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They came, I listened, they won - 90%

MetalicHunter, May 9th, 2020

I would have never expected to be grateful of an ad playing before the start of a YouTube video, but life is full of surprises, and although this 2020 could be said is particularly full of horrible surprises, it is true there is a silver lining to each storm, and finding this might as well be a good part of that.

One of the things I have always loved about metal music as a whole is that it is incredibly maleable; you can fusion it with so many different sounds, genres and instruments and still come up with what can only be called as one thing; art. This is no exception, the surprise here is finding roman folklore to be that "special ingredient", and I can only imagine trying to explain to someone that doesn´t like metal that some blokes over in Italy decided to make roman death metal, only for them to reply "Ave, True to Caesar, degenerates like you belong on a cross".

They say don´t judge a book by it´s cover, but the artwork of the album is the first thing you´ll probably see, and despite the insignificance of it to judge the music, I always like to give attention to the visual image that accompannies the music, and I´m afraid it´s the worst the album has to offer; the collage of roman imagery reminds me a little too much to Sabaton, and not in a good way, in contrast to the absolutely awesome logo of the band. I obciously can´t grade the music with this, but the artwork that you see when you look this album up has a sharp, cringey contrast to the brutal and awesome music that it contains.

The drums (alongside the vocals, but I´ll touch on that after this) are in my mind the center of the album, because you just don´t have your average drum kit here, but the constant sound of drums that even if they aren´t original roman drums, sure as hell sound like them. I can perfectly imagine a legion marching to the sound of this aggressive, magnificent drums to conquer some poor civilization that will probably never recover after these italic guys in red and metal armor ensalve them. It´s like a fusion of modern instruments with antique ones, and AdE absolutely nailed that, not just with the drums mind you, but also some other instruments (Which pardon my ignorance, but I just don´t know how they´re called) which keep that actually roman folklore alive throughout the album.

The vocals come next, and they make the other half of the center of this album; a little too low-pitched, but not anything to complain about at all, but it is worth mentioning nontheless. I appreciate that this is one of those cases where the vocals´ volume isn´t overwhelming, the voice blends perfectly with the instruments rather than bossing them around, it flows with the brutal stream of music that this album is, and the bass follows that same paradigm, which is nice given how typically you´ll find the bass either unpersceptible or given too much attention. The lyrics have to be the heaviest part of this album; in case you didn´t know, romans where motherf*cking brutal and bloodthirsty people, they literally killed people for entertainment and where a society dedicated to war, violence and expansion, and the lyrics portray that, but not just that, but also the raher disturbing supremacist mindset the romans had about themselves, and how non-romans where basically sub-humans that should be slaves for them or die. Death metal as a whole would almost seem tame compared to romans, death metal talks about horrible stuff; romans went and f*cking did it!

The album is not flawless though, and the guitars make sure of that; they set the tone, sure, but unlike the vocals and bass, the guitars do the direct opposite and tend to just show up at awkward moments; the perfect and most notable example of this is in Veni, Vidi, Vici, before the main "chorus" you´ll be listening to the music and then, out of nowhere and with absolute lack of respect for how the song is going, the guitars have that high-pitched... interruption? (I guess that´s the best way of describing it), what the hell is it there for? no idea, even though that brief riff could easily sound great at another point in the song, where it actually goes along with the music and the rythm, it goes there. The guitars throughout most of the album are more than good, make no mistake (why would I be giving such a high score if that wasn´t the case?), but they have a tendency to do weird, intrusive stuff at innadecuate moments.

Overall, Rise of the Empire is an excelent example of the beauty that metal is; a basis for putting many different things together and still create a (mostly) cohesive and awesome piece of music, despite the flaws, AdE came up with an excelent album. Roma Invicta Est!