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Ex Deo

Ex Deo is het zijproject van Kataklysm frontman Maurizio Iacono, waarin hij zijn Italiaanse roots eert met epische verhalen over Rome. De twee goed ontvangen albums ’Romulus’ en ’Caligvla’ werden gevolgd door een break, maar na vijf jaar staat Ex Deo terug volop in de schijnwerpers met de derde worp ‘The Immortal Wars’. Wij contacteerden de sympathieke Maurizio om bij te praten over de recente ontwikkelingen in de band.

Door: Vera | Archiveer onder death metal / grindcore

Hello Maurizio! How are you doing? We are enchanted with finally a new Ex Deo record and ‘The Immortal Wars’ is amazing, so let us have our next chat on behalf of this one...
Hi Vera, my pleasure. It has been a very busy moment in our career between Kataklysm and Ex Deo , So now we prepare for the EX DEO moment with the newest album ‘The Immortal Wars’.

The last time we spoke about Ex Deo – in 2012 when ‘Caligvla’ came out – you told me that there were already ideas for a third album and that it might come earlier than people expect. Well, things went differently. First question: did you use those ideas from then for ‘The Immortal Wars’ or did you start from scratch with another concept?
Well, as you know things change and when we were in that campaign for ‘CALIGVLA’, things were different. Since then we have gotten more busy, families have expanded and we needed to focus on a few important things. We released two strong Kataklysm albums back to back and the band started to get very busy with touring. That’s when we decided that we would put EX DEO on hiatus until further notice, at least on the live front. I always knew deep down I would do another album, the question was when? A year and half ago I was in Italy on vacation and explored the monuments and slowly the hunger started growing again for Ex Deo . So we were able to get the time and energy to proceed and I was always fascinated by Hannibal and Scipio as two of the world’s greatest generals confronted each other in battle for the times. It was a great concept for a metal album and a conflict that still reflects modern times ,

In February 2014 it was announced that Ex Deo would take a break. How did you come to that decision? Of course we know you are all busy with Kataklysm as well, but what were the reasons for this silence?
It was taken because of the time constraints, Kataklysm continues to grow and tours the world and so have our families, so for us it is important to find balance. The hiatus for Ex Deo was meant to be for the live concerts. We decided to do a new album, but the band will not perform live for the moment. We might consider cool festivals which don’t demand crazy logistics, but no touring is planned.

And how did you grow into activities for Ex Deo again, as announced in September 2015?
Just the desire, the inspiration was there. I really think for some crazy reason, without Ex Deo there is void in metal. I don’t mean to sound arrogant, but I do believe we bring something new and interesting. There is nothing really like Ex Deo and the Roman concept at the level we do it out there for metal. So it is something refreshing I think and it seems like fans are excited.

Most of your Centurions were in for this continuation, indeed but I think you have a new drummer since ‘Caligvla’, isn’t it? Please tell us something about the line-up changes…
The fans were ready and I think there are more Roman centurions now than before in the growing Legion of EX DEO. Yes Oli (Kataklysm) took over the drums for the new album after ex drummer Max Duhamel exited both Kataklysm / Ex Deo. The result on the new album is great and Oli did a great job to honor it.

How is Max Duhamel doing at the moment? Will he ever start playing drums again?
We haven’t heard a word from him. I heard through some people he no longer is playing drums. Sad thing if it is true.

Obviously Ex Deo has the Roman Empire concept, but can you go deeper into the lyrical contents this time and the theme you focused on?
This is the first album with its concept based on two trilogies. The first three songs are based on the rise and conquering force of Hannibal at the gates of Rome, the second trilogy is based on the Roman response to the Carthage threat. We give honor to history and the great thing about Roman history is that it happened, so all the crazy things you see or hear are not fabricated, they are real. It makes it more epic.

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I think it sounds more victorious than ever and being proud of being Roman is very strong present on this album, isn’t it? And I think it has much more narrative moments… Can you tell a bit more about these characteristics?
Ex Deo is a project that came to life to honor the glory of Rome, but also to tell its story, whether they are victorious or not? The idea of Rome is still very present in today’s world. We thank much to the world’s advancement to the Romans, but also some negatives have come from it: greed, power and corruption and we explain it in our music, but these traits come from any human kingdom.

Orchestration started to play a bigger role on the former album, but this time you worked closely with Ardek from Carach Angren. Please tell us about this cooperation…
I work with a lot of bands in my management that I really like. Carach Angren is one of them. Ardek is a good friend and we connected right away about the idea. I think he’s very talented and he had no problem in creating what I had in my mind to life, the music and orchestral score went hand in hand, very proud of this album and his work .

Are there other guests on the album, just like on ‘Caligvla’ or not?
No one on this, it was time to stand on our own feet haha…

As always J-F Dagenais did the production, but this time you went to Sweden for mix and mastering with famous Jens Bogren. Please tell us a bit more about the recording and fine-tuning of this epic, multilayered album? I think that was a challenge, but at the same time a matter of more experience in this style, isn’t it?
We met Jens in Sweden during the Kataklysm campaign for ‘Of Ghosts And Gods’ and it was our idea to use him after hearing his previous work. I think he was up for the challenge and we loved working with him. The sound is war like and thunderous like Jupiter.

How would you as creator, describe the new album in comparison with the former ones?
It is a more mature album. It is a step up and flows much better. You could almost take it and see it as one big epic track that is forty minutes long.

Did you get any new meaningful tattoos recently?
Yes, the name of my ten months old daughter Arianna around my wrist…

In December you shot a video clip for the song ‘The Roman’. Can you reveal some details about the making of, since Ex Deo never does a half job? J
All I can say is that we pushed the envelope to the max of our capacities without entering a Hollywood studio. Controversial, brutal and very ROMAN!

Who did the artwork this time and can you tell something about its symbolism?
Eliran Kantor; who worked with Testament, Soulfly and Fleshgod Apocalypse did the masterful art. We wanted to portray an ancient feel of an after war idea. It is a dramatic art and done extremely well.

Do you have ideas for a theatrical show to support this new album, since I read a while ago that there would be no live shows for ‘The Immortal Wars’? Are you still thinking so?
No live shows for the moment, for that to happen the fans must rise more to demand it. We are very busy and time is a constraint, so we have to see if the right chance appears.

What are the plans for the near future with Ex Deo?
Release the album Feb 24th, release the video clip and then wait and see what happens. Nothing major in the works, album was made for the fans, we don’t expect major things from it.

And what is the agenda and your wishes for Kataklysm in 2017? I heard a rumour about a break?
We will finish the campaign for ‘OF GHOSTS AND GODS’ with a Latin American tour In April, then we will celebrate our 25th anniversary by playing the ‘Shadows And Dust’ / ‘Serenity In Fire’ albums in their entirety for a series of shows across Europe and some selected shows in Canada. It also marks the 15th anniversary of ‘Shadows And Dust’, so playing two very important albums in the band’s career live, then we will take a break…

If there is anything you like to add, please feel free as always to do so… J
A BIG thank you to all of you! You are the driving force behind Kataklysm and Ex Deo! See you soon!

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