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Oakland can do Black Metal too - 82%

CrimsonFloyd, April 10th, 2004

Ludicra is without a doubt one of the more interesting bands to enter into the black metal scene in the past few years. While Ludicra’s influences defiantly shine through in their music (Darthrone, Dissection and Satyricon seemed to all have a big impact on this band) their sound is defiantly unique. For one, Ludicra seem to have more of a doom influence then your typical black metal band, often switching from icy thin riffs of black metal to dark, slow, crushing passages now and again. Ludirca also opt to play most of their softer parts on clean electric guitars as opposed to the typical acoustic guitars most black metal bands use. Sometimes elements of hardcore even seem to slip their way into the bands sound. Never the less, Ludicra are defiantly based in black metal with some of the most deliciously thin riffs one will hear anywhere. The production on this album while not bad, lacks personality as it never really adds anything to the album. The sound is not particularly raw or clean, leaving them in the all too average middle of nowhere. Considering the high level of musicianship within this band, I think they would be much better off going for a cleaner sound, which would fit their sound very well. Ludicra also is distinct in the world of black metal for the fact that two of the members including the vocalist, are female. Although lead vocalist Laurie Sue Shanaman’s voice is very harsh and aggressive it is also distinctly feminine. Alas the listener can quickly point out who Ludicra grew up listening to, however the band still shows quite a bit of originality on their outlook, attitude and execution of black metal.

The album starts out with a blast, with the fierce “Tomorrow Held in Scorn”. Trying to avoid a clichéd atmospheric intro the band bursts right into a spiteful song, keeping up the rage throughout, other then one softer moment in the middle. Defiantly a peculiar choice to put the most aggressive song first, and it defiantly starts the album off in a strange direction, but nevertheless the song is very good. “Hollow Promise” begins with an elegant flute intro (this would of made a much better intro track). It is as if the listener is standing on the edge of a cliff, staring down and then out of nowhere they crash down into the ravine as the band kicks in with a heavy riff and lush female wailing in the background. The song is wonderfully dynamic as it alters from one dramatic riff to the next. “The Final Lamentation” is a moody piece with plenty of clean guitar, which is balanced with heavy riffs layered with Laurie’s banshee like screams. “Userpent” opens with a frantic riff that leads to a piercing scream. The song’s main progression is an excellent, trembling riff, which is played in various tones, progressively getting thinner and thinner until the listener is left shivering from its harsh and bitter brilliance. The song also contains some great moments of Laurie’s growls being backed up with some nice clean female vocals. “Heaped Upon Impassive Floors” is sort of the typical Ludicra song with thin riffs, some female wailing, several interesting clean passages and some slower sludgy moments. “Damn the Night” is extremely dark and moody, living off the equilibrium of a fast riff of a more black metal nature and a slower riff in more of a doomy style. “Tragedia” is a haunting atmospheric instrumental lead by a flute and layered with a strange bellowing instrument and some guitar feedback. The listener feels as if they are being pulled into an Indian monastery, talk about a change of atmosphere! Ludicra saved the best track for last. The sixteen-minute epic “Fade to Grey” starts with several evil riffs in which Laurie’s voice reaches unfathomable levels of wickedness. Next the song feeds into a mid paced riff layered with subtle soloing. Then it falls into a bed of static with some dialogue in the background before breaking out into one final, dark, slow dirge. When listening to the song all the way through, it truly feels as if the bands black hatred is slowly giving way to a gray depression.

All in all Ludicra have created an exciting and dynamic debut album. Even if at times the album is flawed, as the band seems to get lost on where they are trying to go or exactly what they are trying to achieve, they still always manage to sound passionate, energetic and fairly original without separating to far from the realm of black metal. Ludirca will be an exciting band to watch in the future. All the pieces are there for this to be a very special band, its just a matter of them working on their art form; cleaning up the songwriting, progressions and production a bit. Until then, there is still plenty of enjoyment and inspiration to be gained from this solid debut.