Review: “Labyrinth Of Ill / Exingency” by Extol

“Labyrinth of Ill has definitely renewed my faith in Extol and our ability to play rock music once again. Who doesn’t wanna go to church when they hear the “Patience” passages play ping pong with Ole’s guitar solo? Brutal, but at the same time disturbingly cozy.” ~ David Husvik, drums and vocals

‘The new songs have that perfect blend of hooks, quirks and melody, coupled with the distinct flavour of a line up featuring David, Peter, Christer and yours truly. And top that off with an excellent mix from Jens Bogren. I’m very happy!’ ~ Ole Børud, guitars, vocals and bass

“I can´t believe it´s been a decade since we released the latest Extol album. I´m really stoked about the fact that Christer is on board again! It kind of feels like the good old days!” ~ Peter Espevoll, vocals

A decade after their self titled fifth album reared its ugly head, the return of the genre convention defying Extol with four of the five members who created 1998’s “Burial“, 2000’s “Undeceived” and 2003’s “Synergy” albums isn’t something we thought could ever happen. Originally considered a pioneering Death Metal band from Oslo Norway, the group formed in 1993 and with each album they grew, twisting and distorting with elements of Progressive Metal, Black Metal, Thrash and the avant-garde, exploring more complex sounds. 2005’s “The Blueprint Dives” was arguably their most extreme contortion, throwing in Progressive Rock elements while refusing to let go of their roots in Metal. It would be eight years between that album and their once again critically acclaimed self titled affair, the band then disappearing in 2014. Now set to make their return to the stage and with an album waiting in the wings mixed by Jens Bogren (Sepultura, At The Gates), the quartet of drummer David Husvik, guitarist Christer Espevoll, vocalist Peter Espevoll and guitarist and bassist Ole Børud unveil a pair of tracks to whet the appetite…

…and their return with “Labyrinth Of Ill” finds them just as eclectic and eccentric as ever, painting the white to grey with music that might take a little bit of time to get your head around but ultimately leaves you awestruck. Vicious unclean vocals underpinned by classic Death Metal in the vein of bands like Inhuman Condition seamlessly morphs into Progressive Metal in the vein of Haken with soaring clean vocals and vibrant solos, transitioning back and forth within the confines of the track as if two completely different bands music had been spliced together. On paper that should sound like a train wreck but in reality it works so surprisingly well that it leaves you questioning everything you think you know and to prove the point, “Exigency” is no different. Cut from the same cloth with the same superb quality in musicianship and song writing, it proves that extremes can live together in perfect harmony and opposites can attract. All of that somehow brings the collective works of Devin Townsend to mind, the extremes in what the Canadian has created over the duration of his career very much mirrored in these tracks, if not more so. A triumphant return with a pair of incredible songs, it looks like Extol are very much planning on being around for a while this time… [8.5/10]

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