Extol The Blueprint Dives

This Norwegian act is wonderfully unclassifiable: Christian black metal with prog overtones? Who knows, and on The Blueprint Dives they’re only making things more confusing. Eschewing a lot of the occasionally over-reaching progressive elements of albums past for a more streamlined, damn near modern and oddly straight-up rock sound at times causing some people to cry nu-metal here, but that’s not true at all. Instead, Extol are taking the sounds of bands as disparate as Opeth, Norma Jean and the general vibe of cold symphonic black metal, and combining a bit of a simplified, melodic groove to it, creating something new entirely. In a way, it’s the best Extol album yet given its simplicity and the band’s attention to song. On the other hand, some of the charm of the band has been taken away with the maturity. Hell, this band is all about pushing the envelope, so an album like this has to be expected a decade into their career. It’s almost brilliant, but it’s hard as hell to listen to, given the overall feeling of intensity surrounding every detail here. The thought that these guys are killing themselves over there for this stuff and all we can do as mere humans is scratch our heads, feel kind of uncomfortable, and move along. (Century Media)