“The dregs of the city, the law of the earth,” reads the Latin title, quoting Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, an indication of just how the members of San Francisco black metal stalwarts Ludicra view their pretty city on the Bay. Their world doesn’t consist of quaint Victorian houses and Lombard Street; instead, it’s a world of urban decay and disillusionment among the young, which is conveyed with surprising power on the band’s triumphant third album. Led by the stunning female vocal duo of Laurie Sue Shanaman and Christy Cather, Ludicra offers enticing combinations of ear-splitting screams and sumptuous vocal melodies, but the real draw here is the band’s musical versatility, as Fex Urbis Lex Orbis includes hints of spacious post-rock, intense hardcore (most notable in Aesop’s drumming style), and moody goth amidst a backdrop of blistering black metal. With five songs on a 39 minute disc, one might assume the music tends to meander, but that couldn’t be further from the truth, as there’s remarkable focus on these epic tracks, enhanced by some terrific production by guitarist John Cobbett, most specifically on the powerful closing track “Collapse”.
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