Cóndor – Sangreal (2016)


Condor again present a wholesale blending of death metal, classical guitar, folk, and progressive rock influences into epic heavy metal songs rather than pretending instrumental masturbation is intelligent like Dream Theater or that alternative rock with power chord chugging and a couple angular or dissonant riffs is metal like Bolzer. On Sangreal attempt to convey the romanticism behind the Arthurian legend, particularly the grail cycle concerning Percival or Galahad restoring fruit and flower to the desolate Waste Land rendered infertile by the sins of the maimed and emasculated Fisher King.

Sangreal‘s main problem, the same as Ride the Lightning, Left Hand Path and Storm of the Light’s Bane, is with the actual structure of the album itself. Sangreal is heavily top weighted; the epic title and first track is the best one. “Sangreal” furthermore is the only track that manages to convey the feeling of an epic, cyclical nature of a medieval romance that arose from primeval, pagan myth. None of the other songs on Sangreal convey the mythic atmosphere and sacred connection to the land in the Grail myth illustrated in Weston’s From Ritual to Romance.

Unlike “Left Hand Path”, “Sangreal” is exhausting; listening to the rest of the album actually is a slog through a wasteland and how deep one sinks into the mud says more about how many songwriting sins you can put up with before getting bored or disillusioned than how intriguing the rest of the music is. Condor return to the approach of Nadia, stuffing Sangreal‘s otherwise effective heavy metal with compositionally incongruent, irritatingly offkey, and pointless bluesy choruses, solos, bridges, and interludes. These problems were rectified on the band’s superior second album, Duin, but most disappointingly return here. Furthermore, many of the riffs give prior fans the feeling the band has begun to repeat itself.

Condor lacks the metallic virtue that Dismember termed “the overwhelming power” on “Override the Overture“. Never on Sangreal do Condor even threaten to sonically manifest their spiritualist romantic tension into violent catharsis; the band expresses zero desire to “see the Pope on the end of a rope” and trample and mangle their enemies into giblets and dust. A boring, staid record invoking the Arthurian legend without providing any hope of Arthur shoving the sword of power through his unfilial son’s throat is a mistake. Perhaps Sangreal could have worked as a 45 rpm EP but as an LP, instead of flashbacks to the gritty bombast of Boorman’s Excalibur, Condor project Bresson’s disaffected Lancelot du Lac. Listening to the entirety of Sangreal is like listening to flies pick through the remains of your lunch in the trashcan for an hour.


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49 thoughts on “Cóndor – Sangreal (2016)”

  1. Bark says:

    Consider Bresson as austere and poetic, Striving for Bresson would be more of an acomplishment than overblown boorish Boorman. Cóndor as a journey through mud and blood pulling through…less is more yada-yada… Where’s Rosales anyway?

    1. Lancelot du Lac has catharsis and resolution Condor lacks. Rosales is praising nu-Abigor and backtracking on mediocre releases at his own blog.

  2. Bark says:

    I just dont think the Bresson comparison is sound, it would be something more controlled and organized than Cóndor, but seemingly simple, maybe darkthrone? you critique the composition yourself. Cóndor is more sprawling,messy.

    1. I was going to say Transilvanian Hunger. Condor are kinda fruity but Sangreal is slog like Lancelot du Lac.

  3. ffs says:

    Funny, I consider Duin to be their lesser album from a transcendent point of view.Though it is easier for mundane and pedestrian minds because of it is more obviously”metal”. Cheers, pedestrians and mundanes!

    1. Lance Refridgianno says:

      > a transcendent point of view.

      What does this mean to you?

      > it is easier for mundane and pedestrian minds because of it is more obviously”metal”

      In other words, music that is actually metal is not good. Why are you here?

      1. I haven’t heard Condor, but he said that it was more obviously metal. Not that it was more metal.

        1. Lance Refridgianno says:

          Yeah thank you Sven I can read.

          1. Then what is this nonsense?

            “In other words, music that is actually metal is not good. Why are you here?”

            1. Lance Refridgianno says:

              A statement followed by a question.

              1. “In other words, music that is actually metal is not good.”

                If it was true that you “can read”, you would not interpret his words in this way.

                1. C.M. says:

                  He just said he could read, not that he understood what he was reading. Quit being so argumentative.

                  1. Vance Refridgianno says:

                    He can’t help himself because arguing is part of “his nature” and there is nothing he should do over what he feels like doing at the moment.

                    1. strawberry milk stout black IPAs with grapefruit flavored hops says:

                      And what are you doing? fucking autistic fucks.

                    2. Gil Grimore says:

                      What am I doing? I’m thinking about a comment name which perfectly encapsulates my disgust with craft beer, the fact that it has flavor and is somewhat popular lately because I am a nihilist who must be iconoclastic at all times.

                    3. It is doubtful that a nihilist would give half a shit about iconoclasm. In fact, he or she might outright scorn it as an irrelevant pretender to reality that relies on symbolic perception of truth.

