Cóndor – Duin

cóndor-duin

Colombian band Cóndor presents an album which European Romantics might have undertaken had their tastes run to heavy metal, with an explicit influence from Bedřich Smetana and a more subtle yet pervasive inspiration from Jean Sibelius, manifested in a style of underground metal that sounds like Atheist covering Graveland. An organic, fluent and natural flow embodied in sweeping melodies and choking riffs that overcome and seem to grow out of each other independent of the composer, as if taking a hint from a young Friedrich Nietzsche, gives this music a childish and innocent Dionysian center driven by instinct. The result is an album that must be listened to as a whole experience to find the moments which strike us as stereotypically metal sharing space with entirely contrasting ideas which set up the emotional background to those moments of violent intensity.

Unlike modern-day posturing in black metal, Duin looks toward the older tradition of abstract Romantic 19th century Nationalism as expressed in classical music and folk art. Both betray their presence in the use of typically long, modal, easy-to-get melodies of the folk kind. Sibelius lives in that tendency to drift into very paused passages and quiet dynamics seemlessly which was so characteristic of Nadia. In this sense, we could say that while Nadia was a Sibelian album, Duin is more of a Smetana-Fudali-ean album. It exists in a type of magical music like that conceived in Marsilio Ficino’s mind, a form of sonic art which follow celestial designs with metaphor of the spirit such that its effect over us is as sure and profound as that of the Sun and the Moon on the creatures of a forest. These strong ‘authentic’ folk inclinations serve as converging points of most visible influences. There is both a sylvan spirit underlying the music and a warm home-welcoming one as opposed to a warlike and epic one. These last two characters are instead represented in the more energetic passages which do not override the greater scheme of things and instead contribute to a desire for adventure that does not quite reach epic proportions. This follows the general theme of this work as, in contrast to the Apollonian rigid order of Beethoven or Bach, a wandering organic Dionysian spirit which aims to be appreciate from the atmosphere it saturates with meaning instead of a linear narrative progressing toward the conclusion of a musical argument. Like the naturalistic music of Burzum, Duin follows the thought process that repetition of a riff does not end when the composer or audience wants it to, but when the nature of that riff in the context of the song indicates a need for change. A kind of musical “sixth sense” pervades this album.

The first track, “Río Frío” starts off by quoting the last track from the debut album, El Roble Será Mi Trono Eterno for a few measures only to quiet down and performing an adaptation of Smetana’s Vltava for overidden and distorted guitars and bass. The second track, “El Lamento de Penélope” will probably give the strongest impression of this relation to Absurd in its urgent and minimalistic rhythmic riffing. The way the following melodies are carried in triple time reinforce this view until Vltava‘s theme is used in the climax section of the song. The following song, “La Gran Laguna,” is a roller coaster ride which takes us again through vistas of minimalist folk metal with quasi-marching beats and prominent melancolic melodies alternationg with ambient-like sections with a picked clean guitar outlining chords over the roar of its distorted partner. An instance of this supports the song’s solo section, which show off how Cóndor has stepped up even in its melodic treatment of solos which when compared to Nadia display a more mature independence from guitar-scale blocks.

“Coeur-de-lion” starts the visible slowing down and gradual elongating of expression that the album manifests increasingly a step at a time. The riffs are given a different tone by both the change in pacing, along with the playful exchange and duple and triple times which in different inceptions point the music in different directions. With a 2/4 reciting inisting, childish urgency, a 4/4 allowing for settling feeling, a 3/4 for a more bouncy feeling which slowed down and seen differently can be a martial and/or swinging 6/4 or 6/8, depending on the note value. “Condordäle” takes us one step further in what is almost a dirge in the beginning but which allows smooth and sensuous transition between riffs forming layers of an idea, with clear vocals reminiscent of a classical chorus.

