Review Summary: In the world of metal, rarely is there such an immensely overlooked band of this caliber. Somehow, metal fans tend to unite in bringing attention to A-list bands that break the mold like Opeth or Mastodon. Somehow Extol has been left to those lucky few w4 of 4 thought this review was well written
It would be unjust to simply describe this band by making numerous references to other bands and their influences, simply because their music is unlike anything else out there. There is no doubt they are steeped in their black metal influences, however, they don’t sound like a black metal band. Much like Emperor became an anomaly on their album ‘Prometheus: The Discipline of Fire & Demise’, Extol pulls out all the stops on Undeceived.
They don’t rely on horrid, basement sounding production, there are no fuzzed out in-discernible guitars or garbled drums. Their production is clean and pristine, allowing every instrument to shine through with absolute clarity. For this album, their line-up was at its peak with:
Peter Espevoll – vocals
Christer Espevoll - guitars
Ole Børud - guitars, flute, vocals
Tor Magne Glidje - bass guitar
David Husvik – drums
Peter Espevoll’s vocals are perfect, moving nicely, between, black metal screeches, hard-core styled shouts, and even some growling. The band’s main songwriter, guitarist, and clean vocalist Ole Borud, composes their music with an absolute intensity, integrating styles from black metal, death metal, and a heavy dose of progressive styling, really setting the stage for their own brand of metal. Not un-like Emperor, their use of clean vocals, orchestral sections, mixed with an utterly deafening mix of extreme metal is done with clinical precision.
I would be hard pressed to say that I have ever heard anything quite like this. There are moments that would not be a far stretch to compare them to other black metal bands, but right when you think you could peg them down, they completely transition into another style altogether without skipping a beat.
Making the Emperor comparison is the closest thing possible, because of Ihsahn’s astute ability to always move forward, never allowing for his music to become stale and always reaching forward for something new to throw into the mix. However, Extol is extreme, but never as menacing or bludgeoning as Emperor.
They have a much thrashier approach, harkening back to a much older school of music, reminiscent of the beginnings of thrash metal, such as OLDER Metallica, Slayer, and Testament. However, with Extol’s approach, it never begins to sound stagnant, merely, another style to mix into their already original combination of black/death metal. Ole Borud has an almost angelic clean vocalist style, similar to Opeth’s, it is used sparingly and to great effect.
The perfect example of their formula would probably be the song Ember, which also was their ‘single’ from the album nonetheless. The beginning of the song Ember, it is starts out with a wonderful passage at the beginning of the song with a clean guitar and Ole Borud singing, only to erupt into an atonal progressive sounding guitar riff, with Peter Espevoll’s black metal screaming bringing an intense end to the gentle preceding passage. By the conclusion of the song, the guitars have turned melodic with strings bringing it to a close.
Every song on this album is necessary, every song has its own life, and it would appear that not a note is written without purpose. Their execution of this style is never comes off tepid or experimental, it comes off as masterful, like they have been honing their skills for decades and this is only their second proper album.
It is a shame, as the band went through line-up changes, changed their sound entirely with their latter two albums before breaking up. However, that does not negate the masterpiece that they created on Undeceived. Anyone who loves extreme metal in any of its incarnations would easily find something that intrigues them on this album and for all their innovation, this album puts this in the ranks of some of the greatest extreme metal albums ever made….. and that is not said lightly.