Saturday, 7 November 2009

CD Review: Romulus, by Ex Deo (2009)

Ex Deo is the side-project of Canadian vocalist Maurizio Iacono, otherwise known for his work with the band Kataklysm. Romulus, the band's first CD, is all about battles, gods, warriors, swords, gladiators, and the glory of Rome. The CD offers the sounds of galloping horses, marching armies, and spoken words as warriors beseech the gods for help. In short, it's Manowar updated (but only a bit) for the year 2009.

Ex Deo do effectively transport us to a medieval war environment with solid mid-tempo melodies, shadings of folk metal, and thoughtful structures, but the CD also generally keeps us on the plateau hearing the battle from a relatively safe distance. The music provides an effective impression of the distant rumble of battle, but rarely takes us close to where the swords are glinting and limbs flying. While always interesting and professionally delivered, rarely do the songs soar into memorable tunes and melodies that evoke true glory.

This allows Legio XIII to stand out as the most impressive track on the CD, with the band spreading their wings and delivering a powerful, brooding groove-driven battle song with a slightly faster tempo, and featuring a satisfying, if not stunning, guitar solo.

Romulus is one of those recordings that may have sounded better with the help of an independent producer. As it is, there is a lack of spark and a sense of slight dullness about the music that adds to the overall battle-gloomy mood. The bass, in particular, is missing in action as a distinct sound.

But let's celebrate a beefy, crunchy and well-constructed CD that avoids any histrionics, and gets on with the job of churning out warrior-ready metal.


J.F. Dagenais - Guitar
Sephane Barbe - Guitar
Maxime Duhamel - Drums
Francois Mongrain - Bass
Jonathan Leduc - Keyboards
Maurizio Iacono - Vocals

Songlist (rating out of 10):

1. Romulus - 8
2. Storm the Gates of Alesia - 7
3. Cry Havoc - 7
4. In Her Dark Embrace - 8
5. Invictus - 7

6. The Final War (Battle of Actium) - 8
7. Legio XIII - 9
8. Blood Courage and the Gods That Walk the Earth - 7
9. Cruor Nostri Abbas - 7

10. Surrender the Sun - 7
11. The Pantheon (Jupiter's Reign) - 7

Average: 7.45

Produced by Maurizio Iacono and J.F. Dagenais.
Engineered and Mixed by J.F. Dagenais.
Mastered by James Murphy.

Romulus at the Ace Black Store.
The Ace Black Blog CD Review No. 45.

All Ace Black Blog CD Reviews are here.

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