Review Summary: Holy music for the unholy mass
Imagine a distant future. Centuries after the current civilizations, cultures and religions are replaced and forgotten. Against an orange dusk’s sky, towers some sort of cathedral of a style you have never seen. Dark facade, angular shapes and huge size make you feel small and intimidated. Inside there’s people underneath a dim neon glow – a ceremony is in process but instead of blessings you hear curses. Unlike the most religions we know today, this one celebrates violence instead of peace; destroying weaknesses and the weak instead of forgiveness; facing the pain instead of running away from it. A beautiful and powerful female voice viscerally screams hymns out, echoes reverberating off the cold, naked concrete walls. Synthetic organs saturated with distortion are so loud you can’t even hear them. The singer starts punching and whipping herself to the blood and the mass culminates with her collapsing on the floor.
Okay, that was edgy but it’s the image that comes to mind with Caligula
. Even though very different from each other, much like Lustmord’s The Word As Power
or Coil’s The Ape Of Naples
, these albums is a religious music for no particular religion. Mostly just a voice and some harmonic rhythm – it’s bare and focused on words, how they sound or what they mean. It’s ceremonial: slow, dramatic, repetitive, repeating, recurring.
Like the previous All Bitches Die
follows the same formula: classical singing followed by guttural screams drenched in noise. But this time death industrial parts are reduced, with more focus being put on vocals and live instruments instead. We have already seen (heard) that Hayter has a great voice and now it’s pushed even further. There’s more emotion (like hyperventilated hysteria) and technique (like throat singing), more experimentation in reverb and harmonic layering. The quiet/loud effect is still used in almost every track, now with extra jumpscares. Some of them are recording imperfections, adding to the intimacy and “live” feeling of the record. Caligula
is more ambitious and epic in its scale and atmosphere.
However it’s too epic for its own good, dragging on a bit too long and diminishing the grandiose effect along the way. There’s three times as many tracks and like a movie monster that with each scene becomes less frightening, same thing happens with the whole singing/screaming dynamic: the effect is less shocking and more tedious as the time goes on. It is possible to have too much of any good thing, after all. In comparison, All Bitches Die
four (or five) tracks were self-sustained and longer passages gave more breathing room. In Caligula
things change faster, not just between the tracks but within them too. Just like post-rock albums work better when they’re 4 tracks of 15 minutes instead of 15 tracks of 4 minutes, so does Lingua Ignota. Both make epic music and epic requires length, buildup, climaxes, pauses. On the other hand, Caligula
achieves this on the album scale by having better defined acts. Openers, interludes and closers contribute to making the whole thing feel like an opera instead of an EP.
If you didn’t like Lingua Ignota before, Caligula
most likely won’t change your mind since essentially it’s more of the same. But if you were a fan before, you should be even bigger one now. The album earns rating points by evolving, refining and polishing the predecessor. Yet the future third release better change the formula, or it will get repetitive if the formula is not changed.