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Deus Ex Machina

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Deus Ex Machina Gladium Caeli album cover
3.08 | 44 ratings | 9 reviews | 11% 5 stars

Good, but non-essential

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Studio Album, released in 1991

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Expergi (8:45)
2. Arbor (16:15)
3. Gladium Caeli (9:40)
4. Ignis Ab Caelo (4:20)
5. Se Ipse Loquitur (3:20)
6. Dialeghen (14:21)
7. Omnia Evolvitur Sed Potest Mutari (8:41)

Total Time: 65:22

Line-up / Musicians

- Mauro Collina / guitars
- Alessandro Porreca / basses
- Luigi Ricciadiello / keyboards
- Marco Matteuzzi / drums, percussion
- Alessandro Bonetti / violins
- Alberto Piras / vocals

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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DEUS EX MACHINA Gladium Caeli ratings distribution

(44 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(11%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(32%)
Good, but non-essential (43%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (2%)

DEUS EX MACHINA Gladium Caeli reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Marcelo
2 stars Excellent musicians playing hard, intrincate and original music but... I don't like Alberto Piras screams, and the themes -except "Dialeghen"- sound too noisy to me. When I listening to this band, I have the same feeling I had with IL BALLETTO DI BRONZO: Am I losing something? Maybe I can't understand this kind of music, even more when after several listenings, the noisy sensation remains. So, I can't recommend DEM (or IBDB) despite another (a lot) positive reviews.
Review by maani
3 stars DeM's debut album is a wonderful mish-mash of influences and ideas. And although not all of the influences (mostly ELP and Yes, a hint of Zep, and even a couple of "lifts" from Blue Oyster Cult's debut album) are "well-channeled" - i.e., they are often worn "on the sleeve" - and not all of the ideas are as well-presented as they might be, this is nevertheless an excellent effort for a first album. What is most interesting about Gladium Caeli - especially as compared with later DeM albums - is how much of a "jam" band DeM was: there are a few seriously deep jams here - some in non-standard time signatures - and the guitarist tends to use a fuzzbox or other distortion on the guitar (something which disappeared on later albums). And although most of the songs and song sections use fairly standard chord progressions, the band was already beginning to experiment with some odder stuff. / Overall, this is a good beginning for the band, a very listenable album, and a good introduction to DeM for those who may not know them.
Review by The Prognaut
3 stars I ended up listening to DEUS EX MACHINA in the first place because of the multiple and incessant recommendations of some friends and these articles I read at some website. So before jumping right on to "De Republica" as many of the reviewers I read suggested, I wanted to start from the very beginning by listening attentively to "Gladium Caeli". Quite a first impression I must say. The voice of Alberto PIRAS set off the album from the get go, blasting so annoying inside my head that happened to be recorded by my mind from that moment on. The music I was listening to surpassed all my expectations and hopes I set upon the band before popping the CD in the stereo though, showing me a rewarding surprise. The combination between the strident sound of a hopelessly numbing guitar and a revealing speeded up violin on "Expergi" convinced my eardrums and decided to go with the musical flow.

"Arbor" takes off pretty compassed and peaceful, displaying great intertwined chords from a gracious acoustic guitar (or at least they sound off acoustic) that drives the way to the climax of the song just beautifully. The encounter between the striking violin and the eclectic guitar happens again and lasts for almost what's left of the song. At this point, I realize PIRAS has a peculiar voice pitch that works perfectly in terms of the song's lyricism, sustaining a cheerful conversation with Mauro COLLINA's guitar all along the track, making the song worthwhile somewhat in the end.

When moving on to the self-titled track, I understood what was really going on with PIRAS' voice. I noticed this strange, almost inexplicable fixation, he had about standing out from the rest of the instruments. He just enjoys playing around with the arrangements, challenging the instrumentation to sound particularly outstanding. What he didn't realize though, is that he was actually sounding terribly loud and unclear. That, he solved (or at least improved) on "De Republica" (4 years after the band's debut album) and gave away a better piece of work to the fans. As a matter of fact, I consider that latter half of the nineties album, a possible masterpiece of the Italian symphonic rock. But let's just stick to "Gladium Caeli" in the meantime. By the end of "Gladium Caeli", there's this interesting closure where the impressive keyboard execution by Luigi RICCIADIELLO anticipates to Marco MATTEUZZI's drum striking to reach the finish line, displacing PIRAS' attempt to show off his aptitudes.

