Ex Deo

Vega, Copenhagen - 2018

Text: Tobias Nilsson Photo: Lunah Lauridsen

In case you didn’t know (but you probably did, since you’re here), Ex Deo is a side-project of vocalist Maurizio Iacono of Kataklysm fame. Presently at his side are all of his Kataklysm bandmates - Jean-François Dagenais and Stéphane Barbe on guitars, and Olivier Beaudoin on drums. Finally, Ex Deo is completed by Dano Apekian on bass. Since there were no more people to take from Kataklysm, Apekain comes from Ashes Of Eden, another band from the Montreal, Quebec area.
Now that you know whom we’re dealing with, let’s get into the meat of it…

“Copenhagen, sing with me!”
- Maurizio Iacono (vocals)


What mainly sets Ex Deo apart from Kataklysm, is the lyrical universe and theme of the band. Ex Deo is all about ancient Rome, the battles, society, and so on. For this reason, the band was more or less dressed as Roman legionnaires - the three string benders wore varying types of manica, and Iacono wore a complete armour made up by a hardened leather torso, pteruges and graeves. But a tunic made from crushed velvet? That doesn’t seem quite right.
But this isn’t a reenactment class, this is death metal. And Ex Deo was loud, pummeling and relentless in their attack. I wasn’t quite sure why they went with using backtracks for some of the shouted announcements, like the one in I, Caligvla, instead of just letting Iacono shout it by himself - I mean, his vocals proved they were up for the task when he was actually singing.
Playing on the small stage of Vega, didn’t leave the band much room to tear it up physically (although, this being my first real time watching the band I have no basis for comparison), and the musicians didn’t do much except headbang, leaving it to Iacono to inspire life into the crowd.

“Are you still here? With me - hey, hey, hey!”
- Iacono (vocals)


This he did pretty well though, and despite the crowd not being very large at this point (about half-filled I think), they gave a good response to his requests. People shouted, some headbanged, and when the band reached Cato Major: Carthago Delenda Est! a small but dedicated moshpit even opened up.
Trying for some of the madness that has made Kataklysm’s shows famous, Iacono called out for a wall of death when the band reached The Final War (Battle Of Actium) - not just any old wall of death though, but a roman one! Never did find out the difference between this and a regular one, but it was fun seeing a couple of guys who just couldn’t contain themselves, and made the wild rush long before they were supposed to. To their credit, they didn’t backpedal when discovering their mistake, but just kept going at each other.
In the calm section of Romulus, all arms came up, as the crowd was sensing the show nearing its end.

I must admit, even though the band was doing a good job, they didn’t manage to win me over. In this presentation, the music didn’t feel varied enough to keep me interested, and while wearing costumes can enhance the feeling of a good show, it doesn’t make a show by itself. And when having the time limit of a support band, why waste it with a drum solo, even if it doubles as an intro to another song (we’re talking about Suavetaurilia (Intermezzo), in case you didn’t know). No, it wasn’t bad, but neither is it something that will be remembered.

Setlist:

The Rise Of Hannibal
I, Caligvla
Pollice Verso (Damnatio Ad Bestia)
Suavetaurilia (Intermezzo)
Cato Major: Carthago Delenda Est!
Ad Victoriam (The Battle of Zama)
The Final War (Battle Of Actium)
The Roman
Romulus

Ex Deo

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