Lingua Ignota – Caligula (Profound Lore, 2019)

Once in a while, you come across an album that completely takes you by surprise. It might be that the musicianship is breath-taking, the sound going against your expectations or the just sheer power behind it. Regardless, music like that sticks with you and plays around your head for weeks to come.

Lingua Ignota’s Caligula is one of these albums. For those unaware of Lingua Ignota, it is the brainchild of Kristin Hayter, a classically trained artist known for confrontational performances and a violently unconventional approach to her art. For this, her second album, she has brought together a wide range of musicians from across the
spectrum of extreme music. Artists including Lee Buford of The Body, Full Of Hell’s Dylan Walker and Mike Berdan of Uniform have joined with her to create a truly powerful piece documenting both spousal abuse, the systems that perpetuate it and the resulting acts of survival.

From the very start of this record, you know that this will be challenging you every step of the way. Opener “FAITHFUL SERVANT FRIEND OF CHRIST” is a beautiful piece of swirling feedback and strings, with Kristin’s powerful vocals slowly layering on top of one another to form an almost choral effect. It gently draws you in, while giving you a little taste of what is to come. The rest of the record mixes together sombre piano refrains, huge orchestral bombast and vocals that range from the sublime to the terrifying. Traditional song structures are regularly thrown out of the window, with symphonies distorted by blasts of feedback and tortured screaming. Almost without trying, the album constantly finds new ways to unsettle the listener. Yet at the same time, you know that this was a hugely
personal and cathartic exercise for Hayter. “FRAGRANT IS MY MANY FLOWERED CROWN” is the sound of a wounded, yet proud warrior queen striking down her foes, while the vicious noise of “IF THE POISON WON’T TAKE YOU MY DOGS WILL” serves as both a call to arms and a threat.

Caligula also plays with different influences. Christianity played a huge part in this record, from the organs of “DAYS OF TEARS AND MOURNING” and the apocalyptic lyrics used throughout the record. However, Hayter cleverly subverts them to pull apart the bigotry and misogyny endemic to the faith. Her vocals draw upon both Celtic, Middle Eastern and Romany influences in a number of tracks, including the aforementioned “IF YOUR POISON…” and closer “I AM THE BEAST”. While industrial, harsh noise and black metal also filter through too, adding extra depth to an already dense sound.

Caligula is an incredible piece of work, though not one for the faint of heart. You will come out at the other side bruised, beaten yet ultimately enriched. It easily rivals many of this year’s metal releases in terms of extremity, yet has much loftier goals than merely pummelling you into submission. It wants you to embrace the concept of vengeance against those who would victimise and oppress women and I for one welcome it with open arms.


Score: 8.5/10

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