"Dialeghen". That's the track I appreciate the most out of the entire album. It certainly struggles to resplendence in between deadly songs like "Ignis Ab Caelo" (with PIRAS' sol-fa lessons) and "Se Ipse Loquitur" (same thing here, Alberto's noisy voice strikes back), but the waiting is completely worth it. The sixth track reproduces quite a superb experience made music. From the beginning, you will be able to appreciate depurated violin and keyboard performing, proving there's more to this "Gladium Caeli" experience. Surprisingly, PIRAS' displays outstanding determination to help himself from thundering awfully and out of cue. He actually performs superbly, making this almost 15 minute suite a DEUS EX MACHINA all time classic. The instrumentation performed on the strings set is incorrigibly great, the drumsticks are marvelously managed by MATTEUZZI, followed by the keyboards of skillful Luigi RICCIADIELLO. This time, the dialogue is between an enticing crunchy guitar and bass twanged off by Mauro COLLINA and Alessandro PORRECA respectively and RICCIADIELLO's keys.

This is an average album I must say. I think it deserves proper recognition due the track I just described up above, but blowing off your money on this early nineties album just because of that, seems quite incredible. This first approach to the Italian band is ungrateful somehow, yet you will learn to love after devoted, conscious listening sessions. Definitely, not recommended for fearful proggers.

Review by memowakeman
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars The start of something beautiful, and i am not quoting some better known artist.

I said that because Deus Ex Machina has been for years one of my favorite bands, not only in the realm of Italian prog, but in all the music in general i would put them in my top 10, there are some bands that i really love but have not reviewed any of their albums, this happens to DeM or Anekdoten for instance, and i believe a good wat to start reviewing their albums if from the beginning, with their first album entitled Gladium Caeli and released in 1991, time when people used to listen to mainstream things such as Metallica or Nirvana (of course i listened to them when i was a kid) a monster of progressive rock was giving birth to it`s first baby.

This album was not the first i listened to them, i actually knew first De Republica and Equilibrismo da Insofferenza which are both mind-blowing albums by the way, the fact is that when i discovered the band and those awesome albums, i wanted to explore a bit deeper in their music, i decided to go to their roots, to the early years, to their first sound, that`s how i found this great album which mixes jazz - fusion with symphonic music and some heavy moments, if you know their other albums, you know that the sound of this one is different, but still great, also (if i`m wrong please someone tell me) Claudio Trotta was not in the band when they released this first album, i mention that because i find Trotta`s drumming one of the best ever in the prog world, and of course it`s noticeable the difference from the drummer who was here.

Gladium Caeli features 7 songs (long songs by the way) and a total lenght of 65 minutes, so put the cd in your stereo, get in the mood and enjoy it because you will have a great time.

When you are listening to it, it is very probable that the first noise that will catch your attention are the vocals, i am sure that Alberto Piras` voice is unique but at the same time it`s one of those voices that either you love or hate, of course i choose the first option, another particular thing, is that as you may notice from the track titles, the songs are sung in Latin, strange no?, another extra point to this extraordinary original band.

The first track is Expergi which happens to be an important piece because it will show you what the band is made, the excellent music they can create, besides Piras`vocals, you will listen to the guitars and violins, a powerful beginning. Arbor is the longest song of this album with over 15 minutes long, the first minutes are just some nice random guitar sound, but then the progressiveness begin having inside some kind of musical jams, after some minutes the song becomes heavier and rockier, you will find a nice violin and flute sound and also a predominat guitar, the musical arrangements are excellent, but in some points it it`s pretty plain. Gladium Caeli the title track starts with a moody sound, with violins and some nice guitars riff, this song actually may be labelled as a classic Italian rock song, despite the different language, this is not the best song at all, in fact if you feel bored in the first minutes, you can skip it, no problem at all. Ignis Ab Caelo and Se Ipse Loquitur are short songs, both of them make only 7 minutes of music, both of them are very alike, with a bombastic beginning full of keyboards and violin, showing that they can be as bvombastic as they wish sometime, thing that they dont do anymore in their last albums, these songs are nice but i feel there`s a moment in which i prefer not to listen to them. Dialeghen is probably my favorite song of this album, another epic this time 14 minutes and kicking off with some nice bass lines and then flutes, guitars which makes a darker sound, the intro lapse is excellent, then the song turns a bit softer and melodic but few moments later it suddenly becomes heavier with that great guitar riffs and the heavy drums, a magnific song! And the last one is Omnia Evolvitur Sed Potest Mutari, a very nice track to finish a very nice album, the violin is predominant here at the beginning, but actually the song and structure itself is alike to the other songs.

