LET THE EVIL OF HIS OWN LIPS COVER HIM by lingua ignota (2017)

hello everyone, athorn is back :) i took a break from neocities because, well, i am in a constant state of fluctuation between obsession and revulsion with any given creative project. but no matter. today i have an album for you that has been stuck in my mind for a month straight. and when i say "stuck in my mind", i am not talking about the silly little earworm from spongebob season 7 episode 20; i'm talking about the dreams about brutally murdering men that have recurred since i discovered this album. this is an extremely intense and vivid piece of music. you have been warned.

lingua ignota is the pseudonym of neoclassical soloist kristin hayter, and i have actually been a huge fan of her since her 2019 release, caligula. comparing caligula with today's subject, LET THE EVIL OF HIS OWN LIPS COVER HIM, will likely reveal to you that miss hayter's sound is both incomparable and immediately identifiable. in every release she combines her classical/operatic virtuosity with violent screaming and cacophony, resulting in this long-form meditation on god's wrath that reportedly awes and terrifies every listener.
at least... that's the easiest way i can describe it. in describing lingua ignota to you, and especially this release from her, i'm purposely being careful - for one, the english language cannot articulate my raw experience with this album nor the level of love and reverence i have for lingua ignota as an artist. but more importantly, the subject matter of this album is hayter's deeply personal experience with abuse, and out of respect for both her and any potential readers that may not be okay with that subject matter, i really don't want to go into explicit detail.
but it's also a bit strange because explicitness is always up to the artist's discretion, right? and i absolutely believe that lingua ignota's music is more an act of reclamation, or perhaps narrative distance, than it is an act of re-traumatization. so i am in a very confusing position of desire to share a piece of music i love, and simultaneous fear of doing so inappropriately. perhaps you can help me decide which is which.

coincidentally, the opening track of this album (DISEASE OF MEN, which is also the preview track i've offered above) concerns the exact same issue. it is essentially an excerpt of aileen wuornos' final interview before her execution in 2002. if you don't know about aileen wuornos, she was broadcasted as a "serial killer" and eventually executed for murdering seven men in self-defense during her time as a prostitute. in the recording, the interviewer begins arguing with her about whether the murders truly were in self-defense - he continually provokes her until she furiously accuses him, the media, and the police department of exploiting her for profit. it is deeply uncomfortable to say the least. you can hear in her voice how painful it is to articulate what actually happened to her, and yet from all sides she's being forced to discuss it over and over under threat of being accused a liar and a psychopath. and it doesn't even make a difference! she is literally on her way to her deathbed and still being made to defend her name.

i seriously have to commend hayter's choice to open this album with such a disturbing audio excerpt. it may be hard to believe but this is the lighter end of this album's subject matter - so it sets the tone without hesitation. but i also think it immediately gives us a hint toward hayter's inner conflict, not just about the legitimacy of her own experiences, but about whether speaking it aloud would aid or poison that legitimacy - whether it would aid or poison her own selfhood.
from this track onward, she simultaneously attempts to meditate on the other perspective of the trauma - the "disease of men", the "master", the one who seeks absolute power through absolute violence. and this is not exactly an act of empathy; anyone who has been made powerless would understand the impulse to rip power back from the one who stole it, to be safe again, at any and all costs. and perhaps that is why a man would commit violence against others. violence is cyclical of course. but inevitably, he throws his victim into that cycle as well. aileen wuornos killed the men who violated her, but what about all the others who don't have a target to direct their rage and hate and helplessness toward? what then?

the climax of this album, THAT HE MAY NOT RISE AGAIN, is the track i wanted to share the most. it is also the track i was most nervous to share. in this track, rather than explicitly take the role of "master", hayter sings a desperate, hateful, terrified prayer: "deliver me, o lord, from the violent men," she repeats in an operatic wail, and then a vicious scream, and then a weak sobbing heave, "let burning coals fall upon him; let the evil of his own lips cover him; let him be cast into deep pits that he may not rise again..."

i cannot describe to you what it is like to listen to her dissolve into tears at the end of this track. in fact it would be ridiculous to attempt to do so. it is the kind of agony that cannot be put into words. it is the kind of agony that, all our lives, we're taught to keep hidden; to water down or belittle for the sake of protecting those who have yet to feel it firsthand. but that's a bit unfair, isn't it? isn't it unfair to unanimously punish a victim for exacting revenge, while the perpetrator is protected, empathized with? isn't it unfair to allow some forms of rage and despair to exist and not others; especially when the latter is justified? isn't it unfair to question the justification of rage and despair, over and over, pretending as if it doesn't instinctually exist in every living thing?

of course, i have always been a pacifist. but that isn't to say i'm a stranger to rage, nor that i'm a stranger to shame and humiliation for knowing that i am full of rage. maybe that's why i love lingua ignota so much. but if anything, i think the level of contemplation i've spiraled into just now is a testament to how authentic and talented kristin hayter really is. this album is not for everyone, i can't emphasize that enough. but if you're open to it, i think you'll find it has profoundly changed you in the same way it has profoundly changed me.
i'd also like to add that there is a new lingua ignota album being released august 6th and i'm so so so so so excited and you all should absolutely listen to it and maybe even purchase it idk. anyway. lol