Extol – Labyrinth of Ill/Exigency


Yes! I knew the rumors of Extol going back into the studio, but when the new music starts coming out that’s when it gets real. Ten years after the release of their self-titled album, we get new music from Norwegian metal legends Extol. By no means does it mean the band has been dormant with all of their other projects like Azusa, Flood, Hrada and Fleshkiller. They have been quite musically active just not all at the same place and time. With the announcement of playing FurnaceFest earlier this year, it became clear that Extol was reactivating and booking performances comes with rumors of new material. Given the unfortunate situation where they could not play FurnaceFest because of bureaucracy gone awry, may the new music be a consolation prize to my fellow Americans.

Not only do we get more music from Extol but we get more of the original lineup. I am quite excited to see Christer Espevoll rejoin the trio that recorded “Extol”: Peter Espevoll, Ole Børud, and David Husvik.

The two new songs have all of the hallmark Extol qualities: odd meters, jarring chord changes, and death vocals juxtaposed with jazz-infused clean vocals. The songs are technical metal close to the roots of where Extol began on “Burial” but with more progressive and melodic elements executed by musicians who have matured through the years. “Labyrinth of Ill” begins with demon-like vocalizations groaning in disgust with an ominous atmosphere foretelling of the oncoming onslaught. The dam bursts with odd-meter thrashy guitar riffs through a patch-work chord progression. The song flows with great ease even in the technicality demonstrating that the precision of the musicians is as sharp as ever. From the thrashy-death metal beginnings we land in a groovy guitar riff with jazz-infused clean harmonized vocals. The solo guitar work performed is beautiful and fits well within the nuanced harmonic texture. Hopeful lyrics on the unwavering hope in Christ in the labyrinth of ills makes for great soul-affirming music.

“Exigency” is painted with a similar palate playing off of the clean and death vocals and up-tempo guitar riffing through progressive chord changes. The definition of Exigency is an urgent need or demand. I had to look it up because these Norwegians are smarter than me in my native tongue! The lyrics appear to be inspired from the ensuing global chaos from the pandemic and environmental responsibility which ties with the definition. The guitar solo uses some additional tones that make it feel otherworldly. I really liked the polyrhythmic sections in the song where different meters were at play between guitars, drums and vocals.

These songs are a very welcome harbinger of a new Extol album. There is much to be enjoyed for long-time Extol fans as they have refined their craft. On its own, I am left craving more, but as a showcase to the world that these Christian metallers have still got it, this fits the bill nicely. They will be headlining the 16th edition of Brainstorm this November 3rd and 4th in Apeldoorn, The Netherlands, so if you happen to be at the show, you might get a taste of this live.

Rating: 9.0/10

Written by Sean Bailey

1 – Labyrinth of Ill
2 – Exigency

Extol is:
Peter Espevoll – vocals
Christer Espevoll – guitars
Ole Børud – guitars, vocals and bass
David Husvik – drums and vocals

Release Date: October 12, 2023

Record Label: Indie Recordings

Burial (1998)
Mesmerized EP (1999)
Undeceived (2000)
Paralysis EP (2001)
Synergy (2003)
The Blueprint Dives (2005)
Extol (2013) (review)

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