“Helle Gemundon in Mod-Sefan” begins with a clear, long and emotional melody line gradually introduced and repeated, but is always interrupted by chords which sound dissonant in the context so as to disrupt the final resolution that we might expect in the line. Each time the line is allowed more time and to soar higher and higher. In the last of these repetitions the song then turns to the riff styling of the aforementioned dissonance-inducing chords, and riff after riff is wrought from this idea until its natural duration is expired. A break is brought which leads into a more conventional metal section comes in which a series of solos in the same vein are played. Mid-paced, emotional, almost aloof and relaxed playing which would not seem out of place in urban underground styles of rock characteristic of Latin America.

“Adagio” is an interlude for bass and clean electric guitars which serves as a beautiful gasping point before the last track, named after the album, that serves as a closing for the album. After the slowing down and exploration of different influences towards the middle of the album, a bit of everything is brought back in this song with a slow beginning which blooms almost inperceptibly harsh, hammering riffs, slow, folk-song melodies in lullabying triple time, which again alternate into a bridge of descending chromatic notes in the classical style leading directly into melodic indulgence in solo and riff proper of that folk metal which displays the transparency of rock and the honeset simplicity of the folk melody.

This is an album in which each song feels “better” than the one before. But when listened to many times one discovers this is not really the case. It is just that the progression between songs and within songs makes it feel as if each new event in the music is reaching towards a new goal, new vistas, but always through the eye of the Cóndor. Just like the compositions of the young Sebastian Bach shortly before and after his visiting Dietrich Buxtehude in Lübeck betrayed the unmistakable mark of the old master in form and method but never bowed down to him so that the pieces were, nevertheless, stamped with the young genius’ name, so does the band manages yet again to sound like itself independently or in spite of its distinguishable inspirations. Sounding like a more seasoned band than on Nadia, the telling silhouette of the Cóndor comes out of the foggy shadows and into a golden Autumn light.

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35 thoughts on “Cóndor – Duin

  1. (the true) Richard Head says:

    Good review, I’m looking forward to scoring a copy of this one. It took me a long time to get into Nadia but when it clicked, buddy did it click.

  2. Parasite says:

    Still havent put the time aside to give their first album a listen. When it “clicked” for you, how would you describe it, their sound i mean.

    1. (the true) Richard Head says:

      I’d say it’s sort of like kitchen sink metal with a little of African Jewish folk. Although I was kinda drunk when I listened and in the arms of my best buddy “buffed up Joe Hung”, so it’s hard to say. But I like it hard, if you know what I mean.

    2. Rosenberg says:

      Nadia, with its pacing and assertiveness it had (in comparison to this second album, especially) seemed like the rolling of waves.
      It’s very varied and the connections under it are hard to see at first. You need to get acquainted with the album, stop seeing each section individually and rather as how it acts in relation to its surroundings and then it is easy to see how it is a good concept album that spreads in several directions.
      The merit is not in a hooky or stand-out innovation like a Demilich, for instance. But a much more subtle one in which all these influences are fused better than almost any other band I’ve listened to to make something really new.
      In my opinion, no other album sounds quite like Nadia.

    3. Original Richard Head says:

      I was listening with the idea that it was eventually going to reveal itself to be a black, death, or doom metal album, but it never did. Once I gave up on that idea, and just listened without trying to compare it to other albums in some or another genre, I realized that it is just plain good metal and doesn’t require any points of reference outside of itself to be understood. My fault for compulsively trying to isolate the genre and influences if the album in the first place.

  3. Hairy Ballz in yo face says:

    Alright all my nillas in da house °
    Tell me if this ain’t the coolest drum shit youve seen in a long time!

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y_OIny3HUR0

  4. Black Commentator says:

    An over-bearing and pretentious review rife with run on sentences and unnecessary showmanship. It’s also clear that the reviewer has an intimate and personal relationship with the music distinctly different from one had by an independent observer but the responsible party. Try hard shillery. I am disappointed.

