CUSTARD – Imperium Rapax

CUSTARD - Imperium Rapax
  • 7.5/10
    CUSTARD - Imperium Rapax - 7.5/10


Label: Pure Steel Record
Release date: December 3, 2021

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History Lesson

German Power Metal veterans, Custard, are back with their seventh studio album. Imperium Rapax is a historical fresco retracing the rise and fall of ancient Rome. From the mythological origins of Rome to the rise of Christianity and its fall under the barbaric invasions, they condensed almost a thousand years of history in one ambitious concept album. The first thing that comes to mind is how well they worked on the history and the concept. Each song is devoted to one key historical event of ancient Rome history.


  • “Children of the Wolf”: the myth Remus and Romulus, the twin sons of Mars raised by a she-wolf, founders of Rome. It is the only song inspired by legend rather than history.
  • “Res Publica”: the foundation of the Roman Republic in 509 BC
  • “Blessed by Baal”: the Punic wars against Carthage from 264 BC to 146BC. Especially Hannibal’s attempt to invade Italia from the North by Crossing the Alps with elephants.
  • “Blood and Sand”: the rebellion of the slaves led by Spartacus the gladiator in 73 BC.
  • “The First Emperor”: the death of Julius Caesar on the ides of March in 44BC and the end of the Republic. The succession war between Marc Antony and August (the first emperor).
  • “The Goddess of Magic and Death”: the tragic end of the love story between Cleopatra and Marc Antony in 30BC.
  • “Furor Teutonicus”: the battle of Teutoburg, a roman defeat in Germania in 9AD.
  • “Ode to the Flames”: the great fire of Rome from the 18th to the 23rd of July 64AD, under the reign of the mad emperor Nero.
  • “Morituri Te Salutant”: The Gladiators.
  • “Quo Vadis”: the ruin of Rome with the barbaric invasions during the 4th and 5th centuries, during which the city was sacked several times.

A Tale of Glory and Ruin

Historical albums are often interesting. Rather than giving a critical and would-be objective academic perspective, they offer an emotional approach and conjure up silent voices. In these songs, you will have the storyteller’s voice but also the characters’ voices: the epic “we” as one could call it. The “We” of the Roman slaves, citizens, soldiers and powerful figures but also of the defeated enemies of the Empire.

Musically speaking, there is a sense of restraint, that fits perfectly the subject of the songs. It is still epic power metal, but with the military rhythm and almost austerity that is, in the popular imagination, the trademark of the legion. Custard plays between historical knowledge and popular representations of a fascinating era. A noteworthy element: the songs equally dwell on the more glorious aspects of ancient Rome than on the tragic events.

An ambitious concept album

While the conceptual part of this release is completely mastered, to the ear, Custard’s music does not reinvent the wheel. Choruses are efficient, soli are sharp and neat. However, the global production of the album lacks some originality, and the vocals sometimes sound strained. If you are not a history enthusiast, this album will probably not retain your attention. A shame really, since the composition is skillful. To enjoy Imperium Rapax, a little perseverance is required but it is worth the effort.


  • Séverine Peraldino

    Reviewer, interviewer and apprentice photographer for Metal Express Radio, Séverine comes from a small place in the Southern French Alps, near Grenoble. Her taste for classic Heavy Metal is a family heritage and after growing up listening to Iron Maiden, Dio, Metallica and Angra she expanded her horizons with almost every subgenre of Metal, from Power, to Prog, a little bit of Death and Black Metal. She mostly enjoys albums telling stories with originality. When she is not travelling around for concerts and festivals, you can find her reading a good book, or playing board games with friends.

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