Extreme metal and Christianity don’t always make for the friendliest of bedfellows, but for Norwegians Extol, there’s no contradiction between faith and furious riffing. It’s been almost ten years since their last album came out—with supergroups, collaborations and side-projects accounting for the interim span. Now, it’s time for Extol to rise again, beginning a whole new ministry, with their fifth and latest self-titled album. Ghost Cult chatted with drummer David Husvik to learn more.
The Blueprint Dives, your last album, was released back in 2005 and now, seven years later, you guys return with a brand new album. Where have you been?
Yeah, we’ve been gone for a while. Tor Magne, Ole Halvard and John Robert established their own band, Mantric, that was out on Prosthetic Records. I was busy doing drums for Doctor Midnight & The Mercy Cult with Turbonegro‘s Hank Von Hell, and also some other projects. The current, and also earlier guitar player, Ole Børud, has his own successful solo project he’s been committed to the last years. Peter (Espevoll), who really needed a break from music seven years ago, has been giving his family and personal life full attention. But, yeah, now we’re back together.
Your biography states that “this album goes straight to the core of Extol”. What is the core of Extol?
The core of Extol is technical, progressive, and melodic death metal. Or in other words; the music we’ve generally been known for.
In the past Extol was often compared to bands like Opeth but on the new album you guys have really come into your own. Do you agree?
Good to hear you say that. We basically make the music that comes to us, no matter our inspirations. But for some reason the fans and the press have compared us to all kinds of Scandinavian bands over the past 20 years. It might be exotic that we are from Norway and all, but people never seemed to notice most of our musical inspirations came from North American bands. Anyways, to answer your question, I believe that our break from the metal scene has made us more independent of all that. If people feel we do our own thing now, that is a huge compliment.
How did the writing and recording process for the Extol album go? What were you guys aiming for?
Actually, it must have been one of the smoothest album processes so far. The fact that we’re only three members in the band must have had lots to do with it. We all felt quite connected from the start this time, both musically, but also in decisions about quality level—where to put the bar.Ideas were sent back and forth for a while and we teamed up when the time was right, to combine the best pieces. We agreed on making heavier material this time. We wanted to make a solid, strong metal album with a basis in the death metal and prog that first gathered us back in the 90s. We wanted to mix the old mentality with the creative potential we hold today as a band. All the songs were recorded in different studios here in Norway, which was helpful for the process, since we produced the album ourselves.
Famed graphic artist Travis Smith took care of the artwork. How did he become involved?
All the way back in 2003 we considered him for our Synergy album (the cover, by the way, is one of Travis’ absolute favourites). Back then we went with Hugh Syme (Rush), who we were so stoked to work with. Now, 10 years later, we thought it was about time to follow up the idea of using Travis. We loved what he did for Katatonia and we begged him to do work for us. Luckily he agreed, and said yes.
The new album is mixed by Jens Bogren, pretty much the go-to guy in metal nowadays. How did he become involved in the process?
Again, same story with him. He emailed me right before we went in the studio for Synergy, and he offered his services. At that point we didn’t know about him at all. It wasn’t until Opeth‘s Watershed in 2008 we realised it was him and also what an excellent engineer he was. We asked him to mix our album, and he decided to go for it.
Some members in Extol have a Christian background. Do you consider Extol a Christian band per se or is religion more a private matter?
Extol never defined itself as a “Christian band”, but some of the fans and people in the music industry did. We’re just guys playing metal. But the fact that we personally believe in Jesus Christ shines through in some of our lyrics. Thats why some people are labeling us, I think. A band can never be Christian, but people can.
The Norwegian rock and metal scene seems to be in bloom this year with brilliant releases by In Vain, Kvelertak, Shining (NOR) and you guys. What’s stirring in the fjords?
Haha, yeah that’s true. There must be something in the water, haha. Norway has a fast-growing music scene in general, and I guess we’re all just spoiled with lots of opportunities. The country is wealthy and the government put money aside to support their talents with whatever they need. Norway has maybe too many good bands now. You should watch out for BeneaReach and Mantric as well!
What touring plans do you have?
So far we’ve not decided whether we’ll tour or not. There is a discussion going on, but we still haven’t come to a final conclusion. Keep your eyes open!