I quite like this album, it shows the birth of a superb band and their first moves, some bands released their masterpiece in their first album, DeM fortunately not, so i will recommend this album to all DeM fans and also fans of original and different kind of prog, my rating is 3 stars, good but non-essential.

Enjoy it!

Review by Atavachron
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars I wanted to like this record. I wanted to be glad to have found this freshman effort by the talented Italian band with the cool name and swank surrealist cover art. And what is there not to like-- fine musicians all; drummer Marco Matteuzzi the heart of the group with an off-the-hook, tight and bright performance, Mauro Collina's strong Les Paul right in the pocket with Alessandro Porreca's bass and the perfect synths of Luigi Ricciardiello on harmonic support. And 'Expergi' is a fine first number creeping open through Ricciardello's synth wash, rising as the band overtures. Alberto Piras has a Brad Delp-like wail that fits the music if distracts and the tune swings with cock-rock confidence. 16-minute 'Arbor' has Collina on a sensitive solo blues/folk improvisation before the rest amble in, a well-built heavy shuffler with room left in for plenty of jam. DeM alternately remind of Zeppelin circa 1973 and classic Italian power acts as Osanna, Area and Balletto di Bronzo, with hints of ELP and American corporate rock. It is conceptually but not always creatively successful, making it a reasonable debut.

I wanted to like this record. To appreciate the mix of complex precision with the adrenaline rush of live music and, as with any unheard music, to look forward to listening again many times. But like a relationship gone bad that just won't die - the empty hope that somehow things will work out - it lingers waiting to be more than what it is. But you both know it's over and the writing is on the wall. The title is a slightly soggy love tune featuring some fine keywork from Ricciardiello, and 'Ignis ab Caelo' is folkie and quite good, Alessandro Bonetti's violin fitting in nicely with more great band kinetics from the drums/bass/guitar trinity. Finally we get 'Dialeghen', fourteen minutes of great heavy symphonic rock with contrasting passages of synth and church organ flurries, acoustic balladry, pumped-up power prog and a level of inspiration the band couldn't seem to maintain.

I wanted to like this record. And in fact I do, I'm just not attracted to it. It's not the relationship I'm looking for. It's not my type, and though fine on the surface it is a romance doomed to fail. But that doesn't mean someone won't love it, and to them I say carry on.

Review by Neu!mann
4 stars The debut album by Italy's Deus Ex Machina is, unlike later efforts, more obviously Rock than Fusion, offering an easier point of entry for intrepid newcomers to the band's unique, kinetic style. But that's a relative observation: nothing about Deus Ex Machina is entirely easy. Their music is complex and incredibly busy, played with breathless energy and a sometimes reckless momentum (imagine an Italian MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA after an all-night orgy of amphetamines).

And the operatic shrieking of lead singer Alberto Piras is an acquired taste, to say the least, at times sounding not unlike a warped hybrid of PETER HAMILL and Cedric Bixler-Zavala from THE MARS VOLTA (singing in Latin, which oddly enough gives the band more universal appeal than would have been possible in their native tongue). His glass-shattering entrance in the overture of "Expergi" functions like a challenge drawn in the sand for unwary listeners, daring you to cross at your peril.

Once there, you can thrill to the epic riffing of "Arbor" and "Dialeghen" (together clocking in at 30-plus minutes), or the manic convolutions of "Omnia Evolvitur Sed Potest Mulan", building to a series of alternating high-voltage solos on guitar, synthesizer and electric violin over a heavy but swinging 3/4 rhythm.

Elsewhere the stately title track comes within shouting distance (literally, with a singer like Piras) of classic '70s Rock Progressivo Italiano, before moving into yet another absolutely furious jam by guitarist Mauro Collina. And the all-too brief "Se Ipse Loquitur" ends in a typically goofy orgasm of tortured moaning and wailing: business as usual, in other words.

Later albums would exhibit more polish and finesse. But the raw energy on display in this first effort is hard to resist, if approached with a clear head and a pair of open ears.

