by donovan909 USER (26 Reviews)
June 29th, 2013 | 9 replies

Release Date: 2013 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A stellar release that sees Extol remind us just what we have been missing in their 8 year absence..

Extol left many fans with a bad taste in their mouth with what was their final album, The Blueprint Dives, in 2005. They had lost both original guitarists and ventured far from their progressive roots with music that was literally a shell of their signature sound. After the release of that album, they quietly disappeared from the metal scene entirely with not much more than a whimper. So when I found they had just released an new album in 2013, I was quite skeptical about 'which' Extol I would be hearing....the progressive black/death metal from albums like Burial and Undecieved or the lackluster post-rock of The Blueprint Dives.

Needless to say, I was floored by their new self-titled release. Paired down to only three members, the sound is much bigger than the sum of its parts. The return of their old guitarist/clean vocalist, Ole Borud, seems to be that quintessential missing piece. When getting down to the music, there is no reference BUT referencing Extol. To anyone who has followed their releases, each album is truly a sound unto its own. Their debut, Burial, leaned towards a predominately black metal sound. The follow-up, Undeceived, was more progressive tech- death. The next album, Synergy, had purposely stripped down production, with an almost pure thrash sound. So to say this album is reminiscent of any one album would be unfair. What is absolutely brilliant in what they have achieved is to harness elements from their entire back catalog and infuse it with a new energy that makes this album the perfect amalgamation of the ‘Extol’ sound.

The first thing that grabbed me was the deep guitar tones. They have changed from six string guitars to a seven string, adding that extra bottom end, that gives some of the songs an almost Meshuggah like groove. The production is the best they have ever had. While on some of their older albums, pristine production may have taken away from some of the atmosphere they were creating, here it allows every guitar riff, every drum beat, and the vocals to truly shine.

The music is heavy, technical, and they utilize all the tricks in their bag. They have awkward and augmented time signatures, strangely hypnotic - progressive riffs, and almost every song on this album has a different flow and feel from the song preceding it. The closest comparison musically that comes to mind would be Ihsahn, on perhaps angL or After, and even perhaps Enslaved. There are moments of bone crushing heaviness, such as on Wastelands and Sting of Death. There are sections in some of the material that is almost breath-taking in the beauty such as the chorus on Betrayal.

It is ingenious the way they integrate the heaviness, the progressive elements, and the black metal styled screams with very dreamy clean vocals (reminiscent of Mikael Akerfeldt/Opeth). It is that exact juxtaposition that made Opeth so magnificent on albums such as Blackwater Park and Enslaved on Isa that makes Extol re-emerge as a top tier metal act. When Extol formed in 1993, the metal scene was not overflowing with young acts brilliantly mixing so many elements of metal and progressive rock into one glorious package. Although that scene is very different today, with dozens of bands that are almost unclassifiable with their technical abilities and integration of a myriad of styles, Extol stands tall above most of them. It is perplexing how good this album sounds after an 8 year hiatus. It fits perfectly in their cannon and with the rise in appreciation for more progressive metal bands, this could be the album that finally sees Extol get some of the recognition they deserve.

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Insurrection CONTRIBUTOR (4)

Comments:Add a Comment 
June 29th 2013


"Paired" = pared
"Cannon" = canon

Other than that, nice review.

June 29th 2013


Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Great review! Brutal album; I can't stop spinning it.

June 30th 2013


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Could be my album of the year, but we shall see what the second half of the year holds.

June 30th 2013


Album Rating: 3.0

I, for one, loved "the blueprint dives". I was a fan of "synergy" before it, but frankly, that Extol became technical for the sake of it, where I thought "blueprint" actually tried to mix that technicality with song-writing. This album is more like "synergy", and as a whole, in my opinion, more a step-back than forward.

July 1st 2013


Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

This album slays. It has the baritone vibe of Undeceived but also the jazzy/thrashy hooks and time signatures of Synergy, plus clear references to Blueprint and even Burial. The review should have mentioned the Yes influences in the clean vocals on this album, it is so obvious especially in Open the Gates.

July 3rd 2013


Album Rating: 4.5

"...they quietly disappeared from the metal scene entirely with not much more than a whimper."

Actually, when they dissolved after touring for 'Blueprint', which was a stellar record, three of the then current members (Tor Magne Glidje, Ole Halvard Sveen, and John Robert Mjåland -- all incidentally from the weirdo black-metalish band Lengsel) went on to form a new band, Mantric, using material intended for what would have been the next Extol album. The subsequent Mantric recording, which was a good bit harder than 'Blueprint' (and was stellar), had very little promotion. I only discovered it by accident a few years after it was released. They are working on new material.

Digging: Enslaved - E

July 10th 2013


Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

hey jfromnj, I also am a j from nj

weird that somebody would say that blueprint tried to mix technicality with song writing when its not really technical at all and synergy has great song writing.. but to each his own

July 10th 2013


Wow these guys still going? Massive coincidence just bought 'The Blueprint Dives' after recalling how much I enjoyed their track 'Pearl'

July 10th 2013


Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

also j from nj, you fail to note that blueprint was basically a whole different band, with only two original members and none of them on the melodic instruments.

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