Ludicra Another Great Love Song

The very first black metal release from Alternative Tentacles couldn’t be a better one from Oakland’s Ludicra. Though aggro vets John Cobbett (Hammers of Misfortune/The Lord Weird Slough Feg) and Ross Sewage (Exhumed) are usually the first to be mentioned, the real attraction comes with the group’s two female vocalists: Laurie Sue Shanaman and guitarist Christy Cather. Beginning with acoustic guitars straight out of Paradise Lost’s Shades of God, "The Only Cure, The Only Remedy” dips into the band’s churning, black metal chaos yet retains a doom outlook, much like old My Dying Bride. The exceptional "Let Thirst The Soil” pits Shanaman and Cather’s angelic harmonies against their tormented growls, and the death metal blast-beats eventually ebb to an old Anathema-meets-Obituary pace. "Why Conquer?” blends both vocal styles into a fiery gothic anthem, with nods to Dark Tranquillity and old In Flames to boot. "One-Thousand Wolves” has a distinctly Celtic Frost feel to it, much like hearing Goatwhore’s debut for the first time. "In The Greenest Maze” and "Time Wounds All Heels” are speedier numbers with profuse passages of clever musicianship and fervour, while "Aging Ghost” and its reprise turn back to previous doom-scapes that might resemble a wicked Theater Of Tragedy or Arch Enemy. Amber Asylum’s Kris Force (violin) and Jackie Perez-Gratz (cello) visit to offer classical atmospherics, and the lyric booklet art is among the most creative of the decade. With the sure-fire success of Another Great Love Song, Ludicra will easily be counted among America’s truly innovative black metal outfits sans corpse paint. (Alternative Tentacles)