With the strength of 37 mighty African elephants, Hannibal marched 40,000 of his bravest men, 1,500 miles through the Alps, to challenge Rome’s supremacy on their own soil. Such is the premise of Ex Deo‘s latest historical undertaking, aspiring to tell the story of Hannibal, the 26-year old mastermind behind one of the most recklessly daring military maneuvers in history. Born to exact vengeance, raised to achieve the impossible, Hannibal will forever be known as the greatest enemy of Rome. A full year after announcing the demise of his project band, Canadian based Maurizio Iacono (Kataklysm) returns to bestow Ex Deo‘s third melodic death and orchestral undertaking. Can they successfully convey the magnitude and magnificence of Hannibal’s historical campaign?

Right out of the gates, “The Rise of Hannibal” presents a mid-paced anthem that succeeds in setting young Hannibal’s account in motion. After a brief and menacing intro incorporating a middle-eastern intonation, the instrumentation escalates with a bombasity that’s not dissimilar to Septicflesh and Kataklysm, while incorporating melodic death melodies comparable to those of Omnium Gatherum. That, along with the use of epic cinematic elements, forges a song quite uniquely Ex Deo. Maurizio’s vocal delivery is firmly in command; a gruff rasp that’s still clear enough to pick up on each integral line. It’s Olivier Beaudoin (drummer for both Ex Deo and Kataklysm) though who ultimately stands out instrumentally, bringing with him dynamic technical death experience from his time with the now defunct Neuraxis. “The Rise of Hannibal” is undoubtedly the high point of Immortal Wars and a triumphant beginning.

“Hispania (Siege of Saguntum)” and “Crossing the Alps” increase the energy levels of The Immortal Wars. “Hispania” backs off very slightly just prior to the 2-minute mark and then again just beyond the 4-minute mark to introduce a melody that bears resemblance to the melodies Borknagar applied on Universal. Though largely an unrestrained track, symphonics are tactfully incorporated and well layered, their grandeur standing out most prominently at the back-end of “Hispania” where they’re used in conjunction with cracking whips to signal the arrival of the war elephants. Though making a slow start, once again inspired by the melodic death sound of Omnium Gatherum, “Crossing the Alps” quickly develops its level of destruction. This is largely due to Maurizio’s vocal interplay, contrasting rough death rasps with piercing screams and narrations, developing cataclysmic intensity. It’s around this point of The Immortal Wars that it hit me, this is probably one of the most convincing concept albums I’ve experienced in a long while.

Moving on from the belly dance-like fluidity of “Suavetaurilia,” “Cato Major: Carthago delenda est!” develops the cinematic side of Ex Deo, at times bringing to mind Shade Empire‘s much loved Omega Arcane release. The song goes through any number of shifts and changes, all with a distinctly combative edge that’s ideal to get that mosh pit churning during a live performance. The Synyster Gates inspired guitar solo at 3:44 is a thing of beauty, and a nice contradiction to the militant atmosphere of the rest of the track. “Ad Victoriam (The Battle of Zama)” and “The Spoils of War” continue on in the same manner as previous tracks, making use of a variety of vocal styles, impactful lyrics and irregular percussion, backed by attractive melodies. With a total run-time just beyond 38 minutes, The Immortal Wars comes to a close with “The Roman.” Opening with an unhurried pace, the track expands and escalates, somewhat out of character with what’s come before. Building on dramatic effect, moments of A Forest of Stars-like violin melody weave themselves into Ex Deo‘s sound, creating something austere that’s not only memorable but also quite striking.

It’s difficult to point out faults on an album that I’ve been waiting for with equal measures of anticipation and trepidation. While I’m beginning to enjoy Kataklysm‘s sound, Ex Deo is the band I want new material from. I’m pleased that Ex Deo went on to create The Immortal Wars. That said, though it’s better than Romulus, The Immortal Wars is not without fault, never developing the staying power or memorable nature of Caligvla. Similar sounding melodies, pacing, persistent hammering intensity and being that The Immortal Wars is bookended by the strongest, most memorable tracks, has a tendency to make the mid-section pass by in a blur if you’re not paying attention. Looking past this, The Immortal Wars is a triumphal release from a band that I hope has many more campaigns left under their chest plates!


Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Napalm Records
Websites: facebook.com/exdeo
Releases Worldwide: February 24th, 2017

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  • Carthage must be destroyed!

