Lingua Ignota continues down her vengeful warpath as the self-proclaimed “Butcher of the World” on her third full-length album. The ground that was last explored on 2017’s All Bitches Die is exploited further on Caligula; the instrumentation surges between harsh industrial and orchestral darkwave and the vocals follow suit with an array of distorted screams and opera gymnastics. There aren’t any individual songs stretching beyond the ten-minute mark this time around, but a longer overall runtime allows for even more punishment to be inflicted and more catharsis to be experienced.
Despite the formula not having changed much between releases, its execution remains impactful. The chaotic instrumentation has clear purpose in its construction as the piano provides a minimalist melodic presence, the percussion (or occasional lack thereof) gives songs a sense of direction, and the ambient soundscapes work to unnerve the listener even when they’re not completely giving way to industrial madness. The vocals are as beautifully unhinged as ever, perfectly portraying the pained empowerment while seemingly serving as an indirect call to arms for those who have experienced similar traumas. The lines on “May Failure Be Your Noose” and “If the Poison Won’t Take You My Dogs Will” are among the most armor piercing.
But if this delivery was hard to swallow on the previous two albums’ forty-minute average runtimes, then it becomes a true test of endurance on the hour-long Caligula. The compositions are all well-written and performed but having eleven tracks results in some stylistic overlap. “Day of Tears and Mourning” serves as the album’s most straightforward pounder and “Do You Doubt Me Traitor” and “I Am the Beast” let some more fluctuating dynamics shift through, but the album’s other tracks mostly stick to a soft or loud template with fewer hints of the other. Sticking to a more compact runtime or exchanging some songs for a couple long epics might’ve offset the album’s exhaustive pacing, but such exhaustion is also right in line with what the music is going for.
While Caligula is just shy of the quality level marked by All Bitches Die, I’ve not heard any other album offer this level of intensity in 2019. The album does little to alter Lingua Ignota’s established formula and might’ve benefitted from some trimming, but the execution remains incredibly authentic. The performances are powerful, and the emotions can be anxiety inducing to all but the most guarded listeners. Lingua Ignota is the sort of artist whose work should come with a trigger warning, but this notion only reinforces its horrifically compelling nature.
“Do You Doubt Me Traitor”
“May Failure Be Your Noose”
“Fragrant Is My Many Flower’d Crown”
“If the Poison Won’t Take You My Dogs Will”
“Day of Tears and Mourning”