By Rosie Walker
In 2008, Kataklysm frontman Maurizio Iacono broadened his artistic horizons by starting the project Ex Deo. He had a vision to create the first ever Roman themed metal band and tell the epic stories about the ancient nation through his music. In Latin, Ex Deo, means ‘from God’, which is a fitting name, given the inspired work heard on their third album, ‘The Immortal Wars’.
Maurizio made it clear this project would never take the place of his main band, but it’s obvious how close it is to his heart. His love for his heritage and history is evident in Ex Deo’s first two records. Both got considerable attention due to their provoking and thoughtful capability of telling about various events that happened in ancient Rome. After a hiatus, the band is back and have made their third album about the Punic Wars. These wars were a series of battles fought between Rome and Carthage from 264 BC and 146 BC making them some of the biggest fights that have happened in human history. This album takes on the task of explicating and depicting those gruesome events that occurred so many years ago.
The first track ‘The Rise of Hannibal’ erupts like a clap of thunder and instantly transports you to ancient Roman times when things were barbarous. You’re gifted with honest heaviness from the guitars of Stephane Barbe and Jean-Francois Dagenais. Their riffs build a burning in your belly that erupts when they slip into their brilliant breakdowns. You can hear a smirk in Maurizio’s vocals as if he’s got a secret to tell you. There’s a mischievous vibe as he delivers lyrics about honor and death. He projects his storytelling ability with deliberate strength so you can clearly hear the anguish and brutality of the times.
On the next song ‘Hispanic (Siege of Saguntum)’, you can hear the strong influences of SepticFlesh and Keep of Kalessin in the exceptional orchestral arrangements. Oli Beaudoin shines on the drums and relentlessly drives every song with power giving them a very fitting militant feel. ’Suavetaurilia (Intermezzo)’ is a short instrumental movement half way through this 8-track, 40 minute album. This symphonic, cinematic 2-minute burst immerses you even more into the ruthless Roman world.
The story continues with ‘Ad Victoriam (The Battle of Zama)’, where the skills of Oli and bass player Dano Apekian execute a precise pounding that sounds like marching feet. All five band members vividly recreate the chaos of that time and you can really feel the struggles of warfare through their musicianship. The album ends with the ‘The Roman’, a song about the epic showdown between generals Hannibal and Scipio Africanus. Hans Zimmer would be proud of the dramatic aptitude this song reaches. The band spouts a majestic ruthlessness in their ability to play songs about war. Maurizio took his passion about history and created a hauntingly poignant piece about the merciless hard times of ancient Rome.
‘The Immortal Wars’ takes you out of time and completely transports you to another world. Filled with orchestral anthems, vicious guitars, and blast beats, Ex Deo explores themes and sounds that haven’t been done before. To pioneer stories about Rome through metal is a daunting task and they absolutely nailed it. You can learn history while you head bang. So, get this album and get educated with metal!
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Record Label: Napalm
Release Date: February 24th 2017
1. The Rise of Hannibal
2. Hispania (The Siege of Saguntum)
3. Crossing of the Alps
4. Suavetaurilia (Intermezzo)
5. Cato Major: Carthago delenda est!
6. Ad Victoriam (The Battle of Zama)
7. The Spoils of War
8. The Roman