LYDIA LUNCH'S whole career is testimony to the indulgences that punk and new wave have invited in the name of creativity. On her new six-song EP, "In Limbo," Lunch wallows in a gothic musical nightmare that could be taken as a joke if she weren't so straight-faced.

With Jim Sclavunos' saxophone mimicking the sounds of tortured children, these six tuneless, plodding dirges are supposed to envelope Lunch's poetic nonsense in a foreboding atmosphere of gloom and doom. Doomed we are, as Lunch subjects us to a moaning and groaning display of poetic excess heavy on references to spirits, flesh, blood, lust, tombs and graveyards. When Lunch wails, "The earth spits blood and swallows us whole," you can only hope this album is left behind.

Lunch also shows up on four cuts of No Trend's new album, "A Dozen Dead Roses," where she is used effectively as a haunting echo to lead singer Jeff's incisive ranting.

No Trend, a local group that began as an abrasive alternative to D.C.'s hardcore punk scene, has evolved into the most stylistically imaginative and lyrically scathing band connected to the local punk scene. Love is its subject, and No Trend's soul-baring, torturous and often sarcastic commentary rings painfully true in ways that pop's typical romantic bromides rarely do.

Led by Jim Jones' riveting psychedelic guitar lines, No Trend flaunts a new-found compositional flair and emotional depth on this record that should command national attention.

Jones' steely guitar figure leads a fast-paced romp, "Tear You Apart," that cleverly segues into a grinding excerpt from "Heartbreak Hotel." Jeff employs his varied deliveries -- cathartic screaching, deadpan recitals and mocking tirades -- to maximum effect, even adding an eerie falsetto to "Karma Nights." All this on one of the best local records of the year by an anguished mile.

LYDIA LUNCH -- "In Limbo" (Doublevision DVR5).

NO TREND -- "A Dozen Dead Roses" (NT-003); Lunch and No Trend appear at Friendship Station Sunday night.