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Extol are a progressive extreme Christian metal band from Bekkestua, Norway that was formed in 1993. The band is known for playing a variety of different styles of metal which include progressive metal, death metal, black metal and thrash metal.
Over the course of their career, the band has released five studio albums and two EPs. The band are noted for their precise, technical musicianship. The fourth album, The Blueprint Dives, received a Spellemannsprisen nomination for Best Metal Album of 2005. Extol has toured the United States and Europe several times with such bands as Mastodon, God Forbid and Opeth. Collectively, Extol has sold over 500,000 albums worldwide.
The last line-up before the hiatus included vocalist Peter Espevoll, guitarists Tor Magne Glidje and Ole Halvard Sveen, drummer David Husvik, and bass player John Robert Mjåland. Notable original guitarists were Ole Børud (of Schaliach fame) and Christer Espevoll, who contributed significantly to the band's virtuosic songwriting. After reforming the 2012, the band consists of Peter Espevoll, Husvik, and Børud. The band released its fifth album, Extol, in 2013. All the band members share the Christian faith, which is apparent in their lyrics and themes. The band is currently on hiatus, while Børud is working on a new project known as Fleshkiller.
Extol was formed in Bekkestua, Norway by cousins drummer David Husvik and guitarist Christer Espevoll, who were both 16 at the time. The two had jammed together since fall 1993 and wanted to start a band. Christer's brother Peter, 14 was recruited for vocal duties. Bassist Eystein Holm joined on 17 May 1994 as the band was rehearsing for a show that day. In an interview, Peter explained the band's name: "Extol means to exalt, to lift up what you give glory to, and that's what's we're all about. We want to give God all the glory with our lives and with our music." Extol wanted to expand their musical style beyond regular heavy metal music--according to AllMusic writer Mike DaRonco, the band intended to show "more of a progressive side; rather than a typical run of the mill group of burnouts who focused more on their image." The style change necessitated another guitarist, a position Emil Nikolaisen of the band Royal filled in 1995.
The group soon garnered a reputation in the local scene. In January 1996, Extol made their first record appearance on a Norwegian metal compilation called Northern Lights. The album featured other local Christian artists Antestor, Schaliach, and Groms. Steve Rowe of Australian Christian metal band Mortification released the compilation on his record label, Rowe Productions. The band ventured to Stockholm, Sweden two months later for their first show outside their homeland. At the end of 1996, Nikolaisen departed so he could devote more time to Royal, and was replaced by Ole Børud of Schaliach and Arnold B Family.
In 1997, Extol released an independent three song demo entitled Embraced. A studio album was recorded at the end of the year even though a record label had not signed them. Almost a year passed before Endtime Productions picked up the band. Their debut album, entitled Burial, was released in December 1998. The album was licensed in the United States on Solid State Records, and in Japan on Avalon Records. Critical reception was very positive from Christian and secular publications. DaRonco commented that it was "a breath of fresh air among a genre that relies on satanic gimmicks."
Shortly after, the band played their first shows in The US at Cornerstone Festival and Texas Rockfest. Extol conducted a four-week tour with Swedish rock band Blindside in summer 1999. An EP was released in November entitled Mesmerized. It featured three remixed tracks from Burial, which were reworked by Swedish industrial groups Raison d'être and Sanctum, and three other songs; a recently recorded one, an outtake, and a track from the Japanese release. The reception from fans was generally negative. Holm soon left the band and was replaced by Tor Magne Glidje, who played guitar in the Norwegian metal band Lengsel.
Extol returned to the studio in December 1999 to record a follow up album. In June 2000, their second studio album, entitled Undeceived, was released. The release saw their music become "harder and darker" than their previous work, opting to move towards a death metal sound. The song "Ember" proved to be a popular song among their fans. Then Børud left the band, so Glidje switched over to guitar, and John Robert Mjåland joined as bassist.
