Album Review – ADE / Rise of the Empire (2019)

Armed with their furious and technical Death Metal, they came, they saw and they conquered, beautifully narrating the epic rise of the Roman Empire.

Focusing on the past and the origin of the customs of their homeland Italy, inspired by the ancient Greek music mainly used by Romans in war situations, fusing it with modern Death Metal with lyrics written in English and Latin, and also featuring traditional instruments which give their technical music a strong epic touch, Ancient Roman Death Metal army ADE is back in action with a brand new album entitled Rise of the Empire, aiming at educating the listeners a little more on the ancient history of Rome, more specifically on the age of Caesar. In case you have never heard of ADE before, I highly recommend you grab your sword and shield and get ready to head into the battlefield together with the band, because that’s the only way you can enjoy Rise of the Empire to the fullest.

Produced by Stefano Morabito at 16th Cellar Studios and featuring a stylish artwork by Italian artist Fabio Timpanaro (Storm.Studio), Rise of the Empire is still entrenched in traditional old school Death Metal, however presenting a more mature yet aggressive sound suitable for old and new generations of fans interested in the Ancient Rome and Epic and Technical Death Metal. Now comprised of guitarist and only remaining founding member Fabivs, together with newcomers Diocletianvs on vocals, Nerva on the guitar, Cornelivs on bass and Decivs on drums, this talented band formed in 2007 in Rome is on fire in the follow-up to their 2016 album Carthago Delenda Est, sounding a lot more refined, more pulverizing and, consequently, more exciting than ever.

The cinematic intro Forge the Myth warms us up for the war that’s about to begin in Empire, bringing forward tons of heaviness with epic elements in the background and poetic lyrics based on historical facts (“Pieces of the world were born in Rome / Seeping into memories like water in the loam / From the mind of Caesar, seed of the empire / Far from the senate and its opulent liars”). Decivs sounds utterly furious on drums, while Diocletianvs roars and growls like a beast, resulting in a beyond fantastic way to kick off the album. In The Gallic Hourglass the band continues to march into the battlefield led by Fabivs’ and Nerva’s slashing riffs, with all folk elements adding an extra touch of mystery to their pulverizing Death Metal while at the same time sounding very cohesive and dense from start to finish; whereas Diocletianvs’ roars get deeper and darker in Chains of Alesia, a mid-tempo, utterly heavy chant by ADE showcasing razor-edged riffs and intricate beats, not to mention the flammable solos by Fabivs and Nerva.

Even more imposing and obscure, Once the Die Is Cast presents a gargantuan amount of progressiveness added to the band’s core Death Metal, where Cornelivs and Decivs, armed with their respective bass and drums, couldn’t sound more thunderous and incendiary, or in other words, simply bang your heads nonstop to this lesson in extreme music infused with pure epicness. And ADE keep blasting their whimsical sounds in Gold Roots of War, a neck-breaking tune where Fabivs and Nerva decimate their strings in great fashion, followed by Ptolemy Has to Fall, where the band gets back to a rawer and more direct sonority while still presenting all of their trademark background elements, pulverizing beats and crisp guitar solos, all embraced by the warrior-like vociferations by Diocletianvs. ADE never get tired of smashing their instruments, always with a lot of harmony, precision and feeling, resulting in enfolding extreme creations like Suppress the Riot, where Decivs is absolutely ruthless with his venomous drums.

Veni Vidi Vici, by far one of the most electrifying of all songs in Rise of the Empire and my favorite moment of the album, brings forward the enraged growls by Diocletianvs while the rest of the band delivers a stunning fusion of demolishing Death Metal with folk and percussion sounds, and following a similar pattern tribal beats ignite the enigmatic The Blithe Ignorance, alternating between semi-acoustic and introspective moments and the traditional rage from Death Metal, with its guitar riffs cutting your skin deep mercilessly. Lastly, in Imperator we’re treated to an amalgamation of heavy styles such as Progressive and Epic Metal spearheaded by Decivs’ fulminating drums, while Fabivs, Nerva and Cornelivs are in absolute sync with their stringed weapons, putting a beautiful and climatic ending to the album.

