Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ex Deo - Caligvla

Ex Deo are a symphonic death metal band who are, personnel-wise, Kataklysm with a different bassist. Their lyrics and general aesthetic are based on Roman history, imagery, and mythology. This summer they released their second full-length album, Caligvla.

The band employ the relatively uncommon fusion of semi-melodic death metal and symphonic orchestration. This latter is generally in the form of strings, but some horns and choral singing work their way into the mix as well. Rather than switching back and forth in the course of each song, the metal and symphonic elements maintain a relatively even mix throughout most of the record. There is some ebb and flow, particularly given their tendency toward instrumental intro passages, but for the most part the two sides work in tandem rather than in alternation.

With this constant blending, the music gains a definite dramatic, epic quality. The guitar riffs often work as a split pair, with one doing more chugging, heavy work along with the bass to hold down the meaty bottom end, while the other plays higher and cleaner lead pieces over top of that mix. The drumming is good at maintaining effective pacing, but rarely ever slams away with brutal intensity. In does move at a sharp clip when it has to, and the rest of the time it has a strangely arena-rock-like quality. All this combined with clean production, perfectly intelligible vocals that walk the line between roaring and yelling, and the dramatic historical themes creates the peculiar end effect of a death metal album that almost plays more like power metal.

This vein of metal is very fertile ground that is explored by too few bands. It offers enough dynamic possibilities that the songs easily avoid the common death metal trap of becoming too redundant (an issue these gentlemen's main band has run up against all too often) and it doesn't particularly sound like any other band enough to feel derivative. Though there was one song I personally find annoying, "Divide Et Impera", and the instrumental final track doesn't really seem necessary, the overall album was very enjoyable and refreshingly different.

Grade: A-
Very enjoyable and unusual symphonic death metal that, despite being a side project, is presently more interesting than the members' main band.

No comments:

Post a Comment