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Extol: The Blueprint Dives

Extol's previous two releases, Undeceived and especially Synergy, were amazing works of technical prog metal with death, black and thrash influences. They played extreme music with lots of harsh and clean vocals, quirky leads, phenomenal drumming, and used plenty of complex time signatures.

The Blueprint Dives differs from the band's predecessors quite a bit, and rightly so. Extol's former guitarists Christer Espevoll and Ole Burud, left the band and were replaced by the Ganglion duo, Tor Magne Glidje and Ole Halvard Sveen. This has caused a noticeable change in the band's sound; the music is relatively less complex, the songs are shorter, the guitars take a back seat providing rhythms rather than choppy riffs, and the bass comes forward stealing the show. However, the biggest difference is in Peter Espevoll's singing. More than half of this 53-minute disc features clean vocals. This time around the harsh, brutal screams are less prominent, but still make themselves heard on the heavier songs such as "Soul Deprived" with thunderous rhythm guitars, killer drumming and a fantastic bass solo; "In Reversal" where the guitars scream like sirens over Floydian atmospheres and obscure piano melodies buried deep down in the mix; or "The Things I Found" which is perhaps the most technical song reminiscent of the earlier albums - great guitar work with atonal sweeping and technical leads make this one of the heaviest songs on the album.

The slower songs tend to bring forth the vocal melodies as on "Pearl", the first single off of this disc (there's also a video of this song on the CD). Peter Espevoll delivers a hauntingly emotional track with lush piano and eerie cymbal work. This one is followed by "From the Everyday Mountain Top", a song defined by numerous breakdowns, acoustic guitars, a powerful guitar theme and ever-present clean-harsh vocals. Drummer David Husvik and bassist John Robert Mjaland give us an ethereal jazzy piano and bass concerto on "Another Adam's Escape", which is one of the most unique songs Extol have ever penned.

My favourite song, however, is the closing track "The Death Sedative". It's dark, it's grim, it's evil. The vocal style and cluttered atmosphere of this song could instantly be associated with Opeth during their Dan Swano-produced first two albums mixed with thick, unbreakable walls of sound on Devin Townsend's solo material. I've yet to read other reviews that praise this song (most people I've talked to are more fond of melodically convincing songs like "Gloria" and "Pearl" so far), but this one is easily the highlight for me.

There is also a nice bonus song on the album titled "Riding for a Fall". It doesn't really sound too different than the other song here, so it's much welcome. Never got into Extol because of their extreme musicality on their older releases? How about giving this one a listen? It may change your mind.

Track Listing

  1. Gloriana
  2. Soul Deprived
  3. In Reversal
  4. Pearl
  5. From the Everyday Mountain Top
  6. Another Adam's Escape
  7. The Things I Found
  8. Lost in Dismay
  9. Essence
  10. Void
  11. The Death Sedative
  12. Riding for a Fall (bonus)

Added: December 28th 2005
Reviewer: Murat Batmaz
Related Link: Extol
Hits: 6559
Language: english

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Extol: The Blueprint Dives
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-12-28 08:27:24
My Score:

Much has been said so far of the musical shift that Extol have taken on their latest release The Blueprint Dives. Along with some personnel changes, the band has gone for a more melodic approach here, which can be a good or bad thing depending on your preference. While past albums, especially the band's previous, Synergy, features plenty of extreme vocals and complex, heavy riffs, The Blueprint Dives concentrates more on moods and textures, as well as developing melodic ideas. Sure, there's plenty of thunder here as well-just listen to the Rush flavored guitar chords that float over the bashing drum and bass rhythms on "Soul Deprived", while singer Peter Espevoll alternates between screaming death metal and clean melodic vocals. When you stop and really take a look and listen to this album, and realize that it represents a band in transition musically, it's much easier to enjoy and accept the changes. Other highlights include the raging "In Reversal", the proggy and gorgeous "Pearl", the crushing death metal charge meets Rush technicality of "From the Everyday Mountain Top", and the dripping melancholy of "The Death Sedative", perhaps the most compelling tune on the album, and one that mixes plenty of influences like Opeth, Pink Floyd, and Anathema.

While The Blueprint Dives isn't a perfect album, I think Extol are on their way to realizing the next phase in their career, and over time this CD will probably be looked at as the gateway to a future classic. I'd be on the lookout for their next one, as I think it might be a major accomplishment.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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