So Extol are here with another release, and I know its hitting the streets with much expectation and excitement. I remember being introduced in the early 2000’s by a friend to the sounds of Extol, and even back then going wow this is something I can really get into.
So lets get you in on a few facts about these guys to get a greater picture to those who might not be as familiar as some about the band. They rose out of the heavy metal scene during the 90’s, a time when heavy metal was peaking commercially. This came parallel to Norwegian underground black metal scene. A time when hard music was characterized by nu-metal and post grunge. Extol’s persistence to pursue a dream whereby they brought death metal back to the alternative music scene in my books, seems to have been a long road but with their latest release by all counts they have arrived. I will always regard “Burial” (1998) as one of my all time favorite Christian metal releases, period. It probably because it still holds a lot of nostalgia of that era of my life at that time. So in a way it was part a measuring stick for this release. Also I favor bands that challange the traditional structures of a genre, and I love it when a band can give a genre some education.
They have 5 more releases under their belt, additional to “Burial” and “Extol”. Besides “Burial” their other full album releases include, “Undeceived” (2000), “Synergy” (2003) and the Norwegian Grammy nominated “The Blueprint Dives” (2005), supported by extensive world wide touring with bands such as Mastodon and Opeth.
Indie Recordings – “ Extols new self titled album is a like a complex metallic alloy. The playfulness of the songs and the brutal bonding of genres are transformed into a fusion of atmospheric and harmonic prog rock, merged with the tempered thrash and death metal that Extol so uniquely master. This album leads us straight to the core of Extol.”
Drummer David Husvik comments: “Extol” is the album that was planned all the way, but never materialized. Partly due to changes in the line up, but also because of the band´s urge to always reach for something new. The album is the recap of 20 years of Extol-history, both musically and lyrically.“ ”The creative collaborative contributions includes, Jens Bogren (Opeth, Paradise Lost, Enslaved), and the great artwork for the release was done by Travis Smith (Katatonia, Opeth, Death).
To start off “Extol” is a great album, and its fueled by high quality recording without over production, yet they have managed to retain some rawness and energy throughout, which for me makes for a much more lively and atmospheric and brutal recording . I have listened to many great albums but some times they are so over produced, that it becomes more an engineering marvel, than an album that captures the heart of the sound of the band. Like some big CGI movies, that only claim to success is because of the special effects, because the story line is too thin to hold its self together, that without the over engineering it would be a disaster. I think Extol succeeds in this department, because you got raw talent, and the production team did not hide that through over production. Look Extol is not for everyone, its certainly got a unique appeal and sound to it in a progressive sort of way. But I would urge you to not just pass over it, as it genuinely is a diamond of musical excellence in this genre. I think if you are an Extol fan, you gonna see much maturity and a greater skill set unleashed. I could be wrong, but I don”t think this album is for the traditionalist, but rather the broader more progressive listener who is looking for something different. Like a good wine, don’t just swallow it, give it time to allow the full taste to burst forth and to experience the rich quality of the serving. The signature traits of Extol are all over this album, and its truly a culmination of the history of the band all rolled in one. You’ll find the album overall has a huge mix of different genres of metal meshing together to create that unique Extol sound. If one is truly to place them in a box then one would say that it is melodic death metal heavily fused with progressive metal and continual time changes. The vocals have some fierce shrieks and low growls infused with some great melodic interventions, while the guitars that mostly race at high velocities can seamlessly flow through classical overtures, to thrash, to even what seems to sound as jazzy influenced riffs. There is also element of some black metal throughout the album.
“Betrayal” starts off the album and mixes death metal characteristics with melodic overtones, with some catchy guitar leads and riffs. What Extol are good at is time shifts, they are effortless and smooth, and never feel out of place or disjointed. The melodic vocals are really high quality. “Open the gates”, again starts with some really powerful and catchy riffs, before entering what I best can describe is a progressive atmospheric rock, before transcending into their unusual musical metal approach, that includes several stylistic influences, again the chorus is fantastic, and I love the time shifts, and stylistic shifting throughout, really hard to place their style 100% as it combines so many genre’s, but instead of it being a mess, their skill set, and composition layout makes for really solid songs and a thrashingly enjoyable listen . Also “Open the gates” is one of my favorites. “Wasteland” carries on their signature trait approach to death metal. Again mixing up genre’s. It over flows with brutal drumming, and adrenaline fueled guitar riffs that punch holes in the genre. This has to be one of the best death metal albums out there, and certainly, Extol have brought all their weapons to the fight, well prepared and ready to come out kicking strong and once again leaving a mark of their unique ability to transform a genre into something new and fresh at a very high level. I could write an essay on the first three songs, just because there is so much to chat about, but that would just bore you. Again swaying on the unique, “A gift beyond human reach”, starts out almost with an industrial feel, before heading into The Extol death metal marching type riffs, the drumming again is powerful and fast, and some great guitar work again, some interesting shifts. “Faltering moves” , Again another brilliant orchestrated intro to the song, and builds anticipation. Musically there is a lot of diversity, and certainly these are seasoned musicians who understand one another, and able to work well together. “Behold the Sun” another favorite of mine on the album, oozes adventure and for myself the intro sounds straight out of an action movie sequence. Wow, their song arrangement and time shifts are just so good, and continually they are able to keep your attention. “Dawn of redemption” again shows the diversity of influence and the wide range of metal influence, starting with an intro that has one thinking you gonna be hearing a ballad from Extol, it turns out to be a beautiful piece of composition, very melodic instrumental piece that is very peaceful and emotional in a comforting way. Great atmospheric feel. “Ministers” sees them back to their usual expected. “Extol”, starts with a classical introduction, before dropping into an anthemic powerful guitar driven song. The album finishes strong with “Unveiling the Obscure” not dropping the ball in their signature attack.
To Conclude what Extol offer the metal community is a bonding of lyrical substance meshed with their ability to create boundary breaking musical excellence. I could not help but be instantly captivated by the harsh and melodic elements that interlace themselves so beautifully. There is not a single bad song on this release. Each song is different from the other and only adds to the diversity and originality of the band. I can get bored and dis-interest easily if the songs are all similar and you cant tell them apart, but you will not find any of that on here. Extol has managed to create a timeless masterpiece and the vision of the band seems clearer than ever.
02. Open The Gates [Listen]
04. A Gift Beyond Human Reach [Music Video Below]
05. Faltering Moves
06. Behold The Sun
07. Dawn Of Redemption
10. Unveiling The Obscure
Peter Espevoll – vocals
David Husvik – drums, vocals
Ole Børud – guitars, bass, vocals
“Burial” (1998) – Endtime Productions/Solid State Records
“Mesmerized” EP (1999) – Endtime Productions/Solid State Records
“Undeceived” (2000) – Endtime Productions/Solid State Records
“Paralysis” EP (2001) – Endtime Productions
“Synergy” (2003) – Century Media Records/Solid State Records
“The Blueprint Dives” (2005) – Century Media Records/Solid State Records
“Extol” (2013) – Indie Recordings
Interview with Ole Børud [Oct. 2012]
Record Label: Indie Recordings, June 2013
Video below “Extol-Album Teaser”
Video below “A Gift Beyond Human Reach”