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Great Debut - 89%

Vor, December 2nd, 2004

Well now we have black metal coming from the frosty tundras of...Oakland California. Not bad seeing that the city is near San Francisco which has some superb black metal acts such as Leviathan, Crebain, and Xasthur. However, perhaps the most interesting thing to know about Ludicra is that they have the one and only Ross Sewage from the comedic death/grind band Impaled. Who would have ever thought this guy would be playing in a black metal band? Anyway, Ludicra have entered the scene with some black metal that seems influenced by Dissection, Naglfar, and other melodic acts, as well as some touches of hardcore tossed in the mix.

The album blasts open immediately with fast riffs, hardcore drumming, and brutal high black metal screams by Laurie Sue Shanaman (yes, this is a female fronted black metal band). The vocals sound very similar but even better than say Angela Gossow's from Arch Enemy. Shanaman's style is more screamy and aggressive than Gossow's and has so much power in her performance it's amazing to think that it is a woman doing the vocals. She outdoes many of the male black metal vocalists in the scene, many of which use distortion to make their voice sound more grim. The music is melodic, aggressive, and catchy. Ludicra have created their own style of black metal that doesn't sound quite like anything else. It has a hardcore force, yet a dark and brutal black metal sound. They top it off with nice clean production that doesn't have any flaws. Every instrument sounds great and nothing is overpowering.

The best song on the album in my opinion has to be "Hollow Promise" which begins with a hypnotic flute and then bursts with fast drums, riffs, and haunting backround clean female vocals. The song perfectly resembles the style which Ludicra play. Shanaman sounds like she is really passionate about what she is screaming on this track as she gives a very aggressive performance. Overall the song is melodic, catchy, and dark, keeping all of those ingredients at perfect equilibrium with one another.

This is not really raw, but definately some good aggressive black metal. Ludicra have shown that they are paving a road of their own and are not turning back. Plus they are perhaps the most recognized black metal act in Oakland (if not the only one). There is an incredible amount of potential for this band and this debut is better than what many bands come up with that have been around for an extremely long time. Pick this one up to experience the beginning of a great new band emerging into the scene.