‘Glorious Father, intercede for me. / If I cannot hide from you, neither can he,” Lingua Ignota’s Kristin Hayter sings, with a voice she once used as a church cantor; she has since rebuked her Catholic religion, but renounced a period of atheism too. She soon shrieks a desperate, heretical demand: “I don’t give a fuck! Just kill him! You have to! I’m not asking!”
Her staggering 2019 release Caligula juxtaposed classical music with industrial, metal and noise to create “survivor anthems” of vengeance and rage, born from abuse she endured. On follow-up album Sinner Get Ready, she tackles judgment, despair and devotion through the lens of faith. As well as relocating to rural Pennsylvania, she has made a musical departure too, throwing out distortion and drums for an atonal, avant garde approach to Appalachian strings such as banjo, psaltery and dulcimer.
The record’s arrangements are as stringent and severe as their environment: this Pennsylvania is a place of harsh isolation, curious history and haunting folklore which, as Hayter sings, spans hermetic cloisters, murderous ironmasters and a hellish mine fire ceaselessly burning underground.
Her voice remains her most devastating tool, and she discovers new depths to her gift in layered harmonies and raw recordings. As she invokes the eponymous traditional song with “Oh sinner, you’d better get ready”, the ominous undertones woven through so many spirituals are deliberately brought to the fore. For Hayter, influences aren’t to be simply absorbed, they’re to be challenged, and great respect is held in that action. It’s what makes Sinner Get Ready such a formidable intercession: one that fearlessly, relentlessly pursues human concepts of justice, questions the protection of Jesus’s blood, and confronts the Christian characterisation of God.