“Biblical” in the both senses of the word. This is an immense, inspiring, frightening, absorbing genre-defying meisterwerk (yep, I’m going down the rabbit hole, be warned). The traces of classical, opera, industrial, Black Metal, medieval and choral music in these eleven astonishing pieces are all melded together in service of Hayter’s incredible vocal range. From a seductive whisper to a chiding, regretful, grief-stricken cry to a truly unsettling scream, she is a remarkable talent. This is a remarkable release.
Lyrically, Caligula is more than the ( justiﬁable) revenge fantasies of an abuse survivor ( “I am the fucking death-dealer / throat-slitter of the world”) There is also pain, there is pleading and there is regret ( “All I know is violence / All I want is boundless love”). For every “May Failure Be Your Noose” and “Spite Alone Holds Me Aloft” there are “Days Of Tears And Mourning” and “ I Am The Beast”. To this reviewer, the only comparable release would be Scott Walker’s “The Drift” in terms of unsettling the listener with dramatic musical shifts, but whereas Walker was always (in his later years) observational and (seemed) one-step removed from the torment and existential suffering he sang about, Hayter’s is pure, unadulterated catharsis and all the more affecting / unsettling it is.
As with her collaborators, members of Uniform and The Body, there is an almost medieval end-of-times sense to this work that chimes with these awful, painful days. Some have chafed at the length of the release (just over an hour), and claim that it’s impact is reduced as a result. I’d disagree. As a song cycle, it works. Where Lingua Ignota goes next is going to be fascinating.