Cartagena: Roma Delenda Est [review]

This five-piece band from Tunisia, Africa recently released its second album Roma Delenda Est; the story of a warrior completing quests during the ancient time of Carthage.

The album starts out with a track very much like an introductory scene from a fantastical history movie, where what sounds like a battle-hardened man is telling his sons tales of his battles in the past. The musical backdrop is dramatic, militaristic, with overt Oriental influences and instruments.

The title track is a bold instrumental track, and you can hear that the artists have been playing together for years – they’re very tight. The vocalist on this album has a beautiful break in her voice that she uses very well. Other stand out tracks are ‘Elephants & Wolves’ where the guitars are beautifully heavy and distorted, the drums are sharp and precise and the mellifluous voice of Sherazade does an admirable job of telling the story. (Sherazade Amous has since been replaced by Nesrine Mahbouli in 2017).

Liu Heng brings to mind all things from the Far East with it’s mandolin-like intro, and then segues beautifully in and out of dark distortions. ‘Peaceful Sorrow’ has a truly mournful feel to it, and the style reminds me a bit of Anathema’s more recent works.

‘Progenies’, however, is hands down my favourite track. No doubt about it. Heavy, sticky bass rhythms, sinuous strings and then BAM! Gorgeous metal just blossoms. Honestly, this is the kind of song that you can see a belly dancer performing to, and then suddenly just assassinating everyone around her in a whirlwind of blades and martial arts. No? Maybe it’s just me then.

All in all, this is a highly satisfactory album. There are a few moments where the female vocals are overpowered by the rest of the sounds, but other than that I have little to complain about.

Did I buy the album? You bet your fur I did.

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Cartagena 2018 Roma Delenda Est