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Extol: Of Light And Shade

Absorbing documentary on Norway’s Christian metallers

Between the church burnings and the various murders, coming out as a Christian death metal band in Norway in the 90s was akin to stapling a steak to your arse, sausages to your chest and wedging a turkey on your head before running through a lions’ den yelling, “Eat it, bitches.”

So given that Extol did just that (the Christian thing, not the meat tuxedo), their description here of it being scary but “also a bit inspiring” is a spectacular understatement.

There’s a lot going for this documentary. Fans will be interested in the band’s return after five years in the wilderness due to frontman Peter Espevoll’s acute anxiety and tinnitus. For others, it’s a fascinating – and mercifully non-hectoring – look into the motivation of the Christian metal scene, with input from both men of the cloth and musicians such as an intelligent and thoughtful Hank von Helvete. If nothing else, these likeable characters reinforce the old common sense maxim: believe in what you want, let everyone else believe in what they want and don’t be a dick about it.