Ex Deo - _Caligvla_
(Napalm Records, 2012)
by: Dan Lake (7.5 out of 10)
Ex Deo first reached me through a Sumerian Records promo CD. (Metal mixes are great for switching off the brain and enjoying the sheer power of savagely cranked rock without thinking about album flow or other erudite bullshit.) After banging my head and slapping my steering wheel through several, uh, faceless tunes, some stone-carved Roman rager tore through my speakers and bellowed, "ROMULUS! DEFY ME!" The ancient empire was reborn in the fires of epic death metal, and so was I.

Ex Deo is, essentially, the Canadian death machine Kataklysm with Ashes of Eden bassist Dano Apekian holding down the low end while St├ęphane Barbe takes up second guitar. _Caligvla_ strives to build on the strong shoulders of _Romulus_, Ex Deo's 2009 debut, and while many similar thrills rampage across adequately blood-churned battlefields, the increased presence of cinematic elements (synths, sampled speech, ample space for female choirs and grandiose melodies) leech the record of some _Romulus_'s immediate badassery. That said, the histrionic macho violence smooths out as the album digs into its final third, and the emperor's dark story strikes with more impact without all the gleeful chest-beating.

Sonically, the album carves a chunky midrange sound for itself with relentless rhythmic riffing, exploding drum barrage, and gravelly drill-sergeant vocals. Occasionally, an agile solo flickers out of the punishing cacophony, but _Caligvla_ is truly an album of war anthems, like Rotting Christ's _Aealo_ filtered through several aerated Behemoth records. Historical metal hardly counts as a self-contained genre, but it is certainly an acquired taste. Those who have caught the bug should enjoy _Caligvla_'s righteous raping and pillaging; unbelievers may find just another LARP-friendly soundtrack to scoff at.

Contact: http://www.nuclearblast.de

(article published 7/10/2012)

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