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Extol - Undeceived

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 Well, after nearly two months of listening and procrastinating, I am finally reviewing the new Extol album, "Undeceived".  What a two months it has been.  I have listened to this album so many times, it's almost ridiculous.  Of course, if you've already had the privledge of hearing this release you have probably been doing the same thing.  This is an amazing album.  The hype was big, and this time, the hype was right.  Before this album was release I considered Lengsel's debut album to be the release of the year.  I have since changed my mind.  Now, I won't say "release of the year" no matter what else is released because there are many great bands who will be unleashing new material for our ears before 2000 comes to a close.  However, those other bands will have to put out some pretty darn good albums to even come close to matching the power of this one. Extol is still Extol, but so much better.  The music is a bit heavier, the vocals are a tad different, the music is more melodic, but overall, if you liked their previous efforts, you'll fall in love with this one on first listen.  The guys in the band said they are leaning more towards death metal on this release and I tend to agree with them.  There are still black metal influences, but they are less apparent then on "Burial".  This in no way takes away from the "awesomeness" of this album.  The vocals, like I said, sound like the Extol of old, but a little different.  I think they are about halfway inbetween death and black vocals.  They almost have a liquidy sound to them (if that makes sense) that I think makes the vocals seem more interesting then just plain death or black vocals.  The music played is nothing short of amazing.  These guys are so skilled in what they do it just puts most bands to shame.  They are technical to the max, yet the music still flows with the greatest of ease.  I hear many influences on this record like Tourniquet, Living Sacrifice, Believer, etc..., but overall, Extol's style of music is like none other out there in Christian metal.  "Inferno" starts things off and it is one fantastic song about the sin of man separating us from our Creator.  This song moves right into "Undeceived" with a beautiful violin solo (or cello, I get them confused), that ends abruptly with a wall of sound and deathly vocals that will not only knock you against the wall, but through it, and the next wall.  Next is "Time Stands Still".  This song is terrific, but so are the lyrics.  The lyrics throughout the album are great, but this song is the best I think.  It deals with a Christian who struggles with lust.  They know they are sinning, but they reject the Spirits conviction and fall to the sin again and again.  They repent, but do not understand how God could continue to forgive them.  Near the end of the song the vocals whisper, "Prisoner of filthy chains, unclean...unclean..." a couple times, then the song ends with screams of "Help me God! Set me free!".  Very powerful!  This could easily apply to any sin that someone might be dealing with.  "Ember" is next, and is an awesome song showcasing the clean vocals of Ole Borud to go along with Peter Espevoll's growling.  The clean vocals are extremely well done in this song.  However in songs like "A Structure of Souls" and "Renewal" I didn't like them quite as much.  Not bad, but didn't fit quite as well.  "Meadows of Silence" is a short acoustic solo that is absolutely beautiful.  "Shelter" is a much different song in that it takes Extol's sound and mixes in a little goth and doom.  I even hear Paramaecium influences with the extremely slow double bass and the slow crunchy guitars that screach every so often.  There is even one section in the song where Peter's vocals song like James Alan of Visionaire.  I don't particularly care for Visionaire, but the vocal style here fits good.  The album ends with "And I Watch" which is another amazing song.  Now, two months after my first listen, I am still just as amazed if not more amazed at what I'm hearing come through my speakers.  The music is brutal, the production is extremely well done, the lyrics are very well written, the vocals are intense, the CD booklet is top notch, and I think to myself...can they ever top this?  I'd love to see them try.  (Review by Matt)

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Well, here we have Extols 2nd full-length album "Undeceived".  This is quite a step up from their 1st album "Burial".  Extol seems to be almost everyones favorite Christian death metal band and in some ways I can see why, but other ways that they view them is iffy to me.  Extol plays melodic death metal with different musical genres mixed in and seem to do it well.  Let me start off here with the production.  This is produced extremely well done and I like the fact things are clear here.  Makes a listening pleasure more enjoyable.  The guitars are sharp, but in some ways I dont like the sound of them. Seems as though that since they are from Norway (nation mostly known for black metal) that they are trying to add that black metal guitar sound.  But being as though this is not a black metal band, it doesnt really fit to me.  The drums in this are great if you can get past the snare sound.  But this drummer is very good and quite solid.  The bass is quite distinct and this bass player definitely adds some bottom end to give it a heavier sound.  The vocals are harsh but he has a tendency to lower his scream at the end of each line or stanza.  One wouldnt notice unless the vocals are closely heard and listened to.  The songs are lengthy and it shows the bands awesome musicianship!  You can tell these guys know what they are doing here and their talent does show.  One thing that is also a step up from "Burial" is that the songs are kept interesting and flow very well.  I like how some different instruments are used here to differ from all the other bands in their league.  Use of violins in the song "Inferno" really help the listener make a great 1st impression.  So overall, this band does do very well and I am happy to have gotten this album!  Rating - 9 (Review by Biff Bartholemew)

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