My familiarization with Ex Deo prior to this album was absolutely none. After a bit of reasearch, I found that the band is essentially Kataklysm under a different name, with two other musicians, to include the former keyboard player from Blackguard, and a different approach to the musical content. In this band, the members focus on Roman history as their subject matter and have much more of a Symphonic Metal edge to the song writing and instrumentations. I’ve never been a fan of Kataklysm, but Ex Deo is different enough that I am giving them a chance to be regulars in my musical rotation.
If I were to describe Ex Deo’s album Caligvla in one word it would be “epic”. As I have said in a previous review, the word epic is tossed around a bit too freely anymore, but it is certainly an apt description in this case. It seems like a heavy symphony after a while and the songs begin to blend together, most not really being unique enough to differentiate among them. There are a few standout tracks, but the bombast in the orchestration tends to overwhelm the songs themselves and leave them sounding much the same across the entire work. Caligvla does seem to be somewhat of a concept album, with its lyrical content being focused on Roman history in the time of the Caesars, but I am not sure that it truly is conceptual in nature. Perhaps it’s like a band like Alestorm whose focus is on pirates, but don’t necessarily put it together in a concept album.
There are several highlights that definitely keep the album interesting and listenable. The album opener, I, Caligvla, is an outstanding track with full on orchestrations, crushing metal and very intense vocals. It’s the best track on the album. Per Oculus Aquila is a slow paced, but immensely heavy track with a mix of death and black metal vocals. Though I am not especially a fan of the black metal type, the layering here helps temper the grating screechiness. I also have a great appreciation for Divide Et Impera, particularly the fast paced, soaring chorus.
Overall, the album sounds ‘big’, with orchestrations and choruses on every song. It’s a solid album in the Symphonic Death genre, but won’t be widely appreciated, although I have heard Sirius play one of the tracks.
Check out the video for I, Caligvla:
I hear the sound in a METAL way.