Ex Deo is a side project of several members of the Canadian death metal band Kataklysm. The band is the brainchild of singer Maurizio Iacono who wanted to do a concept album about Ancient Rome.
Now Kataklysm has never exactly been known for their high concepts which is what makes this such an intriguing possibility. What they are known for which might allow them to pull this off is theatricality and lots and lots of movie samples. There are movies about Ancient Rome, right? Yes? Good, they should be fine.
Okay, now I am listening to Ex Deo for the first time.
The music is not presented at the same hyper-fast blasting speed as Kataklysm, but this is another entity. It's slower, with much more instrumentation outside of the typical guitar/bass/drums metal usually relies on. Keyboard passages play Roman-esque melodies during breaks between the death metal riff-and-roar.
Iacono does not do anything outside his safety zone. In other words, the vocals are mostly gruff, with the occasional blackened screaching. There are the occasional spoken word parts, but even these are normally spoken in a gruff, death metal growl.
Yep, there are definitely movie samples here.
There are also guest appearance from Karl Sanders (Nile), Nergal (Behemoth), and Arnt Obsidian Gronbech (Keep of Kalessin).
I'm not sure how factually accurate the album is, as Ancient Rome did not interest me much in school. I much preferred Ancient Greece and Egypt. Oh well, this was a pretty interesting idea and Ex Deo pulled it off reasonably well. This is apretty good album and proof that death metal can have lyrics about things other than death and the occult.