“And all that I’ve learned / is everything burns” laments Lingua Ignota aka Kristin Hayter on ‘Pennsylvania Furnace’, the fourth track on her latest album SINNER GET READY – an apt sentiment for a record that blazes with a unique orchestral agony.
Released via Sargent House, Hayter’s fourth full length offering is an emotional exorcism inspired by the severe brand of Christianity in rural Pennsylvania where she currently lives. Its strictness permeates her vision to the core; her lyrics, majestic hymn-like instrumentation and gothic aesthetic smoulder with a righteous thirst that can only be sated by the blood of Jesus – a recurring lyrical and visual motif on the album.
Whilst it’s clear that Hayter has made a distinct departure from the furious, visceral sounds of CALIGULA, her sensational vocals are still the lifeblood of SINNER GET READY. She uses her voice to devastating effect, harrowing up the soul with her effortless ability to switch from a soft, divine cry to a cord-ripping, desperate plea. She is like a one woman version of the chorus of ancient furies that saturate Greek mythology; Medea-like in her repulsion, relentless in the revenge she reeks upon the souls who cross her path.
From the unsettling, majestic keys of epic opener ‘The Order Of Spiritual Virgins’ on which she warns “Hide your children / hide your husband / I am relentless / I am incessant / I am the ocean” to the theatrical, cathedral-worthy organ on ‘I Who Bend The Tall Grasses’, Hayter’s furious summons often give the impression of a preacher who has lost their way. Her guttural, spitefully shouted lyrics “I don’t give a fuck / just kill him / you have to / I’m not asking” on the latter are matched by the violent imagery on ‘Repent Now Confess Now’ – “He will knock the breath from you / he will ram your eyes with glass” – all culminating to create a palpable sense of dread.
A vessel for exposing rage, hypocrisy and suffering; Hayter leaves no stone unturned. She blends self and social flagellation together effortlessly on three tracks that centre around the questionable sincerity of disgraced American Evangelist TV Preacher Jimmy Swaggart. The audio of his televised confession is layered over the instrumentation at the end of ‘The Sacred Linament Of Judgment’, featuring his “blood of Jesus'” remark which Hayter then uses as a lyrical backbone for the sombre ‘Perpetual Flame Of Centralia’. It’s bookended with ‘Man Is Like A Spring Flower’, which opens with the audio of an interview with the prostitute who brought Swaggart’s indiscretions to the surface, embellished by Hayter’s potent, destructive lyric “The heart of man is a furnace.”
With her archaic song titles, immersion into Christian iconography and distinctive vocal delivery, Hayter invites her listeners to dwell in the chaotic, divine abyss on SINNER GET READY. “Do you want to be / in hell with me?” she asks – if hell sounds like this, we’ll gladly walk into the flames. Even without a full understanding of the album’s religious context, SINNER GET READY provides a profound emotional release.