Archive for Roman Empire

Ex Deo – Caligvla

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 30th August 2012 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Ex Deo
Released 3rd September 2012
Symphonic Death Metal/Epic Roman Metal
Released via Napalm Records

The epic Roman metal legion, Ex Deo, fronted by Katakylsm frontman Maurizio Iacono, are back with their second album, Caligvla, named after the Roman emperor of the same name, and ready to begin their conquest in the known metal world. The album is due for release on the 2000th anniversary of Caligula (31st August) in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and three other European countries.

The album is started by the opening track, I, Caligvla, which begins with a strong Roman styled orchestration and a speech proclaiming Gaius Augustus Germanicus emperor of Rome. Straight after, the snarling guitars kick into battle mode, being led by the powerful, domineering vocal work. The orchestration adds that awe-inspiring feel to the music, making almost like a soundtrack for a movie. The use of the samples taken from the film Caligula, really set the mood for the song.

The Tiberius Cliff charges in brutally with a combined assault of majestic orchestration, aggressive riffs and harsh vocals. The song captures perfectly the viciousness of Tiberius. The third song, Per Oculus Aquila, is introduced by a dark, atmospheric sound before turning into a snarling war machine of fierce riffs and vocals, topped with drums that come smashing down like rams into walls.

Divide Et Impera has a very Epica-like sound resonating from the music whilst the vocals summon up the death metal elements that run rampant through the album. The female vocals, performed by Mariangela Demurtas of Tristania, contrast beautifully with the music. Pollice Verso (Damnatio Ad Bestia) isn’t much of a track to write home about when it first begins but it soon evolves into bloody and violent piece of pure metal, featuring some delightful melodic riffs and acute drumming. The orchestration conjures a dramatic atmosphere, making everything sound more tense.

Burned To Serve As Nocturnal Light might sound like the title of a deep, Gothic poem but the tense orchestration and mighty march of guitars and drums prove it to be the complete opposite, creating an epic worthy of the Roman pantheon themselves. Teutoborg (Ambush of Varus), based on the infamous massacre of Varus’ legions in 9AD, offers up a deliciously dark serving of grim orchestration and roaring guitars. The sounds of men fighting and the screaming of Augusts’ legendary quote: Varus! Give me back my legions! add a certain authenticity to the track, portraying the infamous battle in a unique manner.

Along The Appian Way introduces a fresh, new war-like sound to the album, unleashing a fury of guitars, drums and orchestration, commanded by the guttural growling that has featured so prominently through the album. The guitars play out some truly sagaic parts that really add emphasis on the vocals. Once Were Romans opens with what sounds to be a Roman officer telling his recruits the punishment if they break the law, ending with “Deserters will be crucified”. The harsh vocals blast in, screaming to form battle formations, as the guitars and orchestration build up dramatically for the ensuing onslaught of violent riffs and barbaric drums. Evocatio: Temple of Castor and Pollux finishes the album with an emotive, almost divine piece of orchestration. A fitting end for an epic album.

Once again, Ex Deo have took parts of Roman history and tradition and fashioned them into truly epic pieces that will no doubt stand the test of time. Clearly the spirit of ancient Rome still lives on through Ex Deo.


Nico Davidson

Dakesis – Trial By Fire [2011]

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , on 19th November 2011 by Nico Solheim-Davidson, the North Sea Poet

Band: Dakesis
Album: Trial By Fire
Release year: 2011
Genre: Progressive Power Metal

Dakesis – Birmingham based progressive power metal quintet – are considered by some as one of the UK’s fastest growing independent artists. Mixing progressive and power metal, the band have established a strong and loyal fan base over the last two years. Looking at the album cover, one would easily get the impression that the album is a mixture of Tolkien’s work and Greek mythology.

