Extol – The Blueprint Dives
Release Date: May 3, 2005
Record Label: Century Media
.:[Overall Score (out of 10)]:. 7.1
Norwegian metal kings Extol have waltzed back into the metal scene, but this time to an entirely different tune. The Blueprint Dives is the band’s first release solely distributed through Century Media, so one might expect it to some of the band’s hardest material to date. Right? Wrong. Extol has taken a turn towards the melodic after releasing numerous albums that were geared towards the more epic metal side, with songs pushing double digits in minutes featuring a wide array of instruments. The Blueprint Dives, on the other hand, weighs in with 11 songs under 50 minutes – quite a feat for a band who hasn’t veered in that direction before. The transition to a softer, slower, and more melodic metal approach is lost at times on The Blueprint Dives, but when it works, it’s beautiful.
There’s several style Extol seems to experiment with on this record. The first is much like their older material, only with more melodic verses, but still driving at a quick tempo. The album’s first track, “Gloriana,” is one of the strongest on the album, as spectacular drumming drives Extol’s gentle vocals. One of Extol’s strongest assets has always been their vocals, the singing on this album is nothing short of incredible. It has such a natural, soothing flow to it that you’d never believe these guys speak Norwegian (I kid). About half the tracks on this record take this approach, but later tracks lack a lot of energy that Extol has shown in the past. 2000’s masterpiece Undeceived displayed a broad array of musical stylings, but it was far more technical and solo-oriented. There were plenty of long instrumental solos on Undeceived, but you won’t find many of those on The Blueprint Dives. Mostly straight-forward songs at mid-tempo, The Blueprint Dives becomes monotonous after a while, simply because it lacks a punch that fans have learned to love from the band’s previous releases.
I won’t fault Extol too much for changing, after all, a band has to evolve at some point. The slower style with more singing works shockingly well at times. There are a few gems on this record. “Pearl,” the fourth track and first single from the record, is simply put one of the most beautiful songs I have heard all year. The chorus delivers the soothing lines “You are beautiful, my love, walk with me…All you ever need, I am…” Gentle keyboards and quiet background effects help this song absolutely take flight, stirring up emotions in the listener’s heart. The end of the song is epic, with a Spanish guitar plucking while screams are mixed just right in the background. The production and mix on this record are phenomenal, blowing away their previous efforts. The guitars are crystal clear, the singing takes the forefront when it’s necessary, and the screams rest nicely in the background. Really, we should expect nothing else from a Century Media band.
Other than a few other select tracks, (“From the Everyday Mountain Top,” “Soul Deprived”) the album is sadly fairly forgettable. This is disappointing, because there are a few tracks on here that really show promise. It seems that Extol struggles to find a style that works for them on this album, and the lines are blurred between metal and melody at times as the band has a hard time making the two coexist. Nonetheless, The Blueprint Dives is still a very solid album, and while the record is weak for an Extol album, it’s still something you can listen to from start to finish. Songs might blur together, and it might be a tad dull at times, but if all else fails, you can just listen to “Pearl” on repeat and be satisfied with purchasing this record.
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