EXTOL - The Blueprint Dives
The Blueprint Dives
Century Media

To be honest, I held off checking out this album by the legendary Extol, mostly because of the great number of negative responses I’ve read and heard about this release. Charges ranging from The Blueprint Dives being modern rock to nu metal made me think twice about getting a copy and listening. So, finally after a few years and finding a good cheep used copy, I decided to suck it up and give this sucker a listen, if anything get a review out of it. The jewel case was cracked, and the disc itself a bit scuffed but playable, but for $3 I owed its inclusion with the plethora of reviews in the Padded Cell.

The first thing I’m going to say is what a lot of other people have been saying, good or bad: This is not the same Extol that brought us the albums Burial and Undecieved. Well, okay, it is the same Extol, but…it isn’t. Follow me? And while one can argue that Extol has always experimented with their sounds from album to album, with each being a bit different, these are minor compared to the complete departure that the band made on The Blueprint Dives. Is that good or bad? Well, that all depends on how you look at it, I guess.

The music on The Blueprint Dives is really more in the post-hardcore, modern alternative metal vein. The song structures are simpler, focusing more on the songwriting. Tons of melody and a greater emphasis on clean vocals that almost smack of emo, with post hardcore scream vocals more in the background. The song “Lost In Dismay” is just straight up modern rock. Mind you, the production is stellar, and the music is played really well, very tight and nicely done. The vocals…well, hit and miss. Sometimes they’re complementary, and sometimes they’re just annoying. The lyrics remain very well written and personal. I especially like the lyrics on the song “Pearl” (one of the softer songs on the disc, go figure):

Hear these words
My soft voice speaks only truth
I will reveal myself to you
I’ll see you through
You are beautiful
My love
Walk with me
All you’ll ever need
I am
So come stay with me
My dear
Dwell in grace
All that I am I will complete
In you
I’ll never leave you
My hand lies upon your head

I think that a lot of the backlash came from this being an Extol album. If this was a Skillet or Blindside release, no one would have batted an eye. I think if they just did this as a side project release, other than Extol (and with only two of the original members remaining, no one would have blamed them, really), people might have given this a better listen without all the baggage. There’s some good cuts on here, and in the end The Blueprint Dives is a good album. Not exactly my usual cup of tea, as I’m more of the extreme metal type, but for those of you into the more modern alt metal styles, with tons of emotion and melody with the heavy, check this one out, definitely…