Ex Deo

Maurizio Iacono and the Canadian hyper blasters Kataklysm have spread their wings in 2009 and ventured away from their usually reliable racket to deliver us a tasty concept album on the fall of Rome, dubbed Romulus.

Ex Deo consists of the entire Kataklysm line-up and Jonathan Leduc (Blackguard) on keyboards. The idea was the brainchild of Iacono and the sound created is best described as epic death metal/melodic death metal. Luckily, the band was able to pull off a quality album that is significantly different than anything Kataklysm has done and actually is more interesting and varied. The only thing reminiscent of Kataklysm at all is Iacono’s vocals at times and the guitar tone.

“Romulus” germinates this album with epic keys similar to that in a movie as the song slowly pounds it way into battle. Keys play a big part in the music but they are only used to thicken atmosphere. Most of the accents are horn or chant sounds. Samples can be heard as well. A lot of what is going on within the atmosphere of Romulus is similar to that of Nile or Behemoth with the Egyptian and ancient tones. Harmonized guitars flourish through this album as well as excellent solo work. Just about every tune on this record carries a health solo. Even Karl Sanders (Nile) stops by for a solo on “The Final War (Battle of Actium).”

Vocally, Maurizio has a distinguishable tone with his deep death bellows and shrieking highs, though he has striven to change his delivery by yelling (very clearly) his cries. Obviously, the man knows his history when it comes to the concept because lyrically this is a very interesting album and I imagine it took some time to put this bad boy together. Romulus is like the soundtrack to Gladiator or 300. I must say, I am impressed with the vocals more than anything.

Other guest appearances include Negral (Behemoth) on “Storm the Gates of Alesia” and Obsidian C (Keep of Kalessin) adds another layer of riffs to “Cruor Nostri Abbas.” None of this is noticeable if you weren’t listening for it.

Bottom line- this is a very solid release for fans of doomy, triumphant, melodic death like Amon Amarth and select Kataklysm but also for the fans of “war/battle metal” like Turisas, Thyfing, and Ensiferum. The impressive thing is the atmosphere and quality songwriting. I doubt this will be on anyone’s year end lists but it sure is a great CD worth attention.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Shane Wolfensberger
July 3rd, 2009


  1. Commented by: Red

    Really good review. I myself was really impressed how they were able to keep things from sounding too much like Kataklysm. This also made me think of Nile in a few different ways (atmosphere & presentation). The real complaint that I have though is that the production seems a little flat/thin. There’s no gut-gripping low end to make these songs really storm over you. I’m not looking for bass “bombs”, but some heft/meat in the production could have made this a better listen.

  2. Commented by: Shane

    Could have used a lot of things, but I must say for an album I was expecting to be a flop, it’s good.

  3. Commented by: Coles

    the drum production on this thing is horrible and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t intentional so that they could avoid comparisons with Kataklysm. I mean the drumming on this thing might as well have come from a different drummer altogether, they didn’t need to produce the drums differently as they’re played in a different style IMO.

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