Ex Deo

Sorry this review is so late, but ya know Rome wasn’t built in a day…

I wasn’t ever really that enamored with Romulus, the first release of Ex Deo, the epic, Roman themed side project headed by Kataklysm frontman Maurizio Iacono and most of his Kataklysm buddies. It seemed little more than unused Kataklysm riffs (whose recent output I also find boring) with synths and some typically Roman shit going on.  The music just never seemed to match the scope and scale of the subject matter and of their visual material.

But 3 years later, with a new label (Napalm is a much better fit in my opinion), a new bassist, Iacono (still with his pony tail and armor in two) appears to have elevated the material of the band with a bigger sound, better riffs and a few guests to make Caligula a much more interesting, if still a Kataklysm with synths affair.

Essentially, the formula is the same: mid paced death metal akin to marching cohorts and war machines thick with epic synths and rife with Roman stuff,  like battles,  emperors and gladiators – all enforced by all the Latin song titles. See? it doesn’t get more Roman than “Per Oculos Aquila”, “Divide Et Impera”, and “Pollice Verso (Damnatio Ad Bestia)”. But Iacono and co. have at least made the songs a little more dynamic, varied and interesting, if still sticking to the rigid formula and still retained their big budget and slick visuals.

Interestingly enough, the above embedded title track and album opener, is actually the album’s most dull track and if it wasn’t for the video (OK, the thong at 2:18 in the video), the track might put me to sleep. However, the rest of the album is far more interesting if thongless. Notably the likes of  standout “Divide Et Impera” which features alluring female vocal injections (courtesy of Tristania‘s Mariangela Demurtas), the somber march and melodies of “Pollice Verso (Damnatio Ad Bestia)”, slightly more rousing and urgent “Teutoburg (The Ambush of Varus)” and “Along the Appian Way”, (the start of which is one of the few moments on the album that actually comes close to the militant majesty of the Roman Empire,  other than closing instrumental “Evocatio: the Temple of Castor & Pollux”). I know there are synths and some epic shit going on in the lyrics, but this kind of music and subject matter just screams for something completely over the top and movie score symphonic, not just plodding background keys. These guys could learn thing or two from Bal-Sagoth about over the top epic.

And thusly, despite the minor improvement in overall quality of this album, Ex Deo only register slightly on my Richter scale, it’s just lacking something special to make it truly epic befitting the subject matter, and it still feels like a Kataklysm album with synths and togas.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
January 17th, 2013


  1. Commented by: Storm King

    “However, the rest of the album is far more interesting if thongless.”

    January 17, and we already have the winner for Best Line In A Review, Metal Division.

  2. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    I like thongless. the sooner thongs are removed, the better the situation is about to become.

  3. Commented by: E. Thomas

    keep the thong on- its the window dressing for the butt and makes it look better (most of the time).

  4. Commented by: Noch

    Epic review. XD Fucking love how to-the-point this is. I don’t despise these guys’ sound – some tunes are fine for what they are, but I’ll go back to oldschool Kataklysm any day over this. I’m yet to hear a full album from them that feels actually organic. I suppose I’m a tough nut to crack when it comes to symphonic-tinged metal albums – I really wanted to dig this, but did not manage.

  5. Commented by: vugelnox

    never listened to their studio material but these cats have to be one of the most boring live acts I’ve ever had waste 40 minutes of my life.

  6. Commented by: gabaghoul

    finally hearing this, wow love it so far

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