History is full of complete nutters who were unfit to rule by today’s standards. The Roman Empire has quite long of list of emperors who were mentally unstable. Arguably, one of the biggest nutters was the emperor Caligula, who was known for his extravagant tastes, perversive acts and at one instance ordering his soldiers to collect shells on a beach in France to acts as trophies in his ongoing war with Neptune. This complete basket case is the main source of inspiration for the latest album of Ex Deo, entitled “Caligvla”.
The driving force behind Ex Deo is Kataklysm vocalist Mauricio Iacono, supported by current and former members of his other band. The bombastic intro would suggest an epic train wreck in the finest Manowar and Turisas tradition, but “Caligvla” isn’t that cheesy or downright awful. In fact, it’s actually a fine album. Ex Deo’s Amon Amarth-meets-Wagner approach works very well, albeit things tend a get a little cheesy at times, especially when all the massive choirs, movie bits and Wagnerian-styled bombast comes into view.
What keeps “Caligvla” in place are solid compositions, like “The Tiberius Cliff (Exile To Capri”), “Divide Et Impera” and “Along The Appian Way”. All songs that refer to some of the grizzliest aspects of the Roman Era. All the aforementioned tracks benefit from solid hooks, lush arrangements and massive choirs. Before you know it, you’ll get sucked in by this very entertaining Roman play of sorts.
Combining huge anthem-style songs with massive choirs and other types of symphonic bombast is a tried and tested method within metal and it’s often met with calamity. However, Mauricio Iacono and Co pull it off with style and grace. Yes, may it get a bit cheesy at times, but even at its weakest moments “Caligvla” still beat ten tons of crap out of any Manowar or Turisas album.