Ex Deo – “The Immortal Wars” (Napalm Records)
Imperious! Stupendous!! Oh, the arrogance of Rome!!! Few musical acts can come close to capturing the essence of one of history’s greatest empires, yet on this unbelievable album Ex Deo have come close as close to Hannibal, the subject of this release, in fulfilling that conquest. The brainchild of Kataklysm’s vocalist Maurizio Iacono, whose Italian ancestral heritage spurred him to form this side project in 2008, Ex Deo have released 2 prior albums that certainly caught my attention for the grand symphonic metal they brought forth, yet not overtly wrapped in any technicality or classical overtones often associated with the genre. Additionally, the heaviness and drive undoubtedly drawn from Kataklysm was perfectly suited to the epic and bloody struggles of emperors, legions and of course, the crushing might of Rome! Despite Iacono at one point stating there would likely be no 3rd album, I’m pleased to say that he has chosen against this and instead delivered a titanic release the choice of which matches Rome’s greatest adversary in Hannibal! Backed by his own cohort of French Canadian Gauls, prepare yourself as Iacono’s launches a musical assault befitting a Roman cavalry charge as he takes you back in history to face ‘Hispania (Siege of Saguntum)’, the hilltop fort where Hannibal slaughtered all the inhabitants who were allied to Rome, while ‘Ad Victoriam (The Battle of Zama)‘ vividly portrays the savagery of the fighting as the legions of Scipio Africanus finally defeated Hannibal’s ferocious war elephants, annihilating thousands of Carthaginians! Ex Deo’s stirring music, backed by the power of their roaring guitars and thundering drums leaves nothing to mind of these brutal battles, yet also with fine class use tasteful ancient melodies, horns and orchestrations to enhance the epic splendor of their material. It’s a stunning job and no better exemplified by the noble closer ‘The Roman’, which takes on film score proportions with rich violins and choirs clashing magnificently with commanding guitars, and not in the least, the battle roar of Iacono himself, clearly visualizing himself as his ancestors bound for glory. A thoroughly impeccable release. You can literally feel the decadence, power and might because it’s all here on “The Immortal Wars” – Ave Roman!