Released: 2003, Century Media
Reviewer: Lord of the Wasteland
SYNERGY is Extol’s third full-length album and first on Century Media. It is an interesting blend of many genres of metal: black, death, melodic, thrash, nu-metal and hardcore. This Norwegian 5-piece also incorporates clean vocals with death vocals and black metal shrieking with female vocals. Needless to say, SYNERGY has a bit to offer everyone.
“Grace For Succession” kicks off SYNERGY in fine form with a brutal death/thrash assault. The female vocals from Norwegian pop singer, Maria Solheim, are a perfect accompaniment to the second track, “Paradigms”, lending a sound to the chorus that is reminiscent of Lacuna Coil. “Psychopath” has an almost nu-metal/hardcore feel to it, with shouted lyrics. ”Aperture” is an acoustic song with an excellent vocal track and guitarwork and the harmonies on “Blood Red Cover” are also very impressive. “Confession of Inadequacy” (my personal favorite) has a cool guitar riff and a catchy chorus. “Thrash Synergy”, the heaviest track on the CD, showcases some excellent technical guitar work from Ole Borund and Christer Espevoll. “Nihilism 2002” is a reworking of the band’s original cut from 2000’s UNDECEIVED album. Though I’m not familiar with the original, I can say that THIS version kicks some serious ass! Excellent thrash-inspired metal!
The cover of the album is also quite striking. Hugh Syme, who has done covers for Megadeth (YOUTHANASIA), Aerosmith (GET A GRIP), Kick Axe (WELCOME TO THE CLUB), Rush (PERMANENT WAVES, MOVING PICTURES, SIGNALS, POWER WINDOWS) and Slaughter (STICK IT TO YA), has done an excellent job with the cover for SYNERGY. Featured is a sepia-toned drawing of the Grim Reaper on a see saw with a monk on the other end and a group of monks watching nearby.
My only complaint with SYNERGY is the lack of direction or focus the band seems to have. It’s almost as if I was listening to a compilation CD featuring several different bands and styles. It’s one thing to be diverse; it’s another to be unfocused, and I think this is the problem Extol faces with SYNERGY. Like anything from Meshuggah, it’s an excellent album but a little hard to absorb everything on the first listen.