    1. (the true) Richard Head says:

      Nah man, actually he’s review is spot on and an awesome read. Unfortunately bitter people with tiny penises like you will always be ready to hate. I respect the reviewer’s style and in fact belief more reviewers just like him are needed.

      1. Black Commentator says:

        “I liked it therefore your criticism is invalid.” You’re capable of doing better I know it.

        http://www.deathmetal.org/news/condor-nadia/

        Descriptive and succinct. Notably absent is the need for the reviewer to demonstrate prowess and how-much-I-read-about wherever possible. Take note.

        1. Black Commentator says:

          Another curiousity: how could you say his review is spot on when by your own admittance, you haven’t heard it?

          1. Original Richard Head says:

            That ain’t Richard, this is Richard. Just ignore everything “I” say itt and others.

      2. tiny midget says:

        i dunno richard, black commentators usually have large penises.

      3. Original Richard Head says:

        It’s like you’re trying to soil my name, but you don’t realize that no one takes me seriously anyway. I must have gotten you genuinely rustled in the past though. Are you the guy who threw a fit about Mr. Stevens using gore photos last year?

    2. Rosenberg says:

      So, you dislike picture-painting in writing. Fine.

      What part didn’t you understand so I can point you in the direction of where to learn about it, because I am not pulling stuff out of my ass as you seem to be implying.

      Granted, some of the views expressed are my own opinion alone.

      1. Black Commentator says:

        Don’t presume that another individual not liking something means they didn’t understand it. That is not how value works my friend. A person can be made to understand the subtlies and finer points of a thing you hold in high regard yet that is no guarantee the person will come to value those things as you do.

        My dislike was not the focal point of the criticism either. I enjoy prose when it is presented with skill, tasteful restraint and artistry. Of this, Nietzsche was the master. In your work however, I detect a writer looking to impress upon his audience, qualities he sees in himself. The run on sentences are indicative of a lack of focus rather than style (we saw the prozak reviews featuring the same only they were rich in descriptive content). The final criticism was levied at the observation that this review appears to be written by the artist himself rather than by an impartial reviewer. I write this as a concerned but longtime reader. While I might find Kanye West’s the college drop out or Danny Brown’s old to hit higher artistic benchmarks than Sammath the godless arrogance, I value the focus on quality music espoused by the site. It is on that agreement of values which I base my criticism and disenchantment of this review.

        1. Rosenberg says:

          So, I gather you don’t really disagree with any of the views presented, you only disagree with the way they are presented?

          I am not trying to show off that I read this or that. But giving clues so that those who know about it or are willing to go and read about it may have a much more clear picture of what is in the music. Instead of my starting a lecture.

          What are perceived as run-on sentences is more a matter of a modern view of how things should be said. I just indulged myself in the sort of descriptions that come more easily to myself when describing feelings. I don’t want to just say “oh, this is so happy”. I think painting a picture helps, if you are willing to try and see what is meant by that picture.

          ” The final criticism was levied at the observation that this review appears to be written by the artist himself rather than by an impartial reviewer.”

          No, I do not belong to any of the bands reviewed on this website.
          Secondly, no reviewer is completely impartial, unless it is based solely on hard Schenkerian analysis or something of the sort where you just list 100% objective properties of the music. No review does this in Metal, not even the Nadia review on this website. They’re all opinions. Some more toned down, some more intense. I just don’t pretend I dont have intense feelings regarding this album.
          What you saw here, is an attempt to express my feelings regarding the album in the middle of factual statements, which to some might seem undesirable and confusing.
          I sincerely find a lot in this band’s music, and this is supported by objective observations about the music.

          If you have any qualms about SPECIFIC passages then say so. There is no bullshit here.

          ” I enjoy prose when it is presented with skill, tasteful restraint and artistry.”

          You are right, I am no writer. I am merely trying to convey facts and feelings beside each other in an integral way. Maybe I’ve been reading too much 19th century music critique, written in the 19th century and so do not attempt to restrain my expression of feelings. I think these have a place in a review.

