Review Summary: Extol have changed their sound for better or worse and released a pretty good album.
Extol is a Christian metal band hailing from Oslo, Norway. This might be surprising to most considering Norway's metal scene is littered with a never ending supply of anti Christian acts dating back to the early nineties. I knew sooner or later that someone would counter against all these bands trying to prove how evil they can be. Along with "Antestor", another Norwegian metal band, Extol seemed poised to break the barriers of what Norwegian Metal should sound like. In the past, Extol have experimented with some of the heaviest styles of metal. Traces of black metal, melodic death metal, and thrash can all be heard in their latter disks. With the "The Blueprint Dives" Extol took a big risk, stripping down their sound into a more technical yet atmospheric approach. Many fans standing from either side of the religion fence could quickly point out that Extol have sold out. This is for the fact that the flame of old has been nearly extinguished.
"The Blueprint Dives" has expanded upon previous ideas into a more atmospheric style of music. The metal is still there, carried out by the heavy riffs, harsh vocals, and solid drumming. It's just that the sound has evolved into a Deftones approach. Peter's clean vocals are reminiscent of Chino Moreno although not as executed as well. Personally, his voice fits the music well but after a while it can become grating. His harsh vocals have lost the fury and aggression shown on past albums and now resemble a more desperate and forced growls. Normally this wouldn't go well with me but the music has adapted to benefit the vocals. The guitar work is pretty good despite the recent change in sound. Riffs are plenty heavy as well as providing melodic notes for the music, but abandon the death metal roots of old for a more progressive approach. Instead of relying on the guitar to provide the crunch, it now plays the part of providing the atmosphere.
Extol have balls to experiment as much as they have done on this album, obviously not worried about how fans were going to take it. The vocals resemble Chino in the sense of how much emotion can be carried in his voice, almost providing the vocals as an instrument. The harsh vocals have been significantly been reduced compared to older albums. A good song to hear how Extol have progressed vocally would be "The Things I Found", a dark droning track that features Peter's desperate screams being performed magnificently with a wall of guitar providing the base of the song. Like I said, the harsh vocals have been downplayed and his clean vocals have become more prominent. Not spectacular by any means, Peter still excels at providing a lot of emotion with his voice. Some might find his voice to be too nasally or whiny although not treading emo levels, I still think he does a great job of adding a sense of realism to the music. However, I tend to think his singing might be the downfall as well. As the album progresses, the tone of the vocals tend to drag and might irritate the listeners. I wish that he retained his style of old but I still commend him on trying something new.
The guitar work of the album is played pretty well. Riffs are catchy and still bite but now seem more focused on providing melodies to paint a backdrop of emotion. Tor Glidje and Ole Halvard are talented guitarists who have been listening to their fair share of Opeth. Plenty of inspired metal riffs intertwine with acoustic interludes, just adding another layer to the cake. The drum work is pretty balanced out, blending well with the guitars and the vocals. Although the kit has slowed down to merge with the new style of music, David Husvik plays a lot of cool drum patterns. Standard fare but executed well, fills, cymbal crashes, and such give way to wailing vocals and heavy guitars. The bass’s role is less prominent in the music as the others but can be heard at times. Wrapped around the music is tight production that captures the instruments at their peak.
Extol have released an album that you will either love or hate upon the first listen. I know this because it seems I’m the only on this site that seems to appreciate this CD. Fans of Opeth or Deftones or music in general should give this a ring. I applaud Extol for pulling new ground but I just wish they had retained some of the old that made Extol such a fun listen. This album has it's bright moments and it's dark moments so give it a few runs and decide for yourself. 3.4/5
Updated sound, atmosphere portrayed is pretty solid.
“The Things I Found” and “Pearl.
Some tracks tend to drag.
Peter Espevoll - vocals
Tor Magne Glidje - guitar
Ole Halvard Sveen - guitar
David Husvik - drums
John Robert Mjåland - bass