Editors’ Notes The Christian metal band Extol returns to recording after an eight-year absence with a self-titled album that reaffirms both its ferocity and virtuosity. The Norwegian trio recalls the excellence of its 2000 release Undeceived by combining the merciless power of death metal with the challenging stratagems of prog rock. Frontman Peter Espervoll has an intimidating snarl, which finds greater balance in guitarist/bassist Ole Borud’s clean singing; the combination underscores the themes of spiritual warfare that run through the band’s songs. There’s a heroic sweep to Extol’s instrumental architecture, heard in the dizzying sonic arcs of “A Gift Beyond Human Reach” and the deep brooding chasms of “Dawn of Redemption.” Tracks like “Betrayal” veer from lacerating guitar attacks to serene passages with lightning quickness, guided by David Husvik’s complex (yet always visceral) drumwork. Distorted vocals and massed choirs add another dimension to “Open the Gates” and “Unveiling the Obscure.” Amid the violent eruptions and angelic interludes are hosannas of praise and cries for redemption, made all the more urgent by the album’s furious swirls of conflicting sound.