This quintet from San Francisco has been honing its sound since forming in 1999. The result on Fex Urbis, Lex Orbis is a ride through dark soundscapes filled with dreary doom sequences and sharp black metal passages. Clearly of the OPETH school of songwriting, this album clocks in at just under forty minutes with only five tracks. The dark atmosphere remains throughout the entire album, and the opening track, “Dead City,” quickly establishes the mood with its plodding, doom-ridden intro. The use of acoustic passages and both male and female clean vocals throughout the album helps vary their songwriting approach, and the band smartly uses such techniques sparingly to keep them fresh and interesting when they are heard.
While LUDICRA’s sound has been likened to aspects of DARKTHRONE, GORGOROTH, DODHEIMSGARD, and BETHLEHEM, it should be clear that LUDICRA’s sound is all their own. All of the instruments are played with great proficiency, but no single aspect stands out on its own. Some people may find this album lackluster, but overall each band member greatly contributes to the atmosphere of the songs. However, the songwriting itself is not advanced enough to place this band among the avant-garde of black metal. With that in mind, most old school black metal fans will appreciate LUDICRA’s complete lack of keyboards, orchestral pieces, and choral arrangements. This band is truly about the music made by its members and not about overproduced supporting sounds.
LUDICRA’s third release, Fex Urbis, Lex Orbis, further establishes their sound as one of the more modern, thoughtful approaches to black metal without giving in to the temptations of overproduction, big budget orchestras, or excessive synthesized soundscapes. (Alternative Tentacles Records)