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Album Review

Melodic death metal and symphonic black metal are not the same thing, but there are certainly strong parallels between the two — both of them offer a more melodic and nuanced approach to extreme metal — and they can easily be combined, which is what Ex Deo (a side project for Kataklysm frontman Maurizio Iacono) do on Romulus. This 2009 release is more death metal than black metal, but symphonic black metal is clearly part of Ex Deo's recipe on an album that is forceful and intense yet intricate and musical. Actually, the most extreme thing about Romulus is the singing; replace Iacono's extreme vocals (which include death metal's "Cookie Monster" growl as well as black metal's evil-sounding rasp) with clean vocals and you would essentially be left with an epic power metal album that incorporates thrash metal elements at times. That epic outlook is quite appropriate given Ex Deo's subject matter; Iacono's side project is obsessed with ancient Rome. Many melodic death metal and symphonic black metal bands have embraced Nordic Viking themes and celebrated the paganism of Scandinavia's pre-Christian centuries, but Ex Deo's lyrics focus on a part of ancient Europe that was much further to the south; Julius Caesar, in fact, is mentioned more than once. Musically, Ex Deo aren't groundbreaking; there have been plenty of melodic death metal/black metal bands with an epic outlook. But lyrically, this album's Roman themes are an interesting departure from all the Nordic and Viking themes that are so common in this type of metal. Anyone who expects Ex Deo to be a carbon copy of Kataklysm will be disappointed; emulating Kataklysm obviously wasn't what Iacono had in mind for his side project, which shows much promise on Romulus.

Customer Reviews

Ave Ex Deo!

This album is a real surprise, I was kinda dissapointed by the slow pace at first, but after a couple spins, I grew to like the epic doomish atmosphere. Plus, the blastbeats seem more enjoyable when they are scarce. The symphonic elements aren't overdone, I feared Jonathan's keyboards would be too present, as they obviously are on Blackguard's last album, but there aren't Eternal Tears of Sorrow-like piano solos and the melodies are mostly played on guitars. Iacono's vocals are great, even though they may seem out of place on a not-so-extreme album like Romulus, and the war speech on track 2 sends shivers down my spine every time. On the whole, a wonderful album, very original and surprising, just as most Canadian bands are .


Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Montreal, Canada's Ex Deo is a side project formed in 2008 by Kataklysm frontman Maurizio Iacono, who wished to combine his death metal experience with his passion for history — in this case, specifically focused on the Roman Empire, as evidenced by the title of 2009's debut album, Romulus. With Iacono handling all lyrics and vocals, the recording lineup was fleshed out by Kataklysm members Stéphane Barbe (guitar), Jean-François Dagenais (guitar), François Mongrain (bass), Max Duhamel (drums),...
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Romulus, Ex Deo
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Customer Ratings