In a nutshell, Rise of the Empire, available for a full listen on Spotify and on sale from several locations such as ADE’s own BandCamp and Big Cartel (in digipack format or as a special pack containing the digipack CD plus an exclusive T-shirt), the Rockshots Records’ webstore, Apple Music and Amazon, is an excellent choice for fans of extreme music that also enjoy a good story behind all the devastation being blasted from the guitars, bass and drums, positioning ADE as one of the most interesting names of the current underground scene in Italy (needless to say, you should start following them on Facebook for news, tour dates and other awesome shenanigans) and, more important than that, keeping the flames of the always grandiose Roman Empire alive through their thrilling and technical music. They came, they saw, and they conquered, no doubt about that.

Best moments of the album: Empire, Once the Die Is Cast and Veni Vidi Vici.

Worst moments of the album: Gold Roots of War.

Released in 2019 Extreme Metal Music/Rockshots Records

Track listing
1. Forge the Myth 1:28
2. Empire 4:25
3. The Gallic Hourglass 3:42
4. Chains of Alesia 3:33
5. Once the Die Is Cast 4:48
6. Gold Roots of War 3:14
7. Ptolemy Has to Fall 5:07
8. Suppress the Riot 4:22
9. Veni Vidi Vici 4:31
10. The Blithe Ignorance 5:14
11. Imperator 3:28

Band members
Diocletianvs – vocals
Fabivs – guitars
Nerva – guitars
Cornelivs – bass
Decivs – drums

Concert Review – Primal Fear & Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody (The Mod Club, Toronto, ON, 06/01/2016)

In metal we trust, for metal we live. And last night in Toronto was just another beautiful attestation of all that passion for heavy music, courtesy of the indomitable Primal Fear and the epic Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody.

OPENING ACT: Vesperia

NorthAmerica-PFLTR-TourLet me start this review by thanking Mother Nature for being so amazing to all Torontonians since the end of winter, providing us some beautiful sunny days, warmer-than-usual temperatures and almost no precipitation. And when the weather is as good as now, there’s nothing better than going out with your friends and loved ones for a beer and some good old Heavy Metal, right? If you’re a true metalhead, a true lover of old school Power Metal, last night was the perfect occasion for that to the sound of three excellent heavy bands at the cozy The Mod Club, starting with Canadian Epic/Progressive Death Metal band VESPERIA.

IMG_1344Promoting their latest installment, their 2015 EP entitled The Iron Tempests, which by the way helped them win the 2015 edition of Wacken Metal Battle Canada (and consequently play at the biggest metal festival on earth the same year), this talented quartet showcased all their refined abilities with their instruments during their entire performance, with this demolishing and intricate uproar made in Canada being masterfully led by lead singer and bassist Morgan Rider. Unfortunately I do not have the setlist for their presentation (I know they played songs like Iron Saga and In the Hall of the Mountain King), but I can assure you each and every song sounded just amazing on stage. If you’re searching for a new band that offers complex passages, blazing riffs and an endless amount of stamina in their music, Vesperia might be exactly what you’ve been craving for.

Band members
Morgan Rider – vocals, bass
Frankie Caracci – lead guitars
Casey Elliott – guitars
Dylan Gowan – drums

PRIMAL FEAR

IMG_1353After Vesperia was over, all the metalheads at the venue had a short break to have another beer or quickly go to the washroom before German power metallers PRIMAL FEAR came crushing our ears with their thunderous and metallic music. When you’re a band like Primal Fear, all you have to do to hypnotize the audience right away is kicking off the concert with one of your best compositions to date, and last night not only they did that, but they chose my favorite tune of all to start their setlist, the flammable and thrilling Final Embrace. After that masterpiece, the unstoppable Ralf Scheepers, Mat Sinner & Co. kept firing some of their biggest classics blended with brand new songs from the awesome Rulebreaker, and the reaction of the fans to the new songs couldn’t have been better. Well, you know an album is goddamn amazing when fans really want to listen to new songs on the show, right?

IMG_1370From all new songs played, the ones that drew the most excited screams from the fans and made everyone at the venue raise their fists in the air were Rulebreaker and The End Is Near, not to mention their beautiful performance during the power ballad The Sky Is Burning. In regards to their top-notch metal classics, as a huge fan of the band I must say Angel in Black, Sign of Fear and Metal Is Forever drove the audience crazy while they were being played. Who doesn’t love to scream the words “There is blood there is pain / But my agony is not in vain / Cause there’s life after death / And I’m sure coming back to attack / As an angel in black” together with Ralf and the rest of the band?

