Another Great Love Song

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With their second album, 2004's ironically titled Another Great Love Song, Ludicra took immediate steps to broaden their sound and confound anyone inclined to pigeonhole them as a straight-up black metal band. Such limiting accusations may have been somewhat applicable to their first effort, two years earlier, but versatile new songs like "The Only Cure, the Only Remedy" and "Time Wounds All Heels" constantly shuffle savage black metal in with more "civilized" doses of goth melody, progressive tendencies, stark acoustic strummings, and dense electric guitar orchestrations. The latter inevitably lead one to conclude that guitarist John Cobbett, of the Lord Weird Slough Feg and Hammers of Misfortune cult legend, is stepping up his involvement in Ludicra's songwriting and arranging process, but only short-sighted black metal purists are likely to care, and even their needs are suitably served by uniformly vicious offerings like "One Thousand Wolves" and the hardcore-fast "In the Greenest Maze." Still, for all their unquestionable power, this pair doesn't hold a candle to the more daring compositions cited earlier, nor additional highlights like "Let Thirst the Soil," "Why Conquer?," and "Aging Ghost." All of them see Laurie Sue Shanaman's acid-corroded vociferations (still prevalent and still barely recognizably human, never mind female) making room for sweet, tuneful crooning contributions from guitarist Christy Cather -- a striking contrast producing truly tantalizing results. In short, although Ludicra's unorthodox approach and sheer sonic extremism remain unapproachable to 99 percent of the music-buying public, heavy metal cognoscenti will recognize Another Great Love Song as the band's membership pass into the Bay Area's idiosyncratic fraternity of ruthlessly groundbreaking bands.

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