‘Caligvla’ is the second offering from the Rome obsessed Canadian Death Metallers: Ex Deo. Following on from 2009 debut ‘Romulus’, the new album carries on the themes and styles of the first album by planting you firmly ringside in ancient Rome, almost witnessing the chaos first hand.
The word ‘epic’ is used a lot these days; often to describe a larger than average sandwich or something similar. With ‘Caligvla’ however, I think the term can be used comfortably. The album oozes Roman influence from the album cover, the dramatic background music, the lyrical themes, the huge rolling riffs and most importantly through Maurizio’s vocals.
In contrast to his day job in Kataklysm where he employs a familiar and traditional death metal growl, the vocals in Ex Deo are far more suited to the theme. He shouts out the battle cries like a Roman King rallying his troops for war. Meanwhile, the melodic death metal soundscapes build up all the feeling of being right there in the fray. Ex Deo manage to convey their vision of ancient Rome with little more than their instruments in a similar fashion to the way Nile can sweep you away to the Catacombs, just by tweaking the death metal sound.
The album plays like a film soundtrack. There are a few sound-bites in between and over some songs which add to this feeling of a screen play taking place in your speakers. The songs can more than hold their own without the trimmings though.
Album opener ‘Caligvla’ kicks off with all the strings and pomp of the 20th Century Fox introduction, but this soon gives way to the marching title track which sets the stall out for the rest of the album. Plenty of driving riffs accompanied by Maurizoi’s vocals, which are constantly laying down the law. ‘The Tiberius Cliff’ turns up the epic setting to eleven as the riffs seem to be built like castle walls and the vocal line “I am Tiberius” resonates around them.
‘Along the Appian Way’ is a heavier number which rumbles away with a more traditional death vocal whereas ‘Divide et Impera’ has a female led chorus line to provide some contrast to the macho battle tunes.
Let’s face it, if your dubstep loving mates heard this they would laugh their socks off. Metal is about escapism though, and Ex Deo certainly don’t do things by half. It’s over the top, but that is exactly what makes ‘Caligvla’ so great. The band encapsulate their vision perfectly in this collection of songs and when they are put together like this, it’s epic!