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Ludicra - Fex Urbis, Lex Orbis

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Artist: Ludicra

Album: Fex Urbis, Lex Orbis

Label: Alternative Tentacles

Review date: Oct. 15, 2006

Fex Urbis, Lex Orbis is the record that Prog Metal mistake Enslaved thought they had crafted with this year’s definitive dud, Ruun. The title alone is great, loosely translating to “the shit of the city is the law of the world.” But that’s where the greatness ends. San Francisco’s Ludicra certainly works through their somewhat challenging structures in a more believable and authoritative way than Enslaved, but there’s too little substance behind all of these predictable “twists” and “turns.” The alternating gruff and sweet vocals feel like an uninspired hand-off instead of point-counterpoint; ditto for the guitar work, which brings only one memorable breakdown throughout the entire disc. Don’t fault drummer Aesop, who gives Fex Urbis, Lex Orbis its epic whiff: The guy is a fucking juggernaut, working out fills on cymbal bells, over toms and into the great beyond. It’s a joy to behold for a few minutes; beyond that and it sounds like he’s restraining himself, settling for the same chugging rhythm, suppressed by guitarists that can’t – or won’t – follow him into something dazzling.

Far too many have saddled Ludicra with the Black Metal tag; there’s little to nothing in Fex Urbis, Lex Orbis that connects the band with that tradition. This record shows the band trying to move into the same circles occupied by Kylesa or the sadly defunct Rodan. Ludicra’s movement is hesitant and half-baked, however, resulting in a record that would’ve benefited from more ideas – and more action.

By Stewart Voegtlin

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