The epic and majestic sound of “Shield Of Achilles I” starts the album. The orchestration brings about a dramatic and tense sound, much like the theme to Jaws. The title track “Trial By Fire” comes blazing next with a mixture of highly energetic guitars and strong vocals topped with intelligently played drums. The vocals have a strong and heroic sound to them, almost Odysseus-like in their strength. The guitars show hints of some European metal influences – Without the overly cheesy sound that has come to be associated with stereotypical power metal. The keyboards offer up a brilliant sagaic flavour throughout the track as well. The only other parts of the track that truly deserves praise would have to be the guitar and keyboard solos – Both of which are well composed and well cleverly placed like the Spartans at Thermopylae.

”Liar” takes a less power metal approach in its intro though the high pitched wail that soon follows changes that. The guitars and drums are well structured and the keyboards are strategically placed to reinforce the rest of the music. The combination of male and female vocals – the latter of which are brought into the song by the band’s keyboardist Gemma – are pretty easy on the ears, feeling a tad like the combination of vocals in Andrew Lloyd Webber’s classic “Phantom Of The Opera”. The track however is obviously dominated by male vocals, slightly disappointing, but hey, what can we do about it? For those of you who like keyboard introductions, you’ll love the harmonious yet solemn keyboard heavy beginning to “After The Storm”. The vocal work is primarily female – And before anyone says anything, no, the song does not sound like a Nightwish track! Wayne’s vocals make a slight appearance in the song without taking away from the sound already established. The speed metalesque styling of “On Wings Of Steel” takes the album by storm with its keyboard dominated introduction. Wayne’s vocals lead the charge into the musical fray of masterfully composed guitar sections and keyboard riffs, followed by Gemma’s vocals that don’t feature as heavily throughout the song – Either way though, the combination of their vocals makes the track more exciting.

”Broken” starts with a depressed and slow-paced section being composed of Gemma’s vocals and piano before the melodic guitar work joins in, keeping to the slower march of the song. Wayne’s vocals can be heard as well, adding extra strength to the song. “Into The Light” starts with the sound of bass that grows stronger as it progresses before the rest of the instrumentation dominate the track much like the way the Roman Empire dominated Europe. The vocal work, provided by Wayne, is diverse on this one, offering up a mixture of high and low notes. The solos keep everything in the song – and the album – sounding fresh so need to worry about the sound going stale after a few listens. The slow but epic musings of “Valhalla” add a sound of Eddic proportions to the album. The vocal work is grand, blending with the music well. The lack of emphasis on the keyboards does make the song feel a bit bland, though it does give it a very old school power metal sound – Iced Earth meets Helloween kind of power metal. “To The End” brings back a faster tempo to the album as well as emphasis on the keyboards in sections. Wayne’s vocals are coupled up with what sounds to be growls in the background, making the song more aggressive and violent sounding – much like the violent sound heard coming from a raiding party of berserkers mixed with metal. The guitar solo is placed in an unusual section of the song and ambushes the listener before the keyboard solo carries on the onslaught of masterfully played musical craftsmanship. Gemma’s vocal work has the proverbial last word of the song, ending on a solemn note with the piano.

”Shield of Achilles” casts forth an ethereal sound that could only come from the depths of Hades – or some other eerie and misunderstood mythological afterlife. The track progresses into a sound as mighty and as powerful as the legendary Achilles himself, truly a song worthy of the legend. Thankfully Homer [Author of the Iliad] never composed music, otherwise he’d have probably written this centuries before hand! The album’s end comes in the form of “440 (King Of The Road)”. The song takes a less fancy musical approach, favouring a raw sound with the guitars over any fancy technical work. Wayne’s vocal work is once again quite diverse while the guitars offer up a virgin sacrifice of musical goodness to the ears of the listener. They keyboards keep flow nicely in their designated sections, keeping that European power metal in place.

If Homer, Beethoven and Iron Maiden had a love child together, Dakesis would be the clearly epic sounding result. Never has there been such a perfect sounding debut full length album like “Trial By Fire”. The vocals are more diverse than the usual vocal styles found in power metal and the instrumentation show a range of influences from classic metal to prog. metal and European power metal. It’s easy to see why Dakesis are considering one of the fastest growing independent acts.


Nico Davidson