Thursday, January 13, 2011

Music Review - Extol - Synergy

If there's one thing Extol cannot be accused of, it's of staying in one style for too long. "Synergy" was released before the depressive/post-rocky "The Blueprint Dives," and after the technical death/black album "Undeceived," and really, none of these albums sound like they came from the same band.

"Synergy" focuses mostly on high-speed technical thrash, and sadly thrash is a genre I really just don't like, so it's hard for me to really like this album as much as I want to.

The instruments here, being Extol, are brilliant. Fast, technical, heavy and as tight as ever. The production is perfect, with everything being mixed loud, clear, heavy and balanced with each other. I'm reminded of Dream Theater at their most progressive here in parts, with all the technicality and stop/starts the Extol likes to use here. The downside here is that there's not a lot of songs I like to listen to; the playing is phenomenal but it almost just sounds like speed exercises at times. The vocals are comprised mostly of high pitched screaming, and while they still have traces of Extols old vocal style here and there it's obvious that the brutal growls and shrieks are a thing of the past. Peter Espevolle begins to take over the clean vocals here, which is a little bit of a letdown because Ole Borud absolutely blows him (and almost every other vocalist) away with his singing.

It's not all just technical fanfare though, as there are some good songs present. The opener "Grace for Succession" has a killer chorus that really brings back memories of the "Burial" days. "Emancipation" opens with a solid riff that sticks out from the rest of the album and is one of my favorite tracks here.None of the tracks are really bad, per se, but they tend to run together after a while.

The exception here is the acoustic ballad, "Aperture," which really is out of place on this album. Being made up of only an acoustic guitar and Peter's clean vocals (which really sound great on this track) it's a gentle, quiet interlude on the album that probably wold have been more at home on "The Blueprint Dives," as a bonus track.

As a whole, I'd rank this as one of Extols' weaker albums; the songwriting here just isn't up to par with what they're capable of. Aside from a few really good moments that pop up and two or three strong tracks, there's not a whole lot to see here. It's technical to the max, it's heavy, but it's just not that good.

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