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Ex Deo: The Thirteen Years of Nero

There’s nothing quite like recounting the exploits of emperor Nero to get people talking (and worrying). For Ex Deo, this subject comes easily. The band has been drawing inspiration from ancient Rome for several years and their output has been nothing short of stellar. This album is no exception; it may even be the band’s best yet.

If you haven’t listened to Ex Deo, they can be described as a cinematic death metal band with a knack for pummeling riffs, complex songwriting, and orchestral arrangements that no less driving and intense. This is not surprising since the band draws on the talents of Clemens Wijers (Carach Angren, Lindemann) to develop the orchestral scores. Like Carach Angren, Ex Deo draws on those elements to make things even more intense and essential. Joining Wijers, of couse, are frontman Maurizio Iacono (Kataklysm), Jean-Francois Dagenais (Kataklysm, Misery Index, Despised Icon) on guitar, and newcomer Jeramie Kling (Venom Inc.), on drums.

Together, Ex Deo has created an album band that takes listeners on a psychologically driven journey involving politics, paranoia, and collapse. Listeners won’t catch all the lyrics on the first listen (and probably not on the second) but there are enough speeches and repeated lines to keep most people abreast on the ways Rome, already on the brink of collapse, discovers just how bad things can get.

The first four tracks on this album are essential listening. They are pounding and brutal and cinematic in all the right ways. Not only are the themes well realized, but the music carries them perfectly. The vocals on “The Fall of Claudius” (particularly in the repeated line “different, but good”) convey a sense of loss and menace that I found quite memorable. Equally solid was “Imperator,” a track that carries the weight of the theme even further. This track also shows off the band’s complex arrangements and their willingness to experiment without ever losing their overall sense of brute force. “The Head of the Snake” takes things up a notch by introducing a fair amount of thrash into its story of rising paranoia and concern. And then “Boudicca” brings on guest vocalist Brittany Slayes (Unleash the Archers) in a memorable and powerful performance.

If, like me, you find these songs soaring and intense, you’ll probably keep going, and you should. Things stay just as intense and interesting for the rest of the album and it’s all worth checking out. Yes, there’s a short intermezzo that will allow you to catch your breath, but things stay just as intense and interesting on “The Fiddle and the Fire,” “Son of the Deified,” and “The Revolt of Galba.” I was especially fond of the low end chug on “Son of the Deified” and the lyre on “The Fiddle and the Fire.”

This is an excellent release, one that does everything it promises to do while also offering plenty of variety, intensity, and surprise. Highly recommended!

Track Listing:
1. The Fall of Claudius
2. Imperator
3. The Head of the Snake
4. Boudicca (Queen of the Iceni) [feat. Brittany Slayes]
5. Britannia 9th at Comuldonum
6. Trail of the Gods (Intermezzo)
7. The Fiddle and the Fire
8. Son of the Deified
9. What Artist Dies in Me…
10. The Revolt of Galba

Added: October 30th 2021
Reviewer: Carl Sederholm
Score:
Related Link: Band Twitter Feed
Hits: 341
Language: english

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