December 9, 2012

Ludicra - Hollow Psalms

Review by Justin C.

Cover by Aesop

Ludicra disbanded in 2011, but luckily for us all, they've just recently started posting their earlier work on Bandcamp as pay-what-you-choose downloads. This includes their excellent first full-length, Hollow Psalms.

Photo by Taylor Keahey.

As with most of their work, Ludicra brings a lot of different elements to their black metal base on Hollow Psalms. Besides the blast beats, tremolo picking, and vocal roar you'd expect, you'll also find radical tempo shifts, chant-like clean vocals, acoustic guitar, and even the occasional flute. None of this is new to black metal, but Ludicra's brilliance was in combining all of these seamlessly. The opening track, "Tomorow held in Scorn," opens in full fury, but it's not long before the song shifts to a slower tempo and slips into a quiet, almost jazzy interlude before going back on the attack. The title track opens with an acoustic guitar accompanying a mournful flute line, but this isn't pretty filler. The acoustic guitar is played with a heavy attack, almost as if the guitarist is trying to pull the strings off the guitar. It may be quiet, but it perfectly sets the mood before the rage starts. "Heaped Upon Impassive Floors" alternates between full-band blasts and an eerie, clean electric guitar line. If all of this sounds a bit schizophrenic, it's not. All of these different sounds aren't thrown in for their own sake--they serve the music.

Photo by Taylor Keahey.

The production is clean and precise without sounding slick. One of the results is that beast so unusual in black metal: an audible bass line. Ross Sewage's fluid bass lines act as a true complement to the guitars instead of simply doubling them and disappearing in the mix. The combination of the bass and Aesop's drumming make for a rhythm section that's worth listening to in its own right.

As of this writing, the band has also posted their self-titled EP and the full album Fex Urbis Lex Orbis. All three of these are "deluxe" packages, including CD liner notes, poster art, and even some videos with the downloads. If you're like me and found out about this band only after they'd broken up, you'd do well to pick up everything you can. According to the band's Facebook page, they see this as a non-profit activity, with any donations being used to fund the free download option. Go download all of this, kick in some cash if you can, and enjoy this amazing band's legacy.

[Go to the post to view the Bandcamp player]

Tagged with 2002, black metal, Justin C, Ludicra, Taylor Keahey
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