In a continued effort to cater to my growing audience, and based on feedback that I have received over the past year, I've decided to change the format of my music reviews. The new format is sleeker, simpler, and takes less of both your and my time. Please comment on what you think about it; as with any change, there are inherent positives and negatives. I have sacrificed some amount of detail for brevity and conciseness, but I feel like it is well worth it. Without further ado, here is the review for Extol's new album.
Extol is a band that has excelled at every subgenre that they have attempted. Seemingly effortlessly, they have gone from playing black to death to progressive metal throughout their career, and have released solid, technically and melodically pleasing albums. Their reunion self-titled album continues in this trend, but instead of delving into completely new sonic territory, they have chosen to select the best elements of their prior releases and meld them into one synchronizing masterpiece.
As with any album from returning legends, it is easy to give high marks to the band simply because of their past repertoire; however, I’ve given Extol a few weeks to sink into my skull, and I think that it is no less a masterpiece than their past works. There is a new harmonic focus on the album that was only glimpsed on The Blueprint Dives; it can be seen on songs like “Open the Gates” and “Behold the Sun,” while solid tracks like “Wastelands” and “Extol” hearken back to the glory days of Undeceived. A driving thrash element permeates throughout Extol and is especially noticeable on “Betrayal” and “Ministers.” This thrash influence still has a Believer vibe to it, but at the same time is purely Extol. Strangely enough, one of the most powerful songs on the album is the bonus track “Sting of Death.” Its melodies are infectious and its lyrics are authoritative; in my opinion, it packs more of a punch than “Unveiling the Obscure.”
Overall, Extol has introduced complex song structures with enjoyable choruses. The band is exceptionally good at introducing simplistic rhythms and melodies and orchestrating other musical lines around them, and this shines through on the record. The only weak point of the album is “Dawn of Redemption,” which is an insipid instrumental that falls far short of past works like “Meadows of Silence” and “Where Sleep is Rest.” I wanted to give this album some time to sink in, and I find myself coming back to it again and again. I find myself growling along with Espevoll in my car and singing the chorus from “Wasteland” in the shower. When it comes time to put in a different disc in my car before work to listen to, I have second thoughts. All of this has led me to one simple conclusion: Extol is back, and their musical vision is as powerful as it was eight years ago.