          1. Lord Mosher says:

            Hey Rosenberg, you don’t need to justify or explain your style. Least to somebody that doesn’t like it. I think it is great, it’s fun and it’s useful to get a clear picture of the music. That’s what matters; I figure the review is not about you or the reader or the band but about a purposeful description of the music. Whether I like your writing style or not, is irrelevant to the content written (thus an inflammatory commentary on my dislike for the style is utterly unnecessary).
            .
            People that believe that everything is about themselves are called man-children. Why bother? I hope you carry on with your style because its descriptively precise and thus helpful and useful.

            1. I agree wholeheartedly with this comment.

          2. Black Commentator says:

            “So, I gather you don’t really disagree with any of the views presented, you only disagree with the way they are presented?”

            It’s difficult to disagree with views of an album that isn’t available for preview or in full online.

            “I am not trying to show off that I read this or that. But giving clues so that those who know about it or are willing to go and read about it may have a much more clear picture of what is in the music. Instead of my starting a lecture.”

            Incorporating the insights of others or the content you refer to into your work is preferable to vague illusions. It’s typical of those who have a cursory or introductory – maybe passing – knowledge to engage in the latter. You’re doing a disserve to the reader if they have to seek out external work just to get the picture you’re trying to communicate.

            “What are perceived as run-on sentences is more a matter of a modern view of how things should be said. I just indulged myself in the sort of descriptions that come more easily to myself when describing feelings. I don’t want to just say “oh, this is so happy”. I think painting a picture helps, if you are willing to try and see what is meant by that picture.”

            Multiple independent clauses:

            “ust like the compositions of the young Sebastian Bach shortly before and after his visiting Dietrich Buxtehude in Lübeck betrayed the unmistakable mark of the old master in form and method but never bowed down to him so that the pieces were, nevertheless, stamped with the young genius’ name, so does the band manages yet again to sound like itself independently or in spite of its distinguishable inspirations.”

            It’s not a false perception, it’s an observation of reality.

            “No, I do not belong to any of the bands reviewed on this website.
            Secondly, no reviewer is completely impartial, unless it is based solely on hard Schenkerian analysis or something of the sort where you just list 100% objective properties of the music. No review does this in Metal, not even the Nadia review on this website. They’re all opinions. Some more toned down, some more intense. I just don’t pretend I dont have intense feelings regarding this album.”

            It’s definitely possible to describe the objective and even subjective qualities of the music as experienced viscerally without falling into overtly proselytizing.

            1. Black Commentator says:

              Allusions* not illusion.

            2. Rosenberg says:

              “It’s definitely possible to describe the objective and even subjective qualities of the music as experienced viscerally without falling into overtly proselytizing.”

              I described objective and subjective qualities. The style in which I present them is just the most comfortable way for me.

              “You’re doing a disserve to the reader if they have to seek out external work just to get the picture you’re trying to communicate.”

              I am not doing a disservice by addressing an audience and expecting them to have a certain knowledge or the willingness to seek it. The contrary would be to make the “review” several pages long with explanations of EVERY single one of the references. The references are to much bigger concepts which complement this review.

              If you want dumbed down writing please subscribe to Terrorizer. I am not going TO the reader. I am presenting ideas and letting the reader seek it. The music of this band is the same.

              1. Black Commentator says:

                Have you considered your likeness to Heidegger? Hiding the fact that you don’t have a lot to say in murky prose and a lot of it?

    3. fenrir says:

      It looks like you think that someone who can read into technicalities of the music from outside is so above your own technical capacity that you prefer to attack and accuse someone of being a “party member” involved in the construction of the album.

      Or, explain yourself, with specific examples.

      Also, please provide examples o what is “unnecessary showmanship”. I see useful pointers to larger concepts.

      1. trystero says:

        Wait a minute… didnt you write this review? I am confused.

