Extol
Extol

Norway’s Extol seemed to be that rare Christian metal band that were saved the usual ridicule and cries of “Get God out of my metal!” from knuckle dragging satanic metal heads when they surfaced in the late 90s. Whether it is because like thrashers Believer before them, they played a ‘real’ brand of metal (a sort of technical death/black metal at the time) rather than anything core related, or being from Norway excluded them from such folly, the band wowed all faiths of metal heads with their form of black-ish extreme Christian music. Even when the band got even more progressive with 2005’s The Blueprint Dives, the band still seemed criticism proof. But then the band broke up and seemingly took Christian metal’s respectability with them.

In the 8 years since, Christian metal has been lambasted and frowned upon due to a saturation of deathcore/hardcore/post rock screamo and others of its ilk. Some of it good, some of it bad, but with a few exceptions, it all seemed pigeonholed into a pretty cornered core genre. But in a Lazarus-like resurrection, the core members and founders of Extol have returned to give Christan metal a savior, a savior not solely based on Christian lyrics or themes, but based on a breathtaking modern metal album that’s a fluid, progressive apex of modern music and as awe inspiring as the second coming itself.

Let’s get one thing out of the way – Extol is Christian and the album is full of Christian themes and such. But not preachy, warbly, sermon filled bullshit – but a deep, resonating faith filled allegory for all things good, salvation filled and introspective. And if you let those beliefs deter you from Extol, then you are simply losing out on one of the most evocative and elegantly progressive metal albums of the last few years and one of the most successful reunions of recent memory.

Musically, the band seems to have continued the style found on The Blueprint Dives, but carefully injected slivers of all of the bands releases and styles. At its heart, Extol is an experimental, progressive melodic death metal record. I hear lots of Opeth due to the light/dark textures and delicate keys, as well as latter Death in some of the technical aspects, and I’m also reminded of Disillusion‘s Back to Times of Splendor by the structure’s often dextrous but fluid compositions. There might be just a dash of very light Meshuggah influences also due to some of the shifting, staggering riffs (“Wastelands”) of Ole Berud, but its ever so light. And to my surprise I also hear a more contracted version of Between the Buried and Me in the way the band shift from supine clean moments to lurchy heft (“Open the Gates”). And like BTBAM, Extol appear to have ample respect for Queen, due to some of Peter Espevoll’s absolutely stunning clean vocals, though for you ‘true’ metal heads, he has a formidable blackened rasp for most of the time.

With ten songs and right at the 45 minute sweet spot, the tracks never linger or drag lying in that perfect 4-5 minute mark, and each have some moment of glorious clarity and musical epiphany. The album’s killer first single “A Gift Beyond Human Reach” and its addictive, slithering main riff gives a nice glimpse of the album’s totality, highlighting the more progressive, lurching riffage, but littered with shimmering melodies and clean vocals. There is a balance that shifts between the more elegant, introspective side (“Dawn of Redemption”), though it’s mingled and fleeting with more jarring, aggressive numbers (“Betrayal”, “Wastelands”, “Ministers”) but when they come together such as the title track, “Faltering Moments” and glorious closer “Unveiling the Obscure”, it’s utterly awe inspiring .

Facedown Records needed this. Christian metal needed this. Metal fans needed this. Extol just exudes a redemptive musical and spiritual aura you can’t ignore, regardless of faith. It’s that undefinable sense of contemplation and inner good that we all possess, and Extol have channeled that into modern heavy metal music. And while the band’s message might be Christian, the actual music surpasses faiths and genres and simply moves you with progressive, elegant brilliance.

[Visit the band's website]
Written by Erik T
July 1st, 2013

Comments

  1. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    Deep resonating faith is even lamer than core-style posing. Keep God Out Of Metal.


  2. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    (what I heard off this record was dull as hell.)


  3. Commented by: gabaghoul

    I was a huge fan of Burial, the Mesmerized EP and Undeceived, but aside from a few tracks I found Extol’s shift into progressive rock to be largely unsuccessful. Glad to hear that they are back for another go and looking fwd to digging into this.


  4. Commented by: Ace Barker

    Pfffffft @ Nick Tai. How mature…


  5. Commented by: AARONIUS

    For me this is album of the year. It’s actually closer to their Undecieved or Synergy album in overall tone (more than likely a result of guitarist Ole Borud being back in the band).

    I love everything about this album. Flawless production, huge riffs and drums, amazing vocals. It’s fast, but it’s also atmospheric and slow when it needs to be.

    Anybody out there claiming it’s boring hasn’t heard it.

    p.s. Good review, but one little side note. Ole Borud actually handles most of the clean vox.


  6. Commented by: jerry

    if you want to keep god out of metal, you should keep satan out too. both are lame as fuck.
    also, this band doesn’t need the “christian, but really good” disclaimer. most christian bands blow ass because their music sucks. this band stands on music alone.


  7. Commented by: Diggedy1

    If the band comes up with quality music and the so-called “message” in the lyrics doesn’t overwhelm said music, then who cares about the “message.” I like what I’ve heard from this album and might just look into it further. If I rolled your eyes, kept my nose pointed straight up and dismissed a band solely because they are xtian-themed, I would’ve missed out on a few great records here and there, like 7 Horns 7 Eyes-Throes of Absolution (still killer discovered thru this site) and Theocracy’s last two awesome power metal albums.


  8. Commented by: gabaghoul

    listened to this a few times, I think it’s their strongest since Undeceived, great return to form. Was not surprised to hear the Opeth elements – thought they’re not as overt as in some other bands – but did not expect to hear Yes in here (particularly in “Open the Gates”). Will enjoy learning this album through multiple listens.


  9. Commented by: Guilliame

    If you don’t like God in metal DONT LISTEN TO IT asshole.

    Just bought this. Like it a lot. It is a very different sound.

    I can’t believe folks are all up in arms because others have beliefs and express them in THEIR music. Fuk You. Go crawl under a rock intolerant bitches.


  10. Commented by: stiffy

    ^ HA HA HA HA


  11. Commented by: vugelnox

    Guilliame usually talks a lot of bizarro world shit but this time… he’s kinda right. :-)


  12. Commented by: Guilliame

    Great review by the way, Mr. Thomas


  13. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    I have given Christian metal chance after chance. it has never stepped up to the plate.


  14. Commented by: Guilliame

    Did you listen to this!?

    This is good regardless. Your fucking loss.


  15. Commented by: big ol

    hated the clean vocals at first but now its growing on me. the music itself is fantastic and may even eclipse undeceived.


  16. Commented by: Staylow

    Wow, sounds like I need to hear this asap. I remember this band by name only, and had no idea they were a xtian group. As already stated, if the music is good, then it shouldn’t matter. Nice review, Erik.


  17. Commented by: jimbo

    Lol@Nick taxi . You obviously are too enraptured in your cannibal corpse and cradle of filth trash to experience music that is actually good and extremely talented and well written.


  18. Commented by: jimbo

    And by the way extol has always had the light/dark extremes just check every earlier record. It’s not an overt opeth thing cause it’s always been there. Also I love opeth


  19. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    IIIII don’t listen to Cannibal Corpse. they’re awful. and I take my Cradle of Filth with a huge grain of salt.


  20. Commented by: Nick Taxidermy

    Obviously.


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