The Best Albums of 2019, #16


16. Lingua Ignota, Caligula (Profound Lore)

Whenever I think of fellow men listening to the brutally, relentlessly confrontational feminist manifesto that is Kristin Hayter’s second album under her Lingua Ignota moniker, I cant help but default to a classic exchange on Friends where a character is trapped in a horrible one-woman show, with the woman screaming in his face:

How could he leave me?!?!

“I…I don’t know…you seem lovely.”

Seriously, though, if there was ever a perfect time for a female artist to tear the patriarchy to shreds, it is now. I have always contended most of the best new music made today is made by women (just look at my year-end lists from this past decade) but somehow women are still marginalized in the music industry. In fact it feels as though we’ve taken several steps backward compared to the 1990s and even the ’80s. So much great new music by women has been shoved aside, if not ignored entirely, in favour of male artists, which makes the fire-and-brimstone of Lingua Ignota so valuable. If no one wants to hear women, be it corporate radio, music publications, or festival bookers, Hayter will make damn sure she, at the very least, is heard. Caligula is merciless: 66 minutes of rage, sorrow, horror, and rage. It’s the musical equivalent of Jean-Léon Gérôme’s La Vérité sortant du puits armée de son martinet pour châtier l’humanité, and I have not heard anything quite like this since Diamanda Galas’s Plague Mass in 1992. The album ranges from opera, to liturgical, to noise, to extreme metal, but those wildly differing styles are interwoven beautifully within a very minimal arrangement. Hayter and her collaborators strove to achieve a consistent sound on Caligula, and pull it off. Lyrically there’s a great deal to unpack, as Hayter assaults the listener with lines like, “Throw your body in the fucking river / I’m the cuntkiller.” There’s a lot of hatred – seriously, a lot – but Hayter insists there’s a lot of love on the record, and she opens up on the final track, declaring, “All I want is boundless love / All I know is violence.” The album leaves an indelible mark, but for me the most affecting piece is “Butcher of the World”, which is constructed around Henry Purcell’s “Funeral Music For Queen Mary”, essentially swiping the piece from the canonical, toxic masculine grip of A Clockwork Orange and using it in a completely different way. Caligula isn’t an album to revisit very often because its immediate power is that unsettling, that memorable, but regardless of how many times you listen to it, it is still a major work. It might not be a fun listen, but it is a mandatory one.