Even though I don’t consider myself particularly religious, I find something deeply appealing about the idea of Christianity being as sinister as Satanism on a certain level. Pick your flavor – there’s self-immolation, stigmata, consumption of the body of Christ and his blood, self-flagellation and many more ways to have fun, even when religion insists its utterly sinful to satiate the flesh before the soul. That’s not to mention the imminent arrival of Jesus Christ is on the minds of many, even tech billionaires.
Something else I find fascinating is how acoustic music oftentimes tends to be more terrifying than anything electric/amplified. Exhibit A would be this tasty little split of Manson covers that came out on Chrome Peeler label in 2010. And from there its a very short road to the very roots, the gospel.
Yes, the gospel. Its inconceivable to imagine rock and roll materializing without the gospel opening the doors. You can find traces of it all over – from house music to metal, which isn’t surprising given how it can be both celebratory and dark. Black celebration is also at the heart of SAVED!, the record I’ll talk about today.
I feel strangely satisfied knowing that the Reverend Kristin Michael Hayter (fka Lingua Ignota), the person behind the record, will not grant any interviews. There’s a certain aura surrounding SAVED! that would’ve been destroyed by straightforward answers as to how and why it came to be and what sort of environment shaped it, so best I can do is to try to put the puzzle pieces together on my own.
Lignua Ignota ended in 2023 after a run of critically-lauded albums (including Caligula), with Kristin Hayter saying that “It is not healthy for me to relive my worst experiences over and over”, as per Pitchfork. It was my assumption that Lingua Ignota is retiring from music altogether, but the reality proved different. Can’t recall who first mentioned SAVED! on social media and the name on the record certainly didn’t rang any bells right away, but eventually it all came together.
LI may be over, but the spirit of exploring the things most disturbing is certainly still there, this time the focus being religion rather than purgatory of personal relationships. The opener “I’m Getting Out While I Can” got me seriously worried about my headphones malfunctioning, but the rambly collage at the end proved the glitchery is very much the fabric of that track. Think people stomping their feet so loud that the recording device ends up being nearly broken.
It is “All of My Friends Are Going to Hell”, the next track that, in my opinion, is the centerpiece of SAVED! and the best one on it by far. Featuring nothing more than piano and voice, it made me think of both Diamanda Galas and Ozzy bellowing in “War Pigs”. It also brought me back to aforementioned idea that acoustics are can be weapons in the right hands, more so than the sounds of plugged guitars/drums pounding. The chorus of that song is also perversely catchy – almost made me think of both “People That Died” and “Hate Your Friends” in a roundabout way.
The second part of “SAVED!” comes off a bit more subdued and predictable. Or is it? “How can I keep from singing” sounds like a typical gospel song – unless you’re listening to it on headphones, that is. Because if you do you can notice the sound of a conversation in tongues starting around 1:30 or so. Same speaking in tongues that characterized the ending of “I’m Getting Out While I Can” and reminded me of the recordings of a certain Doomsday Cult.
To summarize – this isn’t fast food of music. “SAVED!” forces you to listen from start to finish and concentrate on details, something of a lost art nowadays. Even at its quietest it still manages to grab you by the throat and for that alone, I believe, it will grow on a lot of people, even those new to both Lingua Ignota and the industrial/experimental ouevre.