for Hayter’s own trauma and the abuse she has faced, as the work of Lingua Ignota often does, and one of the most significant inspirations behind the lyrics is her recent relationship to an unfaithful partner with an addiction to cheating. She uses this religious imagery to confront the pain and anger she has felt because of what he has done to her and to explore why she accepted it for far too long because she’s been conditioned to believe she deserved it. It’s her ability to be so open, ugly, and vulnerable about what she’s experienced and the switches she does from sorrowful pain to vicious anger and contempt that makes the lyrics hit so close to home, exploring the various emotions and effects abuse and trauma of any kind can cause a person that most music, even those that address those topics, are afraid to go into. It’s almost impossible not to be incredibly affected by her laying her soul bare and I can imagine it might cause people to reject this album because it’s so heavy - I love the album and I find it hard to listen to.
Lingua Ignota continues to make music that is gut-wrenching, horrifying, and heartbreaking, and yet - and I said this before - is ultimately empowering, not because “Sinner Get Ready” is a feel good album but because it is so uncompromising truthful in its pain and trauma and shows her ultimately surviving anyway. Her blend of neo-classical, rustic Americana, and heavy music creates a listening experience that I have never heard before and you will unlikely hear at all this year. “Sinner Get Ready” will make every heavy album this year sound like a Limp Bizkit record, and no amount of words I can possibly write will properly get you ready for this devastating listen.
But will it be my Album of the Year? Well, I guess we’ll see at my year end Best of 2021 list!