Extol: Of Light And Shade

Absorbing documentary on Norway’s Christian metallers

Why you can trust Louder Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.

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.

Emma has been writing about music for 25 years, and is a regular contributor to Classic Rock, Metal Hammer, Prog and Louder. During that time her words have also appeared in publications including Kerrang!, Melody Maker, Select, The Blues Magazine and many more. She is also a professional pedant and grammar nerd and has worked as a copy editor on everything from film titles through to high-end property magazines. In her spare time, when not at gigs, you’ll find her at her local stables hanging out with a bunch of extremely characterful horses.