Friday, 23 April 2010

Ludicra - The Tenant

Ludicra - The Tenant, 2010 (Profound Lore - PFL056) 90%

San Franciscans Ludicra are unusual for a black metal band in that they count among their number two women (vocalist and guitarist) and yet there is absolutely nothing ‘gothic’ about them. In fact, Ludicra have links to the crust and grindcore scenes and the gritty elements to their sound owe in part to this and also to the city that spawned them; many of their themes deal with the struggle and grime of daily life in San Francisco. ‘Black metal with a social conscience’ I hear you cry! I believe I’m right in saying that frontwoman Laurie even helps out at the soup kitchen. Yes, it would appear that Ludicra’s distance from the original xenophobic, nihilistic black metal scene is more than mere geography. Ludicra are one of the most idiosyncratic of USBM bands, using black metal as the canvas onto which they splash the paint of many an outside influence.

The Tenant represents the band’s fourth album proper, since their exhilarating albeit raw debut Hollow Psalms. It also marks their debut on ever-reliable label Profound Lore, who give the release their trademark digipak makeover and a rather sexy gloss/matt hybrid cover. The interplay of Laurie’s acidic black metal rasp and understated clean vocals is excellently implemented and never sounds forced or overly artistic as it can on say an Opeth album.

The songwriting undergoes an improvement again even after the amazing Fex Urbis Lex Orbis. It would be fair to label The Tenant as not only Ludicra’s most ambitious work to date but also their most diverse. One might surmise that the band’s heavy touring with prog-metal troupe Hammers Of Misfortune has rubbed off on them somewhat. The percussive element is superb and varied, which one might expect considering that the drummer is, as ever, none other than Aesop of Agalloch fame. There is nothing left to say but to heartily recommend that you pick up a copy of this sprawling post-black metal masterpiece.

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