IMG_1360The entire band was incredible as usual, with highlights to the explosive performances by Mat and the new drummer Francesco Jovino. Obviously, I don’t need to describe the perfection which Ralf sang all songs of the setlist, nor how guitarists Alex Beyrodt and Tom Naumann blasted some potent riffs and solos throughout the whole concert. The only issue during this entire North American tour was the absence of their third guitarist, Magnus Karlsson, despite having recorded the new album. Three guitarists live would have been awesome, but anyway, it was another exceptional performance by one of the best Power Metal acts in the world (just as good as their 2014 concert in Toronto), and after the encore was over with two more classics, Rollercoaster (another one of their songs I truly love) and Running In The Dust, the German troopers were gone and it was time to set the stage for the last concert of the night. I was expecting Primal Fear to headline the night, but that’s fine, we all got our share of their brilliant Power Metal. There was absolutely nothing to complain about that.

Setlist
Countdown to Insanity/Jaws of Death
Final Embrace
In Metal We Trust
Angel in Black
Rulebreaker
Sign of Fear
The Sky Is Burning
Nuclear Fire
Angels of Mercy
The End Is Near
When Death Comes Knocking
Chainbreaker
Metal Is Forever

Encore:
Rollercoaster
Running In The Dust

Band members
Ralf Scheepers – vocals
Mat Sinner – bass, backing vocals
Alex Beyrodt – guitars
Tom Naumann – guitars, backing vocals
Francesco Jovino – drums

LUCA TURILLI’S RHAPSODY

IMG_1388It was indeed a huge surprise for me that Italian Epic/Cinematic Metal band LUCA TURILLI’S RHAPSODY was the main attraction of the night. Nothing against them, but I believe Primal Fear are a lot more relevant to the world of heavy music than Luca and his crew, especially after all the countless changes the band has suffered through the years. Honestly, I lost count of how many times the band switched from one name to another, all the band members coming and going, and so on. I don’t know anymore if a song was originally recorded by Rhapsody, by Rhapsody of Fire, by Luca Turilli’s Rhapsody or by any other of those weird ramifications. If you’re a fan of any of those bands (or just a fan of one of them, who knows), please forgive me for my ignorance.

IMG_1386Anyway, what can I say about a band that claims to play “Cinematic Metal”? All fans were able to actually witness the soundtrack to an epic battle movie, one of those fantasy blockbusters full of dragons, knights, princesses and so on. The band itself looks very theatrical (and sometimes even cartoon-ish), and their performance was a lot better than what I was expecting, especially the idiosyncratic moves and facial expressions by the band’s leader, Mr. Luca Turilli. It was fun watching him firing his complex riffs while prancing around the stage with his stylish hair and a Guess T-shirt. Truly unique, I should say.

Although I got lost in time with all the changes that affected the original Rhapsody, it was a pleasure to see the band playing old classics like Unholy Warcry (my favorite of their setlist) and Emerald Sword, whereas at the same time their Game Of Thrones-themed drum solo was a very welcome surprise for all fans. My only complaint about their concert was the excessive usage of pre-recorded sounds used for all orchestrations and choir. I bet when they play at any European festivals that shouldn’t be a problem, but for smaller venues it sometimes sounds like a metal karaoke. That’s not the band’s fault, though, just a minor annoying detail in their decent performance. Now please excuse me, as I have to grab my sword, my shield and get ready for battle.

Setlist
Nova Genesis (Ad Splendorem Angeli Triumphantis)
Knightrider of Doom
Rosenkreuz (The Rose and the Cross)
Land of Immortals
Unholy Warcry
Son of Pain
Prometheus
Drum Solo (Game Of Thrones Theme)
Il Cigno Nero
Guitar Solo
The Pride of the Tyrant
Demonheart
Bass Solo
Dawn of Victory

Encore:
Quantum X
Emerald Sword
Outro

Band members
Alessandro Conti – vocals
Luca Turilli – guitars
Dominique Leurquin – guitars
Patrice Guers – bass
Alex Landenburg – drums