For what started as a side project of Kataklysm, Roman metal warriors Ex-Deo has grown into a mighty beast of its own. Like one of Hannibal’s war elephants, the group (which went on hiatus in February 2014, but came back in September 2015 for another campaign) have once again created a war beast of an album. If I were to go to war for the Roman Empire, I’d pick The Immortal Wars as my soundtrack.
Tackling the wars with Hannibal, Ex-Deo’s third album is a valiant tale of Romans vs Carthage, full of heavy riffs backed by an epic orchestra backing track. One of the strengths of Ex-Deo is their ability to take the listener to Ancient Rome, for an album immersed in history it tells a well crafted tale. ‘Cato Major: Carthago Delende Est!’ captures the story of a Roman army marching off to war guided by Mars, while ‘Crossing of the Alps’ feels like a dangerous journey across treacherous terrain.
Frontman Maurizio Iacono is a commanding presence on the album,fitting into the role of a Centurion perfectly. When he gives the order to “bring me the head of the lion” on ‘Ad Victoriam (The Battle of Zarna),’ you better bring him that damn head. The rest of the band play their parts well, kicking off the year with some expertly played death metal. While Kataklysm are more in your face and explosive, Ex-Deo are more melodic while still being as heavy as the armour of a Roman soldier. It’s a mighty album that warrants a few returns to the battlefield.
As soon as I heard ‘The Rise of Hannibal,’ I knew I was in for a long overdue treat. Ex-Deo have created an absolute smasher of an album. A fine return to form for an extraordinary band. What the band have forged here are eight solid songs that are worthy of Ceasar himself.
Best songs: The Rise of Hannibal, Cato Major: Carthago Delende Est and The Spoils of War.
1. The Rise of Hannibal
2. Hispania (The Siege of Saguntum)
3. Crossing of the Alps
4. Suavetaurilia (Intermezzo)
5. Cato Major: Carthago Delende Est!
6. Ad Victoriam (The Battle of Zarna)
7. The Spoils of War
8. The Roman
Maurizio Iacono – vocals
Stéphane Barbe – lead guitar
Jean-Francois Dagenais – rhythm guitar
François Mongrain – bass guitar
Jonathan Leduc – keyboards
Oli Beaudoin – drums