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Fex Urbis Lex Orbis

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Ludicra takes the title of their second Alternative Tentacles release Fex Urbis, Lex OrbisÑthe Latin phrase meaning ”dregs of the city, law of the earth”Ñfrom Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. While the pop culture machine managed to make a hit Broadway musical out of it, Ludicra’s emotional and seemingly humanistic approach to black metal seems strangely more faithful to Hugo’s vision. Musically, everyone seems to agree that Ludicra is a one-of-a-kind band: their complex instrumentation and untraditional songwriting transcend the typical bounds of black metal (like fellow SF black metal hordes Leviathan, Draugar, Weakling, etc.), incorporating elements of crust, avant-rock, and death metal. Fex Urbis, Lex Orbis builds upon their previous release Another Great Love Song (Virus 321), continuing with the musical motifs of corrosive urban decay filled with despair and nihilism. With an ever-expanding fanbase straddling many scenes and a groundswell of critical acclaim from key publications, Ludicra’s Fex Urbis, Lex Orbis is sure to be one of the highlights of 2006 and continues an Alternative Tentacles tradition of releasing the best in progressive heavy sounds (ie. Neurosis, Zeni Geva, Comets on Fire, Skarp, etc).

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  • The Bay Area was once the hotbed for thrash and speed metal, birthing classic bands like Testament, Exodus, Forbidden, and yes, even Metallica (it’s where Kirk and Cliff joined up). Seems like it’s going through another metal renaissance of late, as one of the hotspots of the American black metal scene (USBM). Prolific acts like Leviathan and Xasthur (and Weakling, sadly defunct now) have taken the works of genre forebears like Burzum, Darkthrone and Emperor and spiraled them down into new depths of dread and madness.

    It’s not all howled vocals and chilling soundscapes, though – take Ludicra, who smashes black metal together with stoner rock and hardcore punk for a progressive, post-BM sound. Great, buzzy melodic riffs produce a really satisfying, thrashy charge, suggesting a more furious version of Satyricon’s recent stripped-down take on black metal. But then songs slow down to work in more progressive, doomy riffs, enveloping you in a more thoughtful, transportive state. It’s all done tastefully and organically, making for surprising compositions that continually keep your interest. Vocals are a double-edged affair as well – a raspy, spitting screamer trading off with a more atmospheric, ethereal crooner. Both singers are also female, adding to the mystique.

    Unpredictable without being overly chaotic or impenetrable, Ludicra has definitely made their mark on the US underground scene with this one. 4.25/5.

    Posted on February 3, 2010 - Permalink - Buy Now