Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Album Review: "The Immortal Wars" by Ex Deo

No other genre of music has sub-genres like heavy metal does. Not only are there dozens of sub-genres which explain the sonic qualities of a band, but there are sub-genres which are purely thematic which reflect the band’s lyrical content and stage appearance. 

 There is the much celebrated and beloved Viking Metal, Pirate Metal, Teutonic Metal, Egyptian Metal, Pagan Metal and at least a dozen more which are not occurring to me right now. Besides maybe Vikings, there is probably nothing more metal than an armor clad legionnaire charging into combat with the name of Caesar on his lips and the might of Jupiter at his back. So it stands to reason it was only a matter of time before the need for Roman Metal was necessarily met.

I cannot imagine a band could execute it more capably than Ex Deo. The glory of Ancient Rome has never been so appropriately displayed as when Ex Deo storms the stage in garb fit for an invasion of Gaul, whilst performing symphonic death metal.

Any question regarding the greatness of 
Ex Deo is resolved by this photo.
Ex Deo, which originated as a side project of Kataklysm frontman Maurizio Iacono, has been around since 2009, and released two albums prior to The Immortal Wars. Sadly though, the band had been in hiatus for three years while Iacono focused on releasing new material with Kataklysm. I was concerned they might never return, especially since I had not yet seen them perform live. 

Alas, Ex Deo have once again mounted the mighty elephants of metal and crossed the alps with their triumphant new album.  I anxiously await the announcement of tour dates, and hope my town is on their list of places to come, see and conquer.

Thematically, The Immortal Wars tells the story of the second and third century war between Rome and Carthage, collectively known as the Punic Wars, with the exploits of Hannibal being a featured element. The epic nature of the album is accentuated by a brilliant symphonic score which accompanies the death metal on each song.  It serves as soundtrack to a movie I would love to see.

A couple of years ago I applied for Italian citizenship. This application, which seems to be eternally pending at their consulate, may cause me to have more of a fascination with the Eternal City than the typical metalhead.  So perhaps I went into the album a bit biased.  Still, I think these songs are of such supreme quality, one need not care the least regarding the Roman Republic to appreciate the brutal metal delivered by vocalist Iacono , guitarists Stéphane Barbe and Jean-Francois Dagenais , bassist François Mongrain, keyboardist Jonathan Leduc and drummer Oli Beaudoin.

The lyrical content is befitting the epic story it tells. Although the vocals are harsh, and often delivered with the cadence and emphasis of a Roman general barking orders, by the fourth time through the album I was able to discern and appreciate them.

The drums sounded a hybrid of typical death metal double bass aggression and a collection of powerful militaristic marches. It was easy to tell which part of each song was meant to represent an advancing army of elephants.

The guitars were less of a buzzsaw, as you might expect from a melodic death metal band, and more classic metal riff orientated, with an incredible variety of clever progressions and transitions to keep the listener interested through many listens.

There are three types of people who will love Ex Deo. Italians, non-Italians of Italian descent and non-Italians of any descent.  If you fall in any of these categories, you might want to check it out.  Hail Ceasar!!

Release Date: February 24, 2017
Genre: Symphonic Death Metal
Label: Napalm Records


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