Originally written by Jeremy Garner
While normally these sorts of things don’t matter in the least to me, I find it compellingly interesting to point out a few distinctive anomalies present. Part of the reason for my dumbstruck amazement is fact that we have on our hands a truly unique lineup due to the sheer range of the musicians present within Ludicra. While the involvement of guitarist John Cobbett (Slough Feg, Hammers Of Misfortune), and the inclusion of gore worshiping psychopath Ross Sewage (Impaled) on bass may only illicit the occasional raised eyebrow, nothing is quite out of the usual order of the day until we start talking about drummer Aesop from the smoked out mainstream style punk rock band Hickey, and the two female members vocalist Laurie Shanaman and guitarist/vocalist Christy Cather we definitely have on our hands one of the most diverse and anti-traditional lineups I’ve seen in black metal, and to boot, they’re to be found on punk legend Jello Biafra’s own label Alternative Tentacles.
Those cynics who would expect a slightly sporadic or off kilter approach to the genre as a whole should be pleasantly surprised. Let me assure you, the finished product is truly charming. While not overbearingly progressive or avant-garde, Ludicra have certainly taken no small step at crafting a very individualistic sound that while embracing the main points of the style, has ventured off into it own distinctively modern territory. Quite obviously this come out in their favor, producing music that at once stands out from the status quo yet is simultaneously one that can be easily embraced. Rather than submit to the usual idioms of violins and ornate orchestrations to push forward their music into differing territory, Ludicra retains a down to earth, yet thoughtful approach that interweaves the occasional clean vocals and acoustic guitar passages with the relatively caustic, yet undeniably catchy gait of tracks like “In Fever”.
While the band has always had a distinctively dark undertone, a good bit of the more drone aspects and faster blasting sections of their impressive Another Great Lovesong release have somewhat quieted more as a backdrop than the full focus of the material. While there’s still plenty of variety and substance to be found riddled throughout the five tracks, from the melancholy doom of “Dead City”, the dark drive and melody of “Only a Moment”, and the grandiloquent meanderings of “Collapse”, overall I would have to say that Ludicra have settled down a bit, focusing more on a delivery that primarily synthesizes these alternate aspects of their sound into one primary focal point. I don’t mean to imply that the band has become more bland with time, but this added focus to their sound has allowed for each song to stand on its own merits while still distinctively separating itself from its surroundings, and rather than having a few standout tracks sprinkled here and there, each of the five songs on Fex Urbis, Lex Orbis is one worth both pride and admiration.
While probably not hell bent on taking the musical world by storm, Ludicra are at the very least capable of releasing decidedly consistent and enjoyable albums, while perhaps not revolutionary in their scope, Ludicra carry enough panache to make them a mainstay in my collection. There may be better albums this year, but Fex Urbis, Lex Orbis is one of those CD’s that I truly do cherish and enjoy out of what is otherwise oftentimes unimaginative and uninspired genre.