Peter Espevoll of Extol: The HBIH Interview

Formed in 1993, Norwegian Christian Progressive Death Metal band Extol rose through the ranks of the metal world, touring with the likes of Mastodon and Opeth and releasing a celebrated four-album discography before disbanding in 2007 without much word on the matter. The band’s influence can now be seen in many modern extreme prog bands, namely The Faceless.

This year though, rumors of a reunion were sparked with the tease of a new documentary focusing on the band titled Extol Film. As it turns out, the rumors were true; three of the core Extol members have reunited to work on a new studio album due out in 2013. In our excitement, we reached out to Extol frontman Peter Espevoll  to get his word on the reunion, the documentary he’s co-producing, and the new album.

For those who may not be familiar, who are you and what do you do?

I’m Peter Espevoll, husband and father. I’m the vocalist in Extol, I work with an aid organization and currently also co-producing the documentary about Extol.

As a band, you’ve all been very open about your Christian beliefs. I was reading an interview from 2004 where Christer stated the music isn’t really “Christian” or “non-Christian.” People can be pretty closed-minded about that kind of thing, though. Has your faith ever made you or your music a target of discrimination or animosity within the genre?

Over the years we’ve had some experiences with those kind of things, yes. People that wouldn’t even want to give our albums a listen, or press that wouldn’t write about us, threats from people in the black metal scene and even some Christians have opposed us and what we do.. But this is not the majority. In general we’ve had great response to our music and many have also appreciated lyrics that talk about different themes than most metal bands have.

Seven years later, life is obviously much different for all three of you. How has being in the studio and shooting the film impacted the lives you’ve been leading? Will it change anything?

For me personally it’s just been very fun and inspiring to do something creative again. Both making new music and also working as co-producer on the film. Making both a new album and a film is off course quite time consuming, but my family is very supportive and cool about it, so it´s all good.

‘The Blueprint Dives’ was released on Century Media Records back in 2005. Will you pursue Century Media for the next record? Or any label at all?

We’re in contact with several labels, so we’ll just see what comes out of it.

It’s stated in the final trailer for the film that one day Extol simply ceased to be. How was the decision made that Extol are coming back as a trio? It’s interesting too since every release in your extensive discography has been recorded as a quintet.

We wanted to come back with more of the original line up, and my brother Christer (guitars) was also supposed to play on this new record. Unfortunately some stuff came up that made it hard for him to put the effort and the time required into the band. Ole, David and I decided to still go a head with the plan, with Ole playing both guitars and bass in the studio.

Going along with the last question, did you feel any pressure during the writing process of the new album? Between having less people in the band and all of your previous works held in such high regard, I would imagine it’s not easy.

One of good thing about writing this album was that we actually felt very little pressure. No one even knew that we where writing music again and it gave us peace, space and time to do things the way we wanted it to be. Also being less people in the band means less opinions and easier to write something that all members would be 100% happy with. Having such great songwriters as Ole and David, I was never worried that this album would not meet the standard of the previous albums. Now, I can truly say that the three of us are extremely happy with the result, and we cant wait for people to hear it!

Also in the final trailer, as well as the IndieGoGo site you’ve set up, you’ve said that there’s going to be a new Extol record coming out. Have you found any influence or inspiration in new or upcoming bands?

To be honest I haven’t been so updated on new music the last years. Our influence on this album comes from older bands and artist, for example some great bands from the 70’s.

With that in mind, extreme progressive metal is more popular and common place now that it was when Extol was first established. Did this surge in popularity weigh in on your decision to come back or it just a stellar coincidence?

That’s just a coincidence. We just wanted to make a new awesome record!

How long have you been working on the new material? In terms of writing and production, that is. I know the June teaser for the Extol documentary ended with very brief footage of you guys in the studio.

We’ve been working on it for over a year and the end is near!

How do you plan to pull off all the music written for a quintet live with the new trio formation? Will there be any big surprises in who’s filling in, if anyone?

If we’ll do any live shows, we will get another guitar player and a bass player. As of now it’s too early to say who those would be.

If you could only pick three songs from your discography and two cover songs by any band (or bands) to play as a five-song set live, what would you pick?

Undeceived, Gloriana, The Prodigal Son, The World Around Me (King’s X) and Slaughter Of The Soul (At the Gates).

One last question before we’re all done here. Not that I expect you to, but could you maybe divulge a detail or two about the new album? Make us here at Heavy Blog gain some extra Internet cool points?

Hehe. Well I could say that we’ve taken it a little bit back to our roots.. Sort of.. I think.. Anyways. It’s gonna be epic! :)

Be on the lookout for activity from the Extol camp in 2013. For more information on the band’s reunion, visit the band’s Facebook page and Extol Film’s website.

– GK

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