Live at The Key Club
in Los Angeles, CA
November 16th, 2010
Ex Deo are a new project from the master mind behind long time extreme metalers, Kataklysm. In all honesty, I never got into Kataklysm that much but when I heard that this new project would be entirely based around the Roman Empire, I thought that would be a cool basis for songs and imagery.
Checking out their video for their hit song "Romulus", proved that to be true. Extreme metal of an epic nature combined with the mythos of the founder of Rome and executed with a fairly sizable budget allowing for high caliber visuals definitely found a fan in me.
Ex Deo are touring North America currently as the direct supporting act for the insane, Nile. The tour is a fitting one as Nile focus on Ancient Egypt in their songs and Egypt and Rome were tied in many ways through out history. It is a cool concept to have historical based bands play together and worked out well with the awesome Keep of Kalessin bringing their Dragon Cult mythos as additional firepower on the tour.
Ex Deo came out to epic keys and choirs swelling. They had a Roman battle standard placed at the two corners of the stage and their red banner in the back. When the band emerged, they were dressed in black leather armor pieces covering their chests and down one arm for the guitarists, both for Maurizio, the lead singer.
They started off the set with "Cruor Nostri Abbas", a blazing fast assault of guitars and drums. The two guitarists and bassist had their hair whipping in circles of fury and the audience took that as their cue to spin into a crazy mosh pit.
The lead singer stands stoically posed in the center of the stage, often making hand gestures and arm motions that fall in line with a commanding officer in the legion, leading his troops to battle.
He took a moment between songs to address the crowd and explain the traits of a legionnaire; loyalty, honor, and bravery. He also demonstrated the Roman hand salute and had the audience participating with hands held high returning the salute.
The vocals at times remind me of the higher pitched speed singing that bands like Cradle of Filth utilize but of course with a unique variance with their own singer's individual voice. At other times they brought to mind the heavier vocal style of bands like Amon Amarth so I was happy as I love both those bands and thought the vocals were really good live.
The next song was "Legio XIII" or Legion 13 which tells the tale of an epic battle legion and their abilities and fate. It is a cool song and mention of this fated legion appears through out other songs as well as on their armor and shirts so definitely plays a strong part in their overall mythos.
I really had fun the entire show. Everything from their armor and stage appearance to the powerful guitar riffs and percussive strength of their music had a smile pinned on my face the entire time they played and I really enjoyed their performance.
They did at least three more songs before the big one that everyone was waiting for, "Romulus". The crowd went crazy for this once the signature opening played. I personally liked this song the best of their set but found each song powerful and entertaining. I think one of the others before this was "The Final War". I am pretty new to their material so I was not sure about every song but I did like the material I was not familiar with too. From my position in the front, smashed between the stage and the mosh pit, it seemed like they had a good response and reception to their music.
Later I was talking to a number of the other audience members and found that many of them had varying opinions on the set. Some of the crowd loved them and came just for them. Others thought they were cheesy with their armor and all the talk about Roman legions and salutes and honor. A number of people came for Psycroptic and didn't like any of the other bands and then the bulk of the audience were Nile die-hards and they were torn down the middle on Ex Deo... half of them thought they were really cool and the other half didn't know what to make of them.
I personally thought they kicked ass and loved their show. They only had time to play six songs in total but they were all good songs for a live audience and they won me over to fandom. I will go back and give their main project, Kataklysm, another go as well because I like this lead singer, both how he sounds and how he acts and interacts with the audience. I think their guitarists are both really talented and the bassist is fun to watch with a huge head of curly hair flying around.
They all did a final salute with their guitars held vertical towards the end of their set and overall had a really good stage presence. I am not sure how many of these other guys are in Kataklysm but Ex Deo are top notch for sure. I highly recommend seeing these guys and checking out their music and videos too. Bring cash because they have excellent merchandise to buy.
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