                      Plus sodomy.

                    4. Hahahahahahahahaha, that man 2 man alliance is just great.
                      I’m laughing as I type.

                      I’m not sure whether it’s serious or joking, but I think that it’s serious.
                      It’s just very dramatic about what it’s saying.

        2. Rainer Weikusat says:

          The original statement was:

          I consider Duin to be their lesser album […] it is easier for mundane and pedestrian minds because it is more obviously”metal”.

          Stating that something is more obvious than obvious is the same as calling it more liquid than liquid: This can be employed as stylistic device but literally, the ‘more’ is just redundant. Cutting out the insult as well, this leads

          I consider Duin to be their lesser album because it is more obviously metal.

          IOW, the fact that something is recognizably metal is regarded as mark of negative quality.

          1. He said that it is a lesser album, but it is easier to appreciate because it’s more obvious that it’s metal.
            Not as good, but easier to appreciate, is what he judged it as.
            He never said, or implied, that it’s a lesser album because it’s more obviously metal, and certianly not because it is metal.

            1. Rainer Weikusat says:

              As I already wrote (or tried to write and accidentally didn’t drop from the example) “more obvious” is the same kind of nonsensical word combination as “more optimal”: Something is either obvious or not obvious. It can’t be more obvious (or less obvious, for that matter). Which leaves something like “The lesser album is easier for morons because it’s obviously metal” (there’s also a verb missing here — you kindly supplanted one, I didn’t), or, to present this as a real syllogism:

              1. Morons like metal.
              2. The lesser album is metal.
              Ergo: Morons would like it.

              Dropping the obvious as well seems justified to me because something that’s “not obviously metal” is “obviously not metal”, at least in absence of a well-known or explicitly presented explanation how something one usually wouldn’t regard as metal can be considered metal nevertheless. But this starts to get into the territory of “red is the new green” and similar nonsense statements.

              1. “more obvious” is the same kind of nonsensical word combination as “more optimal”

                A thing can be closer to being obvious, or farther away from being obvious.
                The closer toward obvious a thing is, the easier it is to understand or see.
                Listen to the idea that he is trying to convey, rather than nitpicking his use of language.

                Wittgenstein should be mandatory in public education.

                1. Consider this example:

                  Album X and Y are both metal.

                  Album X is metal, and it is easy to see that it is metal (this is what he meant by “obvious”)
                  Album Y is metal, but it’s not apparent that it is.

                  People who are both morons and metalheads will like album X more than they will like album Y, even if album Y happens to be better.

                  This is what he tried to convey.

                  1. Rainer Weikusat says:

                    That’s how you’ve chosen to interpret this statement even despite its semantic deficits (such as Tertiam datur! for non-quantifiable[term?] qualifiers). However, after listening to almost all of this track, I vote for “obviously not metal”. I consider this pretty typical “prog rock”: A random collection of less-than-exciting mannerisms borrowed from ‘real’ rock (eg, the blues-coloured first solo or the ‘straight from the book’ Quicksilver Messenger Service climax in the second and a lot of more fleeting others), lengthy instrumental noodling, pseudo-medievalisms and a few hard rock/ early heavy metal riffs tacked on for good measure, the purpose of this disparate collage being to hide the mediocrity of all of its components. Hence, I prefer the other interpretation of the statement.

                    1. He may be suggesting that it is metal in spirit. Metal/prog hybrids are hard because the metal sound takes up so much of the spectrum that working in multiple instrumental layers is difficult, which means pretty much the only option would be to write 15-minute songs in the style of Onward to Golgotha with accents and lead rhythm guitar like Det Som Engang Var, and pulling that off at full intensity would be difficult not to mention defeat the purpose of progressive rock (wandering emotional journeys) and metal (buildup to a point of intense, motivational realization). But if someone wants to write more epic songs about occult mythological warfare and sodomy, we should encourage them, as in life there is usually “a way” to carry on.

                    2. If we are to look at examples for progressive rock style formats for metal, there are a few options:

                      “The Way” (Therion)

                      “Orion” (Metallica)

                      “Det Som Engang Var” (Burzum)

                      “Hidden Under Scars” (Seance)

                      “Into The Pentagram” (Samael)

                      “Cosmic Sea” (HIV Awareness)

                      “A National Acrobat” (Black Sabbath)

                      “Triumph of Death” (Hellhammer)

                      “Deliverance of Horrific Prophecies” (Incantation)

                      The work of Atheist on Unquestionable Presence and Pestilence on Spheres might also come into play.

  4. Facelessones says:

    The diversification here is superfluous, this band is more boring than “Skepticism – Alloy”.

    1. Dave the Faggot Grohl says:

      I’m going to take a wild guess here and say you love war metal.

