Awesome. After only recently discovering their fantastic previous album, Spartacus, a few months ago, I was chomping at the bit for this one. Let me tell you, it does not disappoint.
Ok, I’m going to try an throw out a label and some comparisons first up to try to get you in the head-space of what this band is about. Maybe something like “ancient-symphonic tech-deathcore” would be a good start for a genre label. For band comparisons, take some Septicflesh and Nile, and add a dash of deathcore of your choosing. To be clear, I’m not trying to label-to-negate the achievements of this band, I just want to give you the best idea I can up front of what you might find here.
Now, those are some pretty big names to throw out for a comparison. Those two bands are really at the top of their respective (sub)genres. I do that as praise and not to imply a derivative nature to the music however, as I really feel like Ade deserve to be considered in the upper echelons of metal along with the greats. They have achieved a fantastic sense of the epic on this album while giving away none of the brutality extreme metal demands.
The ancient instrument symphonic elements, which for a band all about ancient Rome are pretty important, are worked in quite well here. In contrast to Spartacus, however, they are used more to fill out the tracks and give a sense of scale. Now, I won’t lie, I am a tad bit disappointed in that. One of the things I loved about their last album was that the ancient instruments would often come to the melodic forefront and take over, much like a lead guitar would normally have done. That doesn’t really happen here very much. What does happen though, in a bit of a trade off, is that this album gets absolutely huge. And I mean the battle end all battles, armies marching to annihilate an entire city-state, you can picture it in your head like a good film score huge. I’m fine with that trade off myself as it gives the album a distinct feel from their last effort.
The metal side of this album also absolutely slays. There are some really awesome riffs on here, as well as some nicely shred-tastic solos. One thing I really like, and this is comparable between all their albums, is that they don’t rely too heavily on one specific style of metal. They get a bit tech, a bit core with some drops and grooves, and bit experimental, and even a bit black metal chordal here and there. It all comes together in a very identifiable way so that Ade carves out a unique sound.
New vocalist Traianvs kicks major ass here. He’s got great range and I hope he has a future with Ade so he can expand his palette with them further. While he for sure has a preferred vocal range that he uses for the majority of the main vocal lines, he expands it considerably in the back of the mix. He gets high, low, guttural, screechy, and even hits some notes. I really want these lesser used elements to come out more on his next album with Ade as they add great flavor to an already abundant sonic mix.
Drummer Commodvs is the other new member on this album, and he nails his contribution to the tracks as well. Blasting with the fastest, dropping with the grooviest, and barreling full speed ahead like he’s on crack. He adds some great flair at times and lets the epic nature of some sections shine through just right. My only minor complaint is more of a genre thing than his play style – its OK to back off those double kicks once in a while and play a more normal drum beat.
The overall sound of the album is solid, but leaves a bit to be desired with one or two small things. On the upside, you can here everything well, the tones are great, and you can actually hear the bass. Yes! Bass on a metal album. I love it when this happens. That really accounts for most of what you could want from an album. The drums are clear and the vocals are very natural sounding with great use of space. The guitar tone is actually rather unique. I dig it, it has a neat kinda scratchy top end thing going on. For my nit picky downsides – the orchestral stuff is a bit over-reverbed to the point where it sounds like it was just plunked down on top of the mix after the fact. I like that its spacious, but the rest of the mix is so dry that it stands out a bit too much. My other nitpick is that it sounds as if maybe a limiter was a tad overcooked during mastering. This leads to the overall mix sounding slightly flat and a tiny bit of unwanted distortion creeping into the upper mids on occasion. Backing off a db or 2 would probably have resulted in a fuller sound. Oh well.
Overall, this is a great album, and I will be listening to it for quite a while I’m sure. It cements, for me at least, Ade’s place with the genre big hitters and I hope we hear more from Ade with this lineup in the future.
Stream the album and purchase/download it below: