Bolt Thrower – “The IVth Crusade”

Many of us were taught that the Roman Empire fell in 476 CE, when Germanic barbarians dethroned the last Roman emperor, coincidentally named Romulus Augustulus (the names of Rome’s first king and first emperor). This anticlimactic event, hardly noticed by contemporaries, draws an all-too-convenient line between what we think of as classical antiquity and what […]

System Shock – “Marathon”

Given the overblown and often problematic glamorization of Sparta (or rather, the myth of Sparta) and the last stand of the 300 at Thermopylae in 480 BCE, other pivotal events of the Persian Wars tend to be overshadowed. Such is certainly the case in metal music, where in contrast to dozens of songs on the […]

Deos – “Lupa Mater”

Day 4 of 7 Days of Roman Founders. Today let’s look at a French band’s take on the Roman foundation myth. Deos is another band who go all in with Roman themes, and their debut album, 2015’s Ghosts of the Empire, naturally begins at the beginning. This opening track (following an instrumental intro) takes its […]

Ordo Inferus – “Rhea Ilia”

Day 3 of 7 Days of Roman Founders. Today we showcase Ordo Inferus, an American/Swedish death metal syndicate featuring members of such major-league acts as Necrophobic, Funebrarum, and Disma. In 2014 they released their debut Invictus et Aeternus (unconquered and everlasting) devoted entirely to themes of Roman myth, history, and culture. “Rhea Ilia” is their […]

Ade – “Pomerivm”

Day 2 of 7 Days of Roman Founders. Last time we provided an overview of the myth of Romulus & Remus, and Manilla Road’s reception thereof. Today we move into more extreme territory, to the folk-infused Italian death metal of Ade, natives of the city of Rome itself. The band’s entire concept is devoted to […]

Swallowed Whole – “Domitian”

When given the terms “megalomaniac” and “Roman emperor,” most people today can name Nero and Caligula, and perhaps Commodus thanks to “Gladiator.” But the Romans themselves in their later history often included one more in their canonical lists of exemplary tyrants. That was Titus Flavius Domitianus, known to us as Domitian. While not possessing the […]

Deos – “Mylae”

In the popular imagination, the epic showdown between the rival superpowers of the rising Roman Republic and the maritime empire of Carthage evokes images of elephants crossing the icebound Alps led by Hannibal, or of Cato the Elder demanding that “Carthage must be destroyed,” whose eventual fulfillment saw the ancient Phoenician city sacked and razed, […]

Messiah – “Nero”

Day 4 of 6(66) Days of Nero. Today we’re revisiting a post from this past winter, when the latest polar vortex seized the Midwestern US in a deadly, icy grip. A song about Nero’s Great Fire on an album titled “Extreme Cold Weather” surely embraces the spirit of FROST AND FIRE. (From the archives)As the […]

Autokrator – “Qualis Artifex Pereo”

Day 3 of 6(66) Songs on Nero. The French band Autokrator (the ancient Greek term for ’emperor’) play doomy, industrial death metal. Their 2015 self-titled debut album is in large part a prosopography of Rome’s most infamous emperors, such as Caligula, Commodus, Caracalla, and Diocletian. Nero is among this lurid gallery, his song’s title the […]