I’m not joking when I say that as of right now, an album from 2013 is my current front-runner for 2016’s album of the year. This album is that good. I have no idea how an album this awesome flew under my radar for so long. Plus, it’s even up as a completely free download on their Bandcamp page. You should totally give them money for it anyway. Seriously. It’s so good.
In a simplistic “they sound like band X meets band Y” terms, I could go with Speticlfesh meets a crack-addicted Neurosis with a tech-death foster parent. But that really doesn’t cover all their nuances and a simple label like that does Ade a disservice. Let me expand a bit.
With all the old styled instrumentation flying around, these guys are definitely not your run-of-the-mill death metal band. The best part is that, unlike a lot of wannabe epic or symphonic bands, these parts are worked masterfully into the songs and never feel tacked on in any way. They are truly part of the arrangements and not an afterthought. Quieter passages and non-guitar leading melody lines are intertwined just as well, if not better than, most bands that leave it to standard metal instrumentation. Ade knows when they have a good thing going, when to stick with it, or when to move on from a particular passage. The pacing and arrangement of every song on this album is impeccable.
As for the Neurosis bit, there are some really massive riffs and sections, like the main riff for Mars’ Unpredictable Favour or the ending of 6 Thousands Crosses, where you can really hear this type of influence. If you were to slow these bits down, they would not be out of place at all on an Ufomammut album. It’s a similar situation with the tech-death bits. There are some great breakdowns and grooves every once in a while, and just the right amount of tech-y goodness thrown in to make your ears perk up and realize all of the members are also top notch players.
The production and engineering is just as high-level as the musicianship. Everything is clear and audible at all times with nary a misplaced frequency. Even when the drums are blasting, the vocalist screaming, the guitars overloading, and the bass smashing, you are still able to hear the lilting sounds of ancient Roman instruments carrying a complimentary melody over the top. My only (very) minor complaint is that the bass guitar is a little quiet. It feels like there is enough room in the mix to tick it up a tiny bit. But that is such a minor thing for such a majorly impressive album; it doesn’t really affect it in the least.
On a side note, George Kollias’ drums sound fantastic here and it’s nice to hear him do things other than straight speed like he does with Nile. I’m happy he gets to show off other aspects of his style. I mean, he’s still fast as hell and blasting like a madman, but he gets to stretch a little.
Ade’s Spartacus is one of the best things I’ve heard in a good while. I honestly cannot stop listening to it. I would regret not hearing about it back in 2013 when it came out, but then I would have had to endure the agonizing wait to get the new album they are working on right now, so I consider my late discovery a win. If you dig the more experimental or thematic sides of metal, you will dig this album. I do not hesitate in the slightest putting Spartacus up there with the other great masterworks of this type of music. Just go get it and drop them some scratch for support while you are at it. You will not regret it.