Various Artists
XII Caesars
~reviewed by Goat

This CD is a collection released by Somnambulant Records, exploring the sounds various artists decided to make when confronted with the task of having their sounds describe or investigate an idea of one of the Twelve Caesars from Julius (49BC) to Domitian (96AD).

Part of me would almost expect to hear a two-hour compilation of nothing but screaming.  But, as anyone in America today can tell you, beauty still happens within the falling of an Empire, and as the Caesars live out their days.

Birds still sing, whales still breach, leaves still fall.  And so, this CD may be truer to life then than my expectations.  Of course, we will likely never know.
(Time travel and etcetera aside.)

So, yes, there are some dark bits here.  Dark enough to be associated with a Caesar?  Does it get much darker than that?  A good example is the fourth track, (“Gaius (Caligula)”).  It’s one of those dark ambient tracks that has sounds like hard-shelled bugs wriggling into your ears.  That squishy, clicking, mind-bending sound that cannot but reflect a nation dying of bad laws and brutish law-enforcers and destruction all around.  (Plus, you’ve all seen “Cali-gula” the movie, right?)  Another is the ninth track, (“Domitian”,) which is all black helicopters and jailed patriots and Waco burning down.

Other tracks seem more pleasant.  Calms between storms.  Calms between debauchery in the places of power and towers falling.  Calms between rampant “Me”ism and invasions and immigrations and cities being turned to dust.  Beauty and torments.  Sunlight and tears.  Blood and soil.  Centuries.

What can possibly be more haunting than an Epilogue?  (Track 10, titled, “Epilogue (Ultor)”).  It tugs at my guts;  the sounds of smouldering on an empty plain which once was filled with everything I held dear.  The Empire marches on.

I do very much recommend this album.  It’s the sort of music I like to listen to when I’m reading.  By this, most people think I mean, “It’s background music.”  Perhaps.  But it is the soundtrack to the end of the age.  It is the sort of music that catalyzes my thinking processes, and adds dimension to words on a page.  Being that I do like to read history, I think this CD will stay next to the CD player for those evenings when I sit down and sort through issues of sovereignty among nations, or a Jane’s catalog, or the conquests of Genghis Khan.  It’s all here, weaved through these tracks.  The livestock crying, the dust rolling.  The whites of the horses eyes.  And always, birds sing.  Whales breach.  Leaves.  Fall. 

Track Listing:
1. Exsanguinate - Julius Caesar, dictator
2. Tugend - Augustus
3. Murderous Vision - Tiberius
4. Bestia Centauri - Gaius (Caligula)
5. Post Scriptvm - Claudius
6. The Great Despires - Nero
7. Survival Unit - "The Year of Four Emperors"
8. Ond - Titus
9. Axone - Domitian
10. Marspiter - Epilogue (Ultor)

Run time:  67:40

'No excuse not to get this!  It's only 10 dollars direct from Somnambulent!  (Not including shipping.)

Also, if you go to the website, click on "releases", and find the "XII  Caesars" CD, you can see the exquisite artwork that comes with the album. The whole thing is beautifully done.  Really, very worth the money. I'm a little biased, but I think the artwork alone is worth ten bucks!

I trust you can search for the histories of the Caesars on the search engine of your choice.