    • Queue up the Hannibal film!

    • [not a Dr]

      … the one in Africa, or the one in the Caribbeans?

  • Ziklon

    What a bunch of nerds.. wait a minute i am one.

    • Two thumbs up!

    • The Nerd.

      I think I can say the same.

  • Iain Gleasure

    I found these guys by accident a few months ago. I got quite hopeful for this album and it sounds like the goods have been delivered. Let’s have a good time!

  • Ferrous Beuller

    Man, I’ve been waiting for this beast for ages – can’t wait. As always, great review!

  • a glass o’ milk

    I think that the promo shots for this thing are amongst the worst I have ever seen.

    • They’re …. dramatic!

      • a glass o’ milk

        yes =) the edge is adorable

    • Not a lava fan, eh?

      • sir_c

        it’s like he is standing in front of a large pizza oven, displaying is giant invisible pizza

        • a glass o’ milk

          now that you say it he’s holding an imaginary pizza, isn’t he?

          • [not a Dr]

            More like a stack of pizza boxes. This guy delivers.

        • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

          I was going to say it was invisible oranges, but his fingers need to be more clenched.

    • Iain Gleasure

      At least it’s a picture of him, not a shadow or a dude in a robe.

      • a glass o’ milk

        I guess you’re right. Shall we call it Photoshop Carnival then?

    • Juan Manuel Pinto Guerra

      You obviously haven’t seen the promo pictures for Cnoc An Tursa right here on AMG or the promo pictures for Vultures Vengeance anywhere on the web.

  • Zach Ward

    If my history is correct, Hannibal got rekt did he not?? I recall him losing badly

    • VikingSchism

      Only towards the end, he did pretty well for a long time – even destroying a much larger Roman force at Cannae, which ended up being one of Rome’s most devastating defeats in battle

      • Zach Ward

        Ahh, all I actually knew was that he lost, I just thought he lost badly. Seems I was wrong.

    • When he invaded over the Alps he won a serious of large battles and managed to keep a standing army in the Italy contesting the Romans on their home turf for 16 years.

      • Zach Ward

        Well then, guess my knowledge of history was wrong.

      • [not a Dr]

        Terror Lake has a yearly parade to celebrate this.

    • Iain Gleasure

      Well he does get rekt in the last battle at Zama in North Africa. But he only won in Italy. So he’s a bit like say Rommel or Guderian in that he was brilliant but defeated.

  • Levly

    Very glad this turned out so fine, I was so so on the tracks released so far but I’m looking forward to dig deeper into it now!

  • Eli Valcik

    Ooooo this is fun, my Roman historical nerdy side is showing.

  • Thatguy

    The ‘band photo’ says cheesy, the album art is quite sophisticated. I may have got the electric shock on this one as it sounds good – better than I expected.

    • gus rodrigues

      wow! I was fully expecting to not like this album, based on the band picture alone (highest levels of cheese achieved), but was quite surprised!

    • I have never seen a greater disparity of quality between cover art and band photo…

  • Sounds great . Historic and epic also solid.

  • Reese Burns

    This is checking all my boxes.. this is a definite must-buy.

    • sir_c

      pizza boxes I presume

  • IBlackened

    THIS. IS. ROME! Hmm, not so catchy.

    • sir_c

      just repeat it 300 times

  • Nola Trash Talk

    My metal band in college 10+ years ago had a song about Carthage that I wrote while taking a History of Rome course. I thought that whole Cato line as squeezed a fistful of dates at the senate “Carthage must be destroyed!” would make a great metal chorus. Glad someone else finally did it. Love Ex Deo.

  • antitayyip

    meh..

  • DrewMusic

    Sometimes you’re better off just taking the unicorn.

  • Glad to see Oli get a shout, his work on the last two Kataklysm offerings was stellar (the last one I thought was the best since Serenity in Fire) and the guy is a blast to watch perform. This review got me interested in this band for the first time ever because you mentioned he plays on this!

  • Innit Bartender

    In Rome you get guys dressed like this trying to sneak pictures with tourists…

  • hallowed

    I have a vewy gweat fwiend in Wome called ‘Biggus Dickus’.

  • Joshua Walker

    This cover art looks very similar in style to the number one album on everyone’s top ten list last year.

  • Roberto

    This review read like an infomercial for other bands…