Released: 2017, Napalm Records
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
No matter how many times I’ve listened to Ex Deo’s (aka Kataklysm in short pants) latest release THE IMMORTAL WARS, that’s been my immediate response. No matter how clever I’ve tried to get in writing this review, no matter how clever Maurizio Iacono and crew tried to get in writing this album, I can’t get past it. THE IMMORTAL WARS isn’t nearly as good as ROMULUS and it’s not nearly as disposable as CALIGVLA. It’s fine.
On paper, THE IMMORTAL WARS reads like a slam dunk; it’s got all of the appropriate boxes checked. The historical subject matter this time around is actually a pretty engaging topic (The Punic Wars, look it up), and structurally all of the tunes are built to convey a very theatrical atmosphere, full of militaristic, world dominating riffs and large scale orchestration. But still, after multiple listens, the best that I can muster is “it’s fine.”
To be fair, some of the tunes resonate better than others. “The Rise of Hannibal” opens like a rising theater curtain, slowly building the scene and setting the stage for the events to follow, resolute with steady riffs and violin accompaniments. The anchor riff in “Cato Major” almost has a Slipknot vibe to it, which normally would be viewed as heresy, but just the fact that it attempts something different is a welcomed effort. And “The Roman” attempts to close out THE IMMORTAL WARS with some dramatic arrangements that sound more like a Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western than a Kirk Douglas gladiator flick. Everything else in between all tends to sound pretty same-y. Insert chugging riffs into symphonic horns and/or sweeping strings, finish with Iacono yelling something about revenge or his father. Spoiler alert, it doesn’t end well for Hannibal.
I really wanted to feel something, ANYTHING after spending as much time as I have with THE IMMORTAL WARS. For an album to leave me feeling almost nothing and remembering hardly any of it is even worse than it being a steaming pile of crap. At least with a steaming pile of crap, you have some kind of emotional reaction towards it. So there you go. THE IMMORTAL WARS isn’t great, and it’s not terrible. It’s fine.
P.S. – Maurizio, your promo photos are embarrassing to us all. Next time, hire a professional and not your neighbor’s kid to do your Photoshop work.