  5. OliveFox says:

    Well, it is at least less boring than Monmouth. Much less cheeky than Chretien de Troy. Nowhere near as punctual as Tennyson. But, continuing with the Arthurian literature bit, to me it sounds like someone very seriously explaining La Morte D’Arthur, but half way through, you realize they only just read it the day before.

    I never read Weston, but I find Bresson very “removed” from the material, as you mentioned. I just always like John Boorman, so, that isn’t really fair no matter how you slice.

    Condor is full of the right intentions and potential. But they gotta get their shit together if I am gonna buy the next one. I threw them some sheckles for Duin and Nadia even though they are “free” on Bandcamp, and I wasn’t heartened by the music so much as the very clear struggle to make something profound and worthwhile. Nothing sadder than seeing a band so intentional and genuine eventually fail.

    I keep listening to Sangreal, waiting for the “click” moment. Maybe it will happen, hope it does.

    I am absolutely routing for this band. But, hope and encouragement cannot force quality into my ears.

    1. Vance Refridgianno says:

      Maybe you haven’t had enough Sangria(l) to enjoy this?

      (The record improves substantially if you envision it being played by a tejano band standing in a circle around a campfire of burning south American currency and Teddy bears stuffed with heroin.)

  6. Cunt Door says:

    Shame you lot aren’t keen on the new album, but thanks for the taking the time to cover it anyways.

    Quick observation though, the album’s main theme is Carolingian, not Arthurian, and it’s only connection to Arthurian legend is the symbol of the Grail, which in this instance we took from the world of Provenzal crusaders and troubadours, who were another one of the album’s sourcers of symbolism, not Arthurian legend.


    1. I blew my head off like Per Ohlin says:

      First impressions were ok.
      Felt like the weak bits of Nadia thrown into the Duin template.

    2. Degtyarov says:

      Now, about those bluesy solos…

      1. Memoncy - Joined in Dankness says:

        Maybe I’m not remembering correctly, but the solos on this record are closer to a more compositionally deft Yngwie than they are to the bluesy stuff on Nadia.

    3. OliveFox says:

      Hey, you got my money already. I don’t feel it wasted either. Daniel is right, the title track is quite breathtaking at parts. A winner through and through, and one I will keep in my playlists for a long time.

      Probably seems like faint praise. But, hopefully, it is encouraging.

    4. A Concerned Listener says:

      Will you please use an acceptable guitar tone for your next album? It’s been three albums now and you havent gotten into your head that this doesnt *sound* good on any level.

  7. Logogenesis says:

    I like the original take on the cover art. It’s quite brilliant in its oversaturated flaws.

  8. Memoncy - Joined in Dankness says:

    “Violent catharsis” isn’t the main thrust of this album though (and never really was on their previous records either). The ebb and flow between graceful and heroic melodies, intrepid troubadour-esque jaunts, and somber dirge sections place this band closer in approach (very roughly) to something like Septic Flesh’s first few records than Like An Everflowing Stream. Sangreal is contemplative, LAEFS is brash power.

    Though Daniel is right about the album being top-heavy, it is not to the degree he describes. I encourage everyone to give this album a chance before writing it off. It is Condor’s best yet.

    1. C.M. says:

      I see where you’re coming from but I also can’t discount Daniel’s criticism. Probably this album must be appreciated when in a mindstate different from what metal listeners are usually in when listening to metal. I found that to be the case with Nadia, so it isn’t such a surprise that this one is a bit removed from both Nadia and Duin’s modes of story-crafting.

  9. Can you survive the blitzkrieg says:

    “Check this album out its good, oh wait now it’s not”

  10. I enjoyed listening to this. I see it as less prog rock than an attempt to meld music with narrative. For this reason, songs are less centralized than black metal and more thematic than prog rock.

      1. Rainer Weikusat says:

        Random datapoint related to this concept of an Indo-European culture: There’s a very charming designation for “people of European descent who are neither English nor Irish nor Welsh nor Scottish” in the UK, namely “other whites”. I don’t know if the Indians, especially, the Hindus, invented that, but they’re surely happy with it.

      2. I came for the music review.
        I stayed for the history and philosophy.

    1. The album has good material; it’s just not arranged very well as a whole and getting to the end becomes a chore. Misguided interludes, bridges, and solos compound this.

    2. Rainer Weikusat says:

      I wouldn’t use the martialic metaphors of the article as I reject the post-09/11 re-militarization of everything but this is dead. A complicated construction composed of simple parts is used in an attempt to hide this.

    3. Johan P says:

      Good distinction.

      I’ve only heard the title track but that sounded good enough to my ears. Nothing beats Nadia though!

  11. Anthony says:

    This is my first time listening to the band for more than five minutes, and I have to say this album sounds pretty good to me. Long-winded perhaps, and a bit unsteady with integration of riffs and drums at some points, but hearing the melodies develop keeps me interested. They actually remind me a bit of Into Oblivion, if anyone remembers them.

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