Review by Mellotron Storm
3 stars This first album by DEUS EX MACHINA really does sound like a band trying to find an identity and not succeeding. Sure all the ingredients are here and it's still Alberto Piras singing but even Alberto sounds like someone without direction just showing his stuff. This is very much a Rock record that is often quite abrasive and too long.

"Expergi" opens with atmosphere then it kicks in after a minute and vocals follow as he screams several times. He does start to sing though. Check out the drumming 3 minutes in and the ripping guitar after 5 1/2 minutes. It settles after 7 minutes with vocals and organ before kicking in one more time. "Arbor" opens with gentle guitar and we don't get vocals until before 3 1/2 minutes as it gets fuller. It kicks in after 5 minutes when the vocals stop. It continues to shift. It's chaotic 10 1/2 minutes in with vocal expressions. "Gladiva Caeli" has a solid beat with violin and more. The guitar then starts to lead followed by a calm then the vocals join in. Violin is back as it picks up. Vocal melodies after 5 1/2 minutes. A guitar solo before 7 minutes and the organ follows. Ripping guitar before 8 1/2 minutes then it settles late with vocals as atmosphere ends it.

"Ignis Ab Caelo" opens with some impressive instrumental work then the vocals come in after 1 1/2 minutes when it settles some. Back to that instrumental work to end it. "Se Ipse Loquitur" is heavy with organ then it settles when the vocals arrive as contrasts continue. "Dialeghen" is led by the drums early then organ before we get a calm before 3 minutes as the vocals come in. It kicks back in before 5 minutes then it settles with vocals before 7 minutes. It builds then another calm 11 minutes in. Great sound when it kicks back in. "Omnia Evolvitur Sed Potest Mutari" opens with guitar and drums then the violin joins in. Vocals 3 minutes in but they are brief. More instrumental madness follows then the vocals return after 5 1/2 minutes. A guitar solo a minute later followed by violin. Vocals end it.

A good album but maybe one that i'd call immature. The next album shows the band becoming more focussed and then after that they become complex and insane but always within a framework.

Review by apps79
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Highly technical Italian Prog/Fusion sextet from Bologna, formed in 1985 with Marco Matteuzzi (drums), Alessandro Porreca (bass), Maurino Collina (guitar), Alessandro Bonetti (violin), Fabrizio Puglisi (keyboards) and Alberto Piras (vocals).They performed an original rock-opera for years in several gigs, based on a story about the endless battle between humans and nature.The band gained fastly some growing fame, which led them to sign a contract with the Milanese label Kaliphonia.Finally this work would be released in 1991 under the title ''Gladium Caeli''.

From semi-long to very long tracks, Deus Ex Machina's official entrance in the music world was quite a shock.Not only the music was extremely technical, quirky and frenetic all the way, but the most impressive thing was that singer Alberto Piras abandonded the Italian language for the Latin lyrics and their unique flavor.The album was recorded in studio in just two days and the band itself admits that the album has some evident technical flaws, still the music is highly intricate and offered between deep but complicated arrangements and semi-loose sections.The main influences seem to be acts such as AREA, the more jazzy side of P.F.M. and BANCO DEL MUTUO SOCCORSO, MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA and WEATHER REPORT, while Piras' voice has a strong theatrical twist ala DEMETRIO STRATOS, despite being over the top at some moments.Musically the album offers very technical Progressive/Fusion with constantly different themes, ranging from improvised parts to technical performances to powerful and rich grooves with strong use of organs/pianos and endless violin workouts.An accurate and solid rhythm section and a sharp guitarist complete this great Italian group.Massive interplays with keyboards and violins in the forefront, furious and frenetic paces, alternation between 70's sounding organs, edgy synths and jazzy piano parts and a singer all over the place are the main components of this work, which often seem to much to handle.

Impressive debut to say the least.Not fully conveincing, as the technique seems often a priority compared to more tight arrangements, but the result is an album full of energy and postive feelings.Recommended and even more for fans of all the aforementioned bands...3.5 stars.

Latest members reviews

3 stars 3.5 stars really! I pulled this out after not hearing it for a while. I remeber taking a few listens to warm up to it initially, as it is musically much more immature than their later albums. But even then, the playing and writing is still quite good. This is, however, probably the only alb ... (read more)

Report this review (#85027) | Posted by | Friday, July 28, 2006 | Review Permanlink

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