Ludicra - The Tenant
Profound Lore Records
Progressive Black Metal
7 songs (50:54)
Release year: 2010
Official Myspace, Profound Lore Records
Reviewed by Charles
This is a new band for me and it makes me wonder what I’ve been missing on their past three albums. It’s one of those, unfortunately rare, metal albums where each song is crafted individually, each using different tools and a different vision, rather than the more common black metal approach whereby albums are essentially ten or so slabs of similarly-cut red meat. Whilst you wouldn’t call it an “all-star” band, it is comprised of some key figures from some of America’s most celebrated forward-thinking metal acts (Hammers of Misfortune, Agalloch, Wolves in the Throne Room etc…). Shades of all of those bands can be heard in here, and more besides.

So we have seven tracks of what the band (apparently) describe as “grey metal”, which as far I can tell fits, because the closest I can get to a short encapsulation of their sound would be as a progressive black metal band (very comparable to recent Enslaved) heavily diluted by other things. So let’s look in more detail at what is on offer herein.

Stagnant Pond is a sedate start, (in fact, suspiciously so for someone who likes their metal immediate and eviscerating) with a clunking, mid-tempo wash of sound forming a canvass for mournful, evocative clean vocal moaning, heavily reminiscent of Vertebrae, for example. But, paying off the patient listener, this approaches a dazzling climax of intricate and electrifying guitar leads, before sliding gently down the other side again into an Agalloch-like conclusion of rumbling electric rhythm given depth by folksy acoustic twanging in the background. This then gives way to one of the more straightforwardly black metal tune here, A Larger Silence, although here again those clean vocals and acoustic textures stamp Ludicra’s distinctive mark.

Sitting right in the middle of the track listing, and at almost ten minutes in length, The Undercaste is worthy of particular mention as The Tenant’s key landmark. Featuring the same kind of languid, inventive riffing that so characterises guitarist Cobbett’s work in Hammers…, this nevertheless shifts restlessly through a multitude of continuously absorbing and enigmatic ideas. Again, as with Hammers, diversity and dynamics are key, and I’m sure the lyrical themes are very comparable to what you’d find on, say, Fields, although the harsh vocals make it difficult to tell. In its thudding acoustic conclusion there’s also a definite hint of that towering influence on progressive metal, Opeth. As you leave it and progress into the latter half of the album, new ground continues to be broken. Clean White Void is a glorious epic of twisting riffs and lead guitar flair- the latter in particular providing a welcome infusion of cathartic flamboyancy in a record that often seems restrained and in control even in its most black metal phases. (Even the blastbeated drama of The Truth Won’t Set You Free features compositional twists and clever ideas, making it seem more like a carefully guided power drill than an unwieldy black metal jackhammer).

Difficult, then, to convey accurately what is going on here, but I hope that the various obvious influences listed above should give you a reasonably good idea. Followers of the band’s related projects will likely be pleasantly unsurprised by what they hear on The Tenant, and this should have obvious appeal to anyone drawn in by moves towards windswept progressive influences within the wider black metal scene as well. An album of power and subtlety.

Killing Songs :
Stagnant Pond, The Undercaste, The Truth Won't Set You Free
Charles quoted 85 / 100
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