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“Another Great Love Song,” as strange as its title may be, is a fairly accessibly album, even more so than some of Ludicra’s other releases. This is because it goes even further away from black metal and mixes a deranged concoction of all of metal’s subgenres—perhaps including, dare I say it, some –core influences as well. Now, before you go running for your pitchforks, at least consider the unique character of the band in question. Ludicra are like mad scientists, but there’s a method to their madness that combines accessibility with eccentricity.
“The Only Cure, the Only Remedy” starts the album off with the dissonant interplay between acoustic and clean guitars. With paranoid whispers coming into the mix, there’s something not quite mentally well to the atmosphere of “Another Great Love Song.” Fortunately, Ludicra do these sorts of sections very well, which keeps the four longer tracks from collapsing under the weight of their length. Add morose clean female vocals, and you have the atmosphere for something truly off-color.
Unlike on Ludicra’s other releases, Shanaman is at her best here when she is doing her clean vocals, but they appear only rarely. Her approach is very low-key, dispassionate, and captivating in its lazy manner of enunciation. With Shanaman presumably aided by Cather, “Let Thirst the Soil” showcases the perfect example of a sort of anti-angelic choir. It’s not beautiful, but it gives off a sort of vulnerable melancholy that is both broody and attractive.
I say Shanaman’s clean vocals are better here because, in general, the production does not give her shrieks a venomous edge. At times, they sound almost like dry shouting, so that even the furious “In the Greenest Maze” is not convincing. In “One Thousand Wolves,” her growls sound fuzzy and unclear, as though they were cheaply recorded. Regardless, the other musicians do not suffer for it. The drummer and guitarists are powerhouses, capable of shifting between multiple varieties of styles, while the bass rumbles along prominently in the mix.
There is a bit of a messy charm to be had on “Another Great Love Song,” and perhaps it’s because of the production. As accessible as their music is, Ludicra aren’t about being tame and un-provocative, so it’s fitting that there should be some edge to the sound. “Aging Ghost” ends the album on a chaotic note with wild guitars and shrieks galore, but the album as a whole never really escapes digestibility. Ludicra know not to take their neuroses too far, and for that many of their songs retain their solidity and catchiness.
“Another Great Love Song” isn’t the greatest Ludicra album, but it’s not entirely unnecessary. It has its own unique character with its own unique sound, even if it is overshadowed by some of the other releases. Ludicra have always been an interesting balancing act. Their music is not quite sane and not quite a member of any specific sub-genre, but it’s still very easy to listen to. Though there is no folk here, I suppose you could call the style “dark metal,” but I don’t know what that means, and I suspect no one really does. In the meantime, Ludicra will be Ludicra, and “Another Great Love Song” will satisfy those looking for something different.
Sans Kabuki, female fronted black metal that lends itself to the doomier side of the spectrum at times, Ludicra create some massive atmospheres. Their sound is super underground and bordering on necro at times.
Laurie Shannaman sings some pretty atypical lyrics that shy away from obvious references and delve deeper into the dark side of the human psyche. The vox are delivered in a manner that is between a growl and an invocation on ‘Let Thirst The Soil’. The band’s guitar tone is treble tinged while the rhythms arc both frantic and chaotic.
‘One Thousand Wolves’ opens with an uncharacteristic acoustic passage, followed by a haunting croon from the schizophrenic larynx of Ms. Shanneman. This track is eerie and bleak, typifying everything that is great about black metal, while offering up some genre expanding sounds that are a welcome inclusion. Drummer Aesop’s playing is especially of note on this record. His unexpected accents and constant rhythm switching make the band’s music so much more interesting than if the band was led along by blasting snares. Dynamics are the fundamental key to this album’s overall appeal and with the elongated structure of the Ludicra’s material, there is plenty of room for that sort of thing.
‘Why Conquer?’ is a perfect example of this diversity, whereas ‘In The Greenest Maze’ strives toward utter sonic annihilation, a furious flurry of galloping guitars and whirlwind beats. In the massive chords of ‘Aging Ghost’, you will hear both spectral voicing and black howls which reverberate with a vehemence that makes Shanneman among the sickest of female vocalists in the field.
Those leaning toward the left hand path that enjoy a great degree of experimentation and varied instrumentation will find this to be an engaging listen many, many times over, but fundamentally - this is not really black metal.