        1. fenrir says:

          I am responding to Black Commentator.
          Any other questions?

  5. Aaron Lynn says:

    Some constructive criticism: Avoid the track-by-track style.

  6. Dualist says:

    In what way does “reviewer [have] an intimate and personal relationship with the music distinctly different from one had by an independent observer”? Does a description of music making reference to music theory seem such a lofty thing to you that it automatically invites accusations of pretentiousness?

    Over the past couple of years the quality of the reviews on this site has steadily decreased. Most reviews now just make vague references to the riffs ‘just not fitting together’ or not ‘telling a story’ and are in fact more pretentious than this one, as they seem to allude to knowledge of music theory that seems lacking in those reviewers. They certainly lack the authority the old DLA reviews had, as well as lacking the DLA’s always original prose.

    But if you read this reviewer’s last article on Atomic Aggressor where he contrasts the deficiencies of that album with the compositional merits of Chapel of Ghouls he shows a level of understanding of music theory well above that normally found in the more recent reviews on the modern DMU. Check it out if you haven’t already. Is this not how classical critics review their material, or at least understand their material?

    No, there needs to be more reviews like this one on this site, actually describing the actual music (though not all necessarily track-by-track) instead of just waffling that the ‘riff order doesn’t make sense’ when you really just object to the band because they don’t conform to old-school aesthetics.

    1. Black Commentator says:

      “Does a description of music making reference to music theory seem such a lofty thing to you that it automatically invites accusations of pretentiousness”

      In what possible way could “Deep personal relationship with the music” have any tangible relationship to a description of the objective qualities of the music via training in musical theory?

      1. fenrir says:

        If you don’t know the answer to that I really suggest you get the background in Music Theory beyond basic harmony and into phrase building and more, Theory of Form of the Common Practice Period, and philosophy of art (and music, specifically) from the ancient Greeks, through the magical view of the Renaissance to the 19th century Germans.

        After you do that, then you and us can have a real conversation. As it is, the level is too unequal and that is why you keep making demands about things that are obvious to the rest of us.

        1. Black Commentator says:

          It was a rhetorical question you aspie.

          1. Gentlemen,

            We’ve gone circular here and nothing is going to come of this. May I direct you both to the speed metal topic, which is in need of each of your insight and energies?

            A. Hessian

  7. ODB says:

    David Rosenberg is the best new metal writer I have read. His views are unique, technically nuanced, and expressed with taste and flair. You can choose to be overwhelmed with his references and call him pretentious, or you can investigate them further and add to your knowledge of the world. The second option is better all around. Keep going!

  8. degtyarow says:

    Personally, I think this is a good review. It’s obvious that the writer has a solid bit of technical knowledge, which sadly is a rare commodity these days among music critics.

    I don’t mind at all when the writer has a personal connection of sorts to the band. There’s nothing wrong with a passionate, even biased review, as it often provides a more profound understanding of the music and its appeal. Not saying this review is biased, by the way, as it relies largely on objective arguments that in turn are based on musical theory. I actually wouldn’t mind some more of the passion flowing out, like it did in the last sentence.

    As for some constructive criticism, this review could use some tighter editing. There are a few typos that could easily be weeded out with a spellcheck, and the point brought up earlier about the sentences lacking some structural coherence is not a total lie.

    There, my review of the review. Very fucking meta. Cóndor rules, so not much was to be added in that regard.

  9. fenrir says:

    Unfortunately, the comments section has turned into a debate about the REVIEW, when it should be about CONDOR.

    To Black Commentator and anyone else still paying attention, what did you like about Nadia, what would you expect the band to improve in and what do you expect (now) from the second album?

  10. SIMP says:

    A preview of the title track from Duin is available here (fast-forward to the 10:00 mark): http://thesundayalternativeblog.blogspot.se/2014/12/the-sunday-alternative-podcast-28.html

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