EXTOL – interview by Bushman
Extol approaches metal with a very methodical and intricate approach. One of the most unique sonic factors to Extol is the bands use of challenging time signatures and razor clean breaks, punctuated by speedy lead runs. A Norwegian heritage and home base add some unnamable element to their music that adds a fire element to their unique attack of metal.
The band just released their latest on Century Media. The concept behind “Synergy”, guitarist Christer explains, “Refers to the musical and spiritual unity between each individual in the band, a unity that takes the band higher than what it would have if only one individual made all the music and decisions. “
This sense of unity is only elevated by the relationship guitarist Christer Espevoll has with the vocalist of his band. Namely his brother Peter. It’s this precision, this tightness that translates into the fiercely intricate assault that is Extol.
I started the interview by confessing my lack of knowledge for Norway. Peter says it’s quite similar to American culture in a lot of ways. But the language is an obvious difference. Although Extol chooses to write in English even though it’s not their native tongue. I asked if Extol always had written English.
Yeah. Most bands in Norway do. We start to learn English very early, like from age 8 to 10 years. And of course television over here is very Americanized. We have all the soaps and everything.
What’s popular American TV in Norway?
Friends. Alley McBeal. Actually, I don’t watch a lot of TV, so maybe I’m a little outdated.
Hanging with friends and reading books tops this guitarists downtime when he’s not busy with Extol. As with most languages, things get lost in the translation.
Yes, especially from English to Norwegian. Because English is a much richer language than Norwegian. You have a lot of different adjectives, different shades of the same word. Same meaning. In English, you have like four or five words for Passion, and in Norwegian, we would have like one or two. So in that way, the English language is hard to translate into Norwegian.”
In America, we tend to find a way to make fun of everyone. Norwegians included. Is there a Norwegian sense of humor? How does it differ from the American sense of humor?
Definitely a difference. Like, the shows the comedy shows that have been popular in the last years, have been like extremely ironic humor. A little bit childish I guess but quite fun. It’s really hard to explain because you would have to understand the language. I guess we have some cultural differences. Like in America, everything is big. You have a big country. While over here, we are just a small country in Europe. And it’s almost like everybody knows everybody
What is the average Norwegian view on the US? Especially in light of recent events.
I think the Norwegian people are divided, at least on the Iraq thing. I think most Norwegians think that Bush was kind of a jerk or something.
We started comparing notes on the perceptions towards American Government. Peter was quick to start comparing our system to theirs, and even saw some positivity in the way our government can at least take action.
Of course there will always be different opinions in any country no matter how big or small it is. It’s the same thing here in Norway. We always disagree about something. Actually in one way, I think the American political system can be much more effective. Because you elect one President and you have one party that is the governmental party. While over here, we have so many different parties, and there is no big party. I think the biggest party is like 20% of the votes. Our government is a mix of a lot of different parties, so we always get compromised decisions.
Which is an interesting view, because our system gets criticized as being limited because we only have a two party system. Even though there are other parties, they don’t get the media exposure or have the money behind their campaigns. So most of America are sheep controlled by the popular media that only exposes these two choices and it becomes a “lesser of two evils” type choice.
It has its good and bad sides. On our end, it’s too much compromise. It’s very little left wing this, or right wing that. It’s all very centered on the political scale, so it doesn’t really matter which party you vote for, as the same things will happen. I don’t think we have a lot of competent politicians in this country. Like you said, it’s all about who the media will give the best impression. It’s like credibility is the most important thing. If the media will display you as a credible leader, it doesn’t matter if you actually are a leader or not, it’s just the impression that’s given that’s important. The election with all the media and stuff, it’s becoming more and more like America and I don’t like that.
But Peter is a musician, not politician. “Synergy” is the bands 3rd full-length release, but their first release on metal giant Century Media. Such a move must have an affect on the band.
It feels very good. Finally we are in a big label. They have been treating us really well. All good things to say about Century Media. They’ve given us a lot of support and been promoting the album really well.
Extol as a band is taking great strides to temper the aggressive parts with smoother vocal parts, and some of the leads are truly melodic. For such a metal band the general sound shoots for a noticeable sense melody.
Without melody, there is not going to be music. I mean you can play hardcore or punk, or Meshuggah style and go for rhythm metal, but if you don’t have melody, it’s just going to be boring. At least that’s what we think. So we always try to put melody in there either in the guitars or in the vocals.
Peter was quick to point out his favorite tracks on the new album.
I would say two songs. “Grace for Succession” (the opening track) and “Emancipation”. “Grace for Succession” is one of our old songs. That was one of the first songs we made for this album. “Emancipation”… I didn’t write music for that song, and I just love that opening. It’s like the perfect metal opening. It just really amazes me. That first riff is just amazing.
While the brunt of the Synergy album is precise aggression, some female vocals on “Paradigms” really shifts gears and offers a great tangent for the bands sound on that single track.
That is a girl named Maria Solheim. She is actually a quite famous pop singer in Norway and she is our drummer David’s girlfriend. They actually got together while we were recording this album. And so they just thought she was a good singer so let’s just try something out and it worked out well.
And while Extol is very metal, Peter logs in some pretty unexpected choices in listening other peoples music. When asked what’s the best band he’s heard this month…?
I haven’t been listening to very much for the last couple of months. We just came back from tour. I’ve been painting the house. It’s been much work. But I would have to say The Cardigans. Their last album.
Yes sir. It’s really good.
You just want that chick that sings for The Cardigans.
She has a good voice. But actually it’s a really good album. It’s really melancholy and soft and goes straight to my heart.
If I ever bump into her, I’ll tell her the guitarist from Extol thinks she’s cute. I’ll hook you up.
That would be nice.
The band is only planning European tours right now, so that gives you plenty of time to track down their music. Then save up your best Norwegian joke and go thrash out live. Norwegian metal. That just sounds cool doesn’t it? The next time you want to impress some girl with your musical depth, just tell them you only listen to Norwegian Metal. You’ll sound like you know what you are talking about. And if they call you out, just say, “Extol fucking rips.” and they’ll nod like, “Oh shit, he IS into Norwegian Metal… I want to have sex with him.”