Today Norway’s Extol released their first new music in more than eight years. The single “Open the Gates” appears on the band’s self-titled fifth album, which will be released by Indie Recordings on June 21 in Norway, Germany, and Austria, and on June 24 everywhere else in Europe, and by Facedown Records on June 25 in North America. Pre-orders in a variety of formats and bundles can now be placed here. Today the band also unveiled the album’s cover art, shown above, by the renowned Travis Smith.
For fans of this band, the wait has been a long one. In 2007, after six studio-releases, a Norwegian Grammy award nomination, worldwide touring with bands such as Mastodon and Opeth, critical praise, and the amassing of devoted legions of fans across the globe, Extol seemingly disappeared without any explanation. Cryptic hints began appearing in 2012 on an unheralded web site which suggested that a film might be in the works — and indeed, it turns out that a documentary film about Extol is indeed in production. And then it became clear that the band was working on new music. (To find out more about all these events, check out our October 2012 interview with Extol’s Peter Espevoll at this location).
We probably have some readers who weren’t even listening to metal during Extol’s hey-day. For those of you who may be unfamiliar with the band, check out Andy Synn’s January 2011 SYNN REPORT on Extol, which includes a review of their entire discography plus sample songs. You can find that via this link.
But enough with the background . . . let’s move on to “Open the Gates”.
Over the course of Extol’s first four albums, the band’s music evolved dramatically, moving from a kind of technical death metal that included both black-metal and progressive tendencies to a much less extreme sound — more shimmering alt-rock than metal. In a way, “Open the Gates” is almost a summing up of that evolution. It includes heavy, jolting rhythms, technical riffing, blackened shrieks and hoarse roars — but the music also undeniably continues along the progressive course charted on 2005’s The Blueprint Drives (parts of the song, including the clean vocals, even remind me of the influential English prog-rock band Yes, who achieved tremendous success in the early 70s).
In short, this creative and stylistically divergent song is as difficult to sum up with a simple label as the band itself. But man, to these ears it sounds great, and it’s a clear sign that Extol’s long-awaited fifth album is going to deserve close attention. Check it out: