LINGUA IGNOTA – Sinner Get Ready

[Avant-garde, Industrial – USA – Sargent House]

Roadburn Festival 2019. I’m deep in the heart of Tilburg, Netherlands and find myself excitedly whisked into a venue hall with all the lights off. Performing not on the stage but in the centre of the crowd, Kristin Hayter marches and strides holding a lantern, screaming, wailing and singing her heart out. Lingua Ignota’s spellbinding performance concludes with ‘Holy Is The Name (Of My Ruthless Axe)’, a brutal and cathartic piano ballad told from the perspective of the divine axe that will take revenge on her abuser. I look around and see people in the crowd visibly moved to tears by a beaming light in a darkened room.

Sinner Get Ready, Lingua Ignota’s third record could somewhat act as an expansion of this powerful song taken from Hayter’s full length debut masterpiece All Bitches Die. Sinner Get Ready chronicles Hayter moving house to rural Pennsylvania, an area prominently ruled by Christian values, and thus sees a lyrical shift of focus from the deeply raw and personally revealing survivor ballads of her previous works into exploring her own relationship with a religious upbringing. No less confrontational and outspoken than on her previous works, Hayter mesmerises with an equally haunting and moving powerhouse vocal performance and complex lyricism that both criticises and admires Christianity and the concepts of faith and devotion. Instrumentally, Hayter mirrors this with her most organic set of sounds yet in a slight departure of the industrial and noise influences that define her earlier material.

The album begins with the sound of the piano – the most prominent instrument alongside Hayter’s voice – on the powerful epic ‘The Order Of Spiritual Virgins’. This nine minute opener’s first half is both alluring and eerie in equal measure, with the melodic and restrained piano motif barely keeping its head up above a droning sea. Additional rounds of vocals drift in giving the song much more drama as well as a hymnal approach. Hayter’s operatic voice has this flexible ability to flicker in and out of harmony and dissonance from her impressive power and range. Towards this song’s second half the melodicism crumbles into loud ear piercing atonal piano blasts that sound like the keys are being punched with bloodied knuckles, eventually crumbling in on itself, dissipating with a gentle yet unsettling aura as a spoken word monologue that could be from a local pastor concludes a jaw dropping opening ceremony.

‘I Who Bend The Tall Grasses’ is easily the most abrasive song told with violent imagery and edged weapons with swords, scythes, fiery arrows and her faithful axe being screamed by Hayter as a means to kill a holy man in a ceremonial ritual. Though Sinner Get Ready as a whole may not be anywhere near as noisy, harsh and maniacally driven as All Bitches Die and Caligula, it is still a very unsettling, forceful and overwhelming experience both sonically and emotionally. Captured expertly by producer and recording engineer Seth Manchester at Machines With Magnets studio in Rhode Island, this song is one of many that utilises incredible sound design complete with menacing organ, jangling wind chimes, brooding cello and an all encompassing central vocal performance that traverses so many moods and approaches – both comfortable and uncomfortable – sounding like a feral angel. ‘Many Hands’ plays like a twisted and deranged pop anthem, with the title refrain “Sinner you better get ready, Hallelujah!” acting like a mantra across a delightfully strange soup of metallic plucking and scraping sounds which are surprisingly rhythmic and help to drive the song even through horror and madness, almost recalling the nightmarish clanging score to Texas Chain Saw Massacre.

And yet, for all of Sinner Get Ready‘s menacing and darkly inverted hymns, Hayter dives ever further into genuinely tear-jerking piano ballads that were merely hinted at on previous albums, as well as her astonishing cover of Dolly Parton’s ‘Jolene’. ‘Pennsylvania Furnace’ almost sounds like the antithesis and doppelganger to Lana Del Rey; a beautiful, softly sung masterwork that lifts into an enormous, soaring and bellowing chorus as Hayter rejoices “I feel your voice.” Fitting with the theme of the album, Hayter’s revelatory performance here is something akin to a religious experience, proving that beyond the noise, the screaming and the chaos is also a master singer/songwriter. This direction also carries into the gorgeous ‘Perpetual Flame Of Centralia’, the tale of a Pennsylvania town which was left as an abandoned ghost town after a fire ravaged the town uninhabitable, raining ash and leaving a thick fog of smoke (incidentally the real life inspiration for Silent Hill). Hayter pairs the fate of Centralia as an act of God’s wrath over glistening piano chords and her most gentle and restraining singing to date.

I could go on about the wonders and depths that make up Sinner Get Ready but if you’ve managed to read this far then you absolutely have to seek out this record and discover for yourself what is easily the most essential, mesmerising and bone chilling works of art you will hear this year. Lingua Ignota has proven again and again to be one of the most urgent, important and groundbreaking voices in modern music, pouring every ounce of herself physically and emotionally into her craft. Lingua Ignota’s music does have a strong crossover with leftfield metal, industrial and noise music fanbases, and perhaps some listeners who loved the screaming death industrial side of her persona may feel an initial disappointment on their first listen of this album, but really shouldn’t when the songs, performances and sound design are THIS GOOD. Though it is slightly toned down in sonic brutality, Hayter has created her most universal, well balanced and complete record yet – a true masterpiece that displays the holy trinity of an artist at their peak, writing their best material ever and captured spectacularly with perfect production. Sinner Get Ready‘s analysis of humanity’s connection to religion is poignant, deeply observed, impossibly complex and told so passionately musically and lyrically with plenty of blood and drama. This is a record that will reward you through repeat listens and take you through a spiralling, ominous and unhinged journey of devotion, contradiction, violence, beauty and chaos.


Sinner Get Ready is released on August 6th 2021 through Sargent House.
Thank you to Lauren at Rarely Unable for advance listening opportunity.


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