For some, the black metal genre's tendency to howl about D 'n' D imagery -- mythical battles, orcs, dragon-slaying, etc. -- can prove an impassable barrier. That's where Ludicra steps in. The San Francisco band seemingly forged its own subgenre when vocalist Laurie Shanaman decided to explore more modern, albeit depressing, themes -- like drug addiction and suicide. To boot, the band's compositions, lack of cheese (i.e., synths), and hair-raising vocals courtesy of Shanaman and Christy Cather, puts it well ahead of the dime-a-dozen metal bands. Ludicra's strong, clear vision is prominent on its fourth album, Fex Urbis Lex Orbus (meaning "dregs of the city, law of the earth"), released back in August on Alternative Tentacles. Listen to "In Fever."