In 2001, another EP, Paralysis, was recorded; it was only released in Sweden. This EP featured a cover of "Shadow of Death" by the American thrash metal group Believer, whom the band considers to be a great influence. After Paralysis, Glidje left the band to focus on his other project, Ganglion, and Börud returned to the line-up. After Undeceived was released, Extol was no longer obligated to Endtime, and they signed with Century Media in 2002. Their album, Synergy, released in 2003, showed an even greater appreciation of the band Believer. The music on the album is very similar to Believer's style of thrash metal. Following the release, Extol toured Europe and US with the Swedish progressive death metal group Opeth.
In June 2004, Børud and Christer Espevoll left Extol to "invest their time and energy elsewhere". Taking their place as permanent members in the band were the return of Tor Magne Glidje and Ole Halvard Sveen, both from Ganglion, that merged with Extol when four out of five band members ended up playing in both bands.
In 2005, the band released what could be considered their most diverse album; The Blueprint Dives, or "Blueprint" for short. A music video was shot for the song "Pearl". The album was nominated for the Norwegian Grammy, Spellemannprisen, for best Norwegian metal album in 2005. Also, Blueprint was voted for the Top 5 metal albums of the year list by the readers of the biggest newspaper in Norway, Dagbladet. Afterwards, Extol toured Europe with Mastodon, God Forbid, and Opeth, and US with Winter Solstice, Becoming the Archetype, and The Showdown. The album received rave reviews: For example, Eduardo Rivadavia of Allmusic gave the album 4.5/5 and writes that "To Extol's greatest credit, offhand comparisons to other bands are almost impossible!" On 9 August 2007 the band announced through their MySpace page that were taking a hiatus. Glidje, Mjåland and Sveen went on to form Mantric, signed to Prosthetic Records. Husvik joined Dr. Midnight and the Mercy Cult, which includes members from Turbonegro, Apoptygma Berzerk and Satyricon.
In 2012, Extol reformed as trio consisting of Peter Espevoll, Husvik, and Börud, and announced that a documentary about the band, titled Extol: of Light and Shade, was being produced. On 23 April 2013, Extol announced that their fifth album, Extol, was to be released in June. Upon this announcement, the single "Open the Gates" was released for streaming on YouTube.Indie Recordings released the album on 21 June in Norway, Germany, and Austria, and on 24 June worldwide. Facedown Records released the album on 25 June for North America. The album debuted at No. 23 on the Billboard Top Christian Albums chart. In July 2014, the band performed their first live concert since 2006. On 17 July, they introduced the names of the additional two touring members: Marcus Bertilsson (Inevitable End, Miseration) on guitar and Ole Vistnes (Shining, Trastania, Fleshkiller) on bass. The Documentary was later released. The band made it onto a list of the Top 20 best Norwegian progressive metal bands in 2017. The band is currently on hiatus and Børud is currently working on a project known as Fleshkiller. During the hiatus, Espevoll quit the band due to other commitments, leaving Husvik and Borud as sole members. Husvik went to play in a project with Christer Espevoll, one of the original members, while Borud went on to perform in Fleshkiller.
During the early 2000s, the band cited influence from Believer, Death, Galactic Cowboys, Meshuggah, early Mortification, Rush, and early Tourniquet. Christer Espevoll stated in an interview that his primary influences for his guitar playing were his band-mates Emil Nikolaisen and Ole Børud. In an interview after the release of 2005's The Blueprint Dives, the band cited influences from A-ha, Anathema, Believer, Nick Cave, The Crucified, The Cure, Cynic, Death, Faith No More, Kings X, Metallica, Joni Mitchell, Refused, Sixteen Horsepower, Tool, and Tourniquet, among others. After the re-formation of the band in 2012, Børud stated in one interview that his influences range "from Death to Yes to Steely Dan to Jason Falkner and so forth." In another interview, he cited the band's influences as "old stuff such as Rush, Genesis or Yes. But it could as easily be an old church hymn or a jazz tune from Chris Potter. Or it might even be just a mood from a certain day that will trigger a certain melody. As far as groove and beat goes we are all fans of the old school death metal approach such as old Death, Pestilence and all of those guys."
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