I am sad to say that the Oakland based black metal band Ludicra has broken up. Ludicra have been a signature act within the Bay Area metal scene for the past decade. Over the past few years they have finally began to gain wider recognition for their high caliber albums and performances. Ludicra played a style of melodic black metal inspired by acts such as Darkthrone, Satyricon and Dissection. However, they were never afraid to let their other influences shine through. Aspects of doom, heavy metal and hardcore were all tastefully integrated into their sound. The members continually progressed as musicians, improving leaps and bounds with regards to the technicality of their performances. Most notably, Laurie Sue Shanaman has one of the most intense and dynamic voices within black metal. Her voice ranged from the spine shivering banshee howls to deep, guttural growls.
Ludicra were also a rare instance of gender equality in metal. Women in metal are rare enough to begin with. When women are in bands, too often they only get spots as clean vocalists. While I have no problem with a good female singer in a metal band (there have obviously been some praise worthy results) Ludirca proved that women could do extreme metal and that men and women could come together to create kick ass metal. When you listened to a Ludicra album or concert, you’d didn’t think about the band members’ gender, you thought about their power and force of their music.
The band members were also class acts. When I was 19 I wanted to go to one of their shows, but it was at a bar. On a longshot, I emailed guitarist Christy Cather, who like me, also lived in Santa Cruz. To my surprise, she was more than happy to give me a ride to San Francisco, let me pose as a roadie and get into the bar, no questions asked. All the band members were always humble and conversational, willing to talk about their music, the metal world in general or whatever else.
I saw Ludicra perform four times and on each occasion they put on an intense and powerful performance. Many friends of mine who had never been to a black metal concert said it was much better than they imagined. Their energy and passion really captivated crowds—whether or not they were fans of extreme metal or not.
For those who haven’t heard Ludicra before I highly recommend their albums “Hallow Psalms” and “Fex Urbis Lex Orbis” for intense and visceral black metal performances. Their swansong “The Tennant” is also very good and shows the band at a more mature stage. Though this is the end of Ludicra, I hope to see the members continue performing. Drummer Aesop Dekker is already making excellent contributions to Agalloch. Here’s hoping that the other members find new bands or projects. Otherwise, we are left with memories of great albums and some great cuts of black metal.