“Do you want to be in hell with me,” sings Kristin Hayter (known to us as Lingua Ignota), during the menacing lament that is PENNSYLVANIA FURNACE – the highlight of Hayter‘s new album, SINNER GET READY.
If anything, CALIGULA, Ignota‘s 2019 breakthrough album, told us that the Rhode Island native (now residing in Chicago) was operating on her own spiritual plane.
While CALIGULA was a barbed net of destruction exploding with frightening malevolence about themes of abuse, on SINNER GET READY, the vocalist uses rural Pennsylvania, a community firmly entrenched in Christian mythology, as an accelerant to peddle her pain.
Dialling down on the thick abrasive nature of CALIGULA, the soundscapes that comprise SINNER GET READY are softened with Appalachian instrumentation and harnessed by maestro, Seth Manchester (BIG|BRAVE, The Body, Alexis Marshall et al).
SINNER GET READY is a magnetic spiritual state. Ignota has a way of shackling her listeners to the chains of some esoteric chamber far beneath the surface.
“Hide your children/Hide your husband,” sings Ignota during opener, THE ORDER OF SPIRITUAL VIRGINS; a cracked composition with her voice towering above the decayed piano keys and rusted strings.
Very seldom to we hear Ignota‘s mirthless screams throughout SINNER GET READY BUT, but on I WHO BEND THE TALL GRASSES, her voice rises violently above eerie church organs (“I don’t give a fuck/Just kill him/I’m not asking.”)
MANY HANDS sounds like a conception from a dilapidated barnyard with corroded farm equipment being used for instruments, which leads perfectly into SINNER GET READY‘s most jarring passage.
In what is one of Ignota‘s most heartfelt moments to emerge from the studio vaults, it’s hard to see the songwriter better something like the hymnal despair of PENNSYLVANIA FURNACE.
Lines like, “Me and the dog died together”, the aforementioned “Do you want to be in hell with me”, “There is victory in Jesus”, and “I know you wanna stop/But you can’t stop/I watched you alone where you live with your family/And all I’ve learned is everything burns,” are delivered from the viper pit of existential dread.
These verses cut like repeated knife blows from the darkest shadows imaginable. Not only is it the finest song Ignota has written – it’s one of the finest in years, carrying the same devastating emotional burden the likes of Nick Cave, Steve Von Till, and Emil Amos have served over the preceding years.
While the ritual-like folk traipse of REPENT NOW CONFESS NOW and THE SACRED LINAMENT OF JUDGEMENT are akin to tip-toeing through the dead of night escaping an axe-murderer, it’s the slowcore gloom of PERPETUAL FLAME OF CENTRALIA that feels like the perfect foil to PENNSYLVANIA FURNACE; the kind of song that crumbles under its own weight of anguish (“I am covered with the blood of Jesus”).
Born from the roots of hell, and Ignota guides us towards the end of SINNER GET READY with the final two compositions, MAN IS LIKE A SPRING FLOWER and THE SOLITARY BRETHEREN OF EPHRATA.
Featuring samples of a distributed, bible-haunted individual that has gone beyond the point of no return with religion, Ignota weaves the thread of fractured folk through this tainted patchwork of misery.
And that’s what SINNER GET READY is. A bloodied patchwork showcasing some of the most open-hearted songs of 2021. While it isn’t the raging hell-fire that is CALIGULA, SINNER GET READY is its own cauldron of dread and dark harmony.
There’s a fierce emptiness to Ignota‘s compositions, which makes it all the more fascinating as to how she keeps delivering this kind of art. Oozing like a weeping wound, with SINNER GET READY, Ignota delivers these menacing accounts with boundless prestige in yet another spine-tingling performance.
SINNER GET READY is out now via Sargent House. Purchase from Bandcamp.