Ex Deo Caligvla

Ex Deo Caligvla
When Kataklysm frontman Maurizio Iacono spearheaded the Roman-themed Ex Deo and released 2009's Romulus, it turned out to be a pretty cool side-project of powerful death metal that incorporated the history of ancient Rome. But with their sophomore album, Caligvla, Ex Deo have become much more than just a side-project, as the band have taken what they created with Romulus to the next level, with a bigger, much more bombastic sound. Continuing with the Roman concept, the aptly titled Caligvla focuses on the reign of the mad Emperor Caligula (aka Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus), and features even more orchestral flourishes than their debut. The intense rhythms start right off the bat with "I, Caligvla" and Iacono's voice roars over the symphonic elements, commanding his troops. "The Tiberius Cliff (Exile to Capri)" and "Per Oculos Aquila" invoke the feeling of being led into battle, with crushing guitar leads and thunderous drumming, while "Divide et Impera" adds a softer touch, with a guest appearance by Italian singer Mariangela Demurtas (Tristania). At once beautiful and brutal, this is as epic as death metal gets, and while attempting a concept record of this magnitude could be considered a tad hokey, with Caligvla, Ex Deo pull it off with their artistic integrity intact. (Napalm)