It is always a pleasure to review a record which belongs to a band with a long history …
Ex Deo is a Canadian symphonic death metal band formed in 2008 in Montreal, Quebec. It’s the side project of Kataklysm’s frontman Maurizio Iacono and consists of members of Kataklysm and Dano Apekian (Ashes Of Eden). Ex Deo are similar to bands that play theme music like Nile, but musically I could say they are more close to Behemoth, Septicflesh or Dimmu Borgir’s latest works though they are more epic. Their music and lyrics are based on the history of the Roman Empire. After their debut album ‘Romulus’ which was released in 2009 and featured guest appearances by Karl Sanders (Nile), Obsidian C. (Keep Of Kalessin) and Nergal (Behemoth), they return with their second album, ‘Caligvla’, and as you may have guessed it is named after the emperor Caligula, a Roman tyrant who was known for his cruel behaviour. An interesting fact is that August 31, 2012 which is the album’s release date for Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Benelux marks Caligula’s 2000th birth anniversary.
‘Caligvla’ can be referred more as symphonic epic metal with death vocals, than death metal. As the album begins with ‘I, Caligula’ you feel like you are into a Roman arena and the story starts to unfold in front of you. The symphonies and orchestral parts are excellent and you almost think you hear a movie soundtrack. For example the last track of the album, ‘Evocatio: The Temple Of Castor & Pollux’, which is an instrumental song with orchestras and choruses that could easily be the soundtrack of an epic movie about Ancient Rome. Maurizio Iacono who screams the lyrics with spite, achieved an amazing approach to the vicious emperor, and makes you think you hear Caligula himself. The band sounds perfect throughout the album, playing mainly mid-tempo songs where you can hear some fantastic riffs and technical solos like in ‘Per Oculos Aquila’. My favourite song of the album is ‘The Tiberius Cliff (Exile To Capri)’, which combines heavy riffing with the epic sound of the orchestras. Max Duhamel’s clever drumming and Dano Apekian’s bass lines are also remarkable in songs like ‘Teutoburg (Ambush Of Varus)’ and ‘Burned To Serve As Nocturnal Light’. Jean François Dagenais and Stéphane Barbe make the perfect match on guitars sounding tied with the epic war sound that the band contrives. The sound of ‘Caligvla’ is killer and it was mixed by Jean François Dagenais, who has also worked with Malevolent Creation, Misery Index and Despised Icon.
As in the first album, ‘Caligvla’ also features guest appearances. Another interesting fact in the album is that every guest is of Roman or Greek descent. Mariangela Demurtas (Tristania) participates in ‘Divide Et Impera’ with her beautiful voice. Vocalist Stefano Fiori (Graveworm) appears in ‘Per Oculos Aquila’. Seth Siro (Septic Flesh) is responsible for the incredible artwork and layout of the album and also participated in ‘Pollice Verso (Damnatio Ad Bestia)’ where Francesco Artusato (All Shall Perish) has also played a guitar solo.
Ex Deo sound better and more complete than in ‘Romulus’, making a step forward yet retaining the epic vibe of the first album. They have found the way to capture the ancient Roman sound and judging from the Roman Empire history they have many subjects to break down in years to come.
|Track List||Line Up||01. I, Caligvla
02. The Tiberius Cliff (Exile To Capri)
03. Per Oculos Aquila
04. Pollice Verso (Damnatio Ad Bestia)
05. Divide Et Impera
06. Burned To Serve As Nocturnal Light
07. Teutoburg (Ambush Of Varus)
08. Along The Appian Way
09. Once Were Romans
10. Evocatio: The Temple Of Castor & Pollux
|Stéphane Barbe – Guitar
Jean François Dagenais – Guitar
Max Duhamel – Drums
Dano Apekian – Bass
Maurizio Iacono – Vocals