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Kataklysm Frontman Plants Seeds for Ex Deo in High School

Like many of us, Ex Deo frontman Maurizio Iacono, who also spends his time with Kataklysm, didn’t pay all that much attention in school. History class was a glaring exception.

“It was the only subject I loved,” he tells Noisecreep. “Learning about ancient Rome was especially interesting to me. I’m of Italian origin, and we’d go to Italy a lot to visit our family, which was just mind blowing. Seeing all the architecture that was built 2,000 years ago was really wild. And it made me think about the civilizations that were around at the time.”

Iacono’s obsession with Roman history wasn’t satiated by his visits to Italy — it was intensified. He spent hours reading about the legacy and culture, and when he saw movies around Christmas time that depicted Romans as evil Christ-slayers, he felt insulted. After Ridley Scott’s epic film ‘Gladiator’ was released in 2000, Iacono — who by that time had been in Kataklysm for eight years — decided to put together a conceptual side project based around the history of ancient Rome.

“It was so interesting and visual, and I just got really mesmerized by it,” Iacono says. “Originally, I had no intention of doing something big, but the idea just grew and grew. I couldn’t even do it for several years because I was so busy with Kataklysm. But after we finished ‘Prevail’ in 20008, I finally had some time for it.”

Initially, Iacono planned to work on the band with various musicians from across the globe, but it was too difficult to coordinate everyone’s schedules, so he started writing with Kataklysm bassist Stephane Barbe, who studied classical guitar for 15 years, and had good ideas for song arrangements. Then, as the deadline approached to get a demo to Nuclear Blast Records, Iacono asked Kataklysm guitarist Jean-Francois Dagenais and drummer Max Duhamel if they would help him finish the demos.

“I had already written a lot of the parts, but they said, ‘You know what, we want to put our own personal touches in here. Maybe you’ll like it,’” Iacono says. “I was like, ‘Alright, cool,’ and then when I got it, I was blown away. I was like, ‘What the f–k? This is exactly what I was looking for.’ We already have a strong chemistry in Kataklysm, and these guys knew exactly what my vision was, so it was an easy sell for me to use them and I felt loyal doing that as well.”

The band named itself Ex Deo — which means ‘from god’ in Latin — and started working on their debut album, ‘Romulus.’ The record, which came out June 30, addresses the origins of Rome and incorporates elements of history, including the reigns of Julius Caesar, Octavia and Augustus.

“I quickly discovered I couldn’t address the history of Rome strictly chronologically,” Iacono says. “The Roman Empire spanned over 1,000 years, so to go step by step would have been way too long. And just telling the story of Romulus alone would have taken three or four records. So, I went with the story of Romulus and Remus, who were the two twins born in those times. It’s a little mythological. There’s not really proven facts about it. But it’s about the twin brothers that were fighting for control of a little village. And Romulus was the stronger brother, who won the battle, and once that little village was created, it grew into Rome. I also talk about gladiators, slavery, war and some of the stuff that happened in ancient Rome that people find interesting.”

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