Show Review: Ludicra, Sonja, and Hath At Saint Vitus Bar

The evening marked Ludicra's final New York show

Dark clouds and thunder rolled through Brooklyn, NY last night, as the audience bid farewell to Ludicra – with support from metal’s gothic royalty Sonja, and rising death metal locals Hath. The evening marked Ludicra’s final New York show, prompted by a one-off reunion show at Seattle’s Northwest Terror Fest in 2022. Old fans came out to celebrate the band one last time, but for anyone who stumbled across the band in the last decade, this was their first and last opportunity to see the band live before they call it quits. Taking the stage at the legendary Saint Vitus Bar, the room was packed, and the show hit like a hammer.

Hath kicked off the night with their brand of South Jersey death metal. No riff overstayed its welcome as the band pummeled through their set. Despite the speed and intensity of their material, drummer AJ Viana’s constantly shifting groove kept the audience on their feet. Each song was well-crafted and refined, and the band easily put on the tightest performance of the night. Vocalist and guitarist Frank Albanese made the entire affair seem effortless, holding down his half of guitar duties while seamlessly sliding from low death metal growls to a more blackened scream. The occasional use of clean, harmonized vocals is something a lesser band would’ve piped in over a backing track, but Hath did not compromise and pulled it off live.

Radically changing gears, Sonja took the stage for a more reverb soaked, lower-gain approach to goth-tinged heavy metal. Despite being a three piece, the band managed to completely fill the stage with their presence. Guitarist and vocalist Melissa Moore exudes a quiet confidence, completely in control of the audience. No moment exemplified this more than when she simply placed a finger over her lips, hushing the packed room mid-song, before leading the band into the next drop. On the opposite end of the spectrum, drummer Grzesiek Czapla’s chaotic energy constantly drew your eyes to the center of the stage. With one full-length album to their name at the moment, 2022’s Loud Arriver, the room lit up from the opener When the Candle Burns Low… to the sing along single, Nylon Nights, and the whole room moved to Pink Fog. Stage banter was limited to the bare essentials: that trickle-down economics is a broken system, fucking us all, and of course, a cry to “pump your fists and shake your ass.” The audience happily obliged. Though they were direct support for Ludicra, this is a band ready for a headlining slot and poised to take over the festival scene.

And finally, Ludicra stood in front of the audience, breaking the silence with Stagnant Pond, to an adoring audience. Though it felt like they needed a few minutes to shake off the cobwebs and let the muscle memory kick in, by the time they ripped into Userpent, the band seemed comfortable in their own skin again and tightened up immediately. What followed felt like an emotionally unhinged performance (in the best way possible), especially for vocalist Laurie Shanaman, who puts most black metal vocalists to shame with her raw screams and wailing. Though their songs are on the longer side, the set seemed to move incredibly quickly, with blast beats and tremolo riffs punctuated by passages of shimmering clean guitars and restrained drums. I normally wouldn’t use the word “wholesome” to describe a black metal show, but there was a general feeling among the audience that we were witnessing something special, as Ludicra graced NYC for the first time in twelve years, only to disappear again.

Article and Photos by: Tom Mis



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