Four years after regaling us with stories of Carthaginian General Hannibal on The Immortal Wars (Napalm Records) Canadian/Italian death metal act Ex Deo return with more tales of ancient Rome on fourth full length release The Thirteen Years of Nero (also Napalm). As its title suggests, the central theme this time is the reign of Imperator Nero Cladius Divi Claudius filius Caesar Augustus Germanicus (or plain old Emperor Nero to his friends) and the matricide, uxoricide, blood, fire and death which followed him.
It was a sad say indeed when, on February 17th 2014, Canada’s Ex Deo announced they were going on an indefinite hiatus and a third album was “unlikely”. Thankfully, it transpires that the Canadian definition of “indefinite” means just over a yearContinue reading
Not that it really needs to be stated, but they’re not reinventing the wheel here.
And with a career dating back to 1991, no one really is expecting Montreal, Canada’s Kataklysm to go pop-punk or try space-rock on their 12th studio release, Of Ghosts and Gods (Nuclear Blast). Instead, what you have here is Maurizio Iacono leading his death metal bruisers through 10 crushing, if conventional tracks.
Hey, it’s not like Fear Factory or Obituary flip the script on its listeners on a consistent basis either. What we have here are numbers that either fall under melodic death or more standard groove metal. Ultimately you do get your blast beats and searing guitar work. Seems to me that’s what lots of death metal fans are looking for anyways.
On the melodic front it seems like At the Gates’ At War with Reality was an influence in the writer’s room. In terms of song structure and pace, album opener ‘Breaching the Asylum’ and ‘Thy Serpents Tongue’ have strong connections to that Swedish landmark.
I can really get behind the groove of ‘Shattered’ and ‘The Black Sheep.’ Truth be told, those are probably the strongest moments on the album. ‘Hate Spirit’ (even if it’s opening may recall The Black Dahlia Murder), finds its strength in groove again and Stephane Barbe’s rubbery bass lines.
Unfortunately, ‘The World is a Dying Insect’ fumbles both the groove and melodic thing with its uninspired riffs and 6 minute running time. Final song hiccup aside, Of Ghosts and Gods is not a bad listen. Kataklysm fans will find no reason to turn their backs on this Canadian institution. No one is demanding a new sound as much as a more polished version of it. And as I stated earlier, Obituary and Fear Factory are also playing the same songs over and over, but they sure do know how to play those songs.