Monday, 20 January 2014

Extol, a brief history

One of my favourite metal bands is Extol. Hailing from Norway, they are surrounded by amazing music, legends, history and visual wonder. Over the last few decades, Scandinavia has produced a significant number of important bands in the many flavours of the metal scene. Extol reflect this somewhat in moving from extreme / black metal beginnings through death metal into progressive and thrash metal stylings. To those unfamiliar with these nuances, it basically means that with each subsequent release you can actually understand more of their lyrics without having to refer to liner notes.

Forming in 1993, the band released their first 3-track demo, Embraced, in 1997, following that with their first album, Burial, in 1998 and presented 3 Burial track remixes as their first EP, Mesmerized, in 1999 by the Swedish industrial groups Raison D'Etre and Sanctum. During this timeframe the band have toured in Europe and the States, played festivals, shifted lineups, signed to Endtime Productions and licensed by Solid State Records (a massive Christian music label) in America and Avalon Records in Japan.

Moving into a death metal style, the new millennium brought album Undeceived and in 2001 the EP Paralysis. Breaking from Endtime in 2002, Extol signed to massive secular metal label Century Media and morphed into a slightly more thrashy style for 2003's album, Synergy. For me, this move to Century Media is significant and notable of their approach. The band members identify themselves as Christian and their music is clearly influenced by this, but they haven't hived themselves off into a Christian musical cul-de-sac. They have taken their music into the secular world to be a light in that darkness. This is exemplified by them then being able to tour Europe and the US with Opeth, one of the most significant metal bands on the planet.

In 2005 they produced the album I favour most from their collection, and arguable their most accessible, The Blueprint Dives. Blueprint was nominated for a Norwegian Grammy and placed in the top 5 albums of the year in Norwey's biggest newspaper Dagbladet (because Norwegians love metal so much they have listings in their newspapers!). Extol toured this album with Opeth again, joined this time by two more heavy-weights, Mastodon and God Forbid.

Taking a break from 2007-2012 to work on other musical projects, Extol returned with a new death metal album in 2013, Extol. Sub have featured some of their tracks in Greenbelt services past. If you don't already know them and like this kind of music, I encourage you to check them out.

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