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HARDWARES

EXTOL

Extol

(Facedown/Indie)

Reviewed by : Greg Pratt
Rating : 8.5

EXTOL (down to three dudes from last album's five; somehow, you'd never notice, with one dude handling all the stringed instruments here) have always been an interesting entity, their blackened metal/core being a totally unique proposition, one that I've often described as "slippery," I do believe, and I stand by that, even if opener 'Betrayal' here strongarms like old-school power/thrash before getting labyrinthine and frantic. The sung passages are effective like dorky prog, not cloying like dorky metalcore, and the soaring solos awesome like FREHLEY'S COMET. And this is all still the first song, by the way. On this self-titled disc, the band (who haven't released an album since 2005's The Blueprint Dives, which some fans found too mellow) getting more comfortable in their old-man-prog skin, the overall feeling being that, yeah, the jam room has more FATES WARNING posters than NORMA JEAN posters these days, even though this Norwegian crew was once more in line with the latter, sonically, philosophically. Which isn't to say they don't get heavy, growly, breakdown-y: see 'Wastelands' for chugging that would make MESHUGGAH proud and Fates Warning nervous and those complaining fans happy. But that stuff's child play: check out the drawn-out melodies of 'Faltering Moves' or excellent instrumental 'Dawn Of Redemption' for some real atmosphere, the progressiveness and technicality and heaviness all kept to a minimum for some real power in maturity, end result being an almost '80s-YES sound with the technical skills there but muted and kept in check, and, again, the band moving further away from their heavy, blackened roots with every album, with great results, which is progressive indeed.



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