Cóndor - Duin 01If there’s anything that can be gleaned about the giant web that is the world of heavy metal, it’s that you can always draw influence from outside of the genre’s comfort zone to provide a fresh flavor to the oftentimes stagnant scene. Whether it’s pulling from other sounds beyond metal, bringing in a new philosophical or religious slant, or simply injecting your culture into your sound, it’s pretty much guaranteed that, good or bad, you will be remembered. Cóndor are a product of Bogotá, Colombia, both in its rich ancestry, and its currently ridiculously high crime rate, terrorism, and poverty. Recalling how impressed Happy Metal Guy was with their Nadia release, I wanted to give their newest, Duin, a spin and see what all the fuss is about.

Now, normally I don’t give huge details about instrumental openers, as I just want to dive into the album as a whole. In this case, “Río Frío” gets a pass, as it has some really beautiful and impressive guitar playing rich with Cóndor‘s heritage.  Both Francisco Fernández López and vocalist Antonio Espinosa Holguin show off and impress early, creating melodies that are both historical and somber.

And I mention the intro only because, going forward, it devolves into some rather rudimentary doom/death metal. Follow-up “El Lamento de Penélope” reminds me of Skydancer-era Dark Tranquillity, without the twin guitar melodies, but with sloppier drumming. “Condordäle,” despite having a couple of incredibly emotive moments, suffers the same mistake new bands always make: painfully long songs (in this case, over the ten-minute mark) with no flow or memorability. And it’s a damn shame, because when the band does inject their cultural upbringing into their music, such as on “Río Frío” and fellow instrumental “Adagio,” and during solos, especially on “Coeur-de-lion,” they can be quite captivating.

Cóndor - Duin 02The production, although dynamic, does them no favors whatsoever. The guitars are super trebly, lacking heft and thickness. The bass lacks any major punch, and the drums are too high up in the mix. And those cymbals are too damn bright and sometimes painful. But even with a better production, Duin is the sound of a young band who still doesn’t know how to make things flow better properly, and they need to learn their craft if they want to make a significant impact outside of their country.

There is little worse than a promising band saying, “hey, look what I can do!” and then boring the listener to tears. Cóndor definitely have the skill to impress and stand out. Now they need to learn how to hold my attention, and they haven’t with Duin. Maybe next time.

Rating: 2.0/5.0
DR: 11 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Gomorrah Records
Website: CóndorFacebook
Release Date: Out Worldwide: 01.27.2015

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  • Monsterth Goatom

    So many long metal songs start out good but then become something akin to a runaway train that no one can figure out how to stop. Then you have something like Gluteus Munchius’ “Degenerate” with its 20 short, sharp shocks. Very few it seems can pull off something as masterful as Opeth’s “Moon Above, Sun Below”.

    If one traced back this fascination with long songs, I wonder where it would take you. I don’t think the advent of CDs, with the extra space they offer, is entirely to blame, since bands have been recording such epics long before discs came on the scene. Maybe it’s the influence of bands like the Grateful Dead (though GD tended to record albums with relatively normal song lengths and only play extended versions of songs in concert).

    The influence of Jazz innovators like Miles Davis or Pharoah Sanders, who tended to record 20+ minute epics in their later years?

    I can understand that some bands want to take the listener on a “journey”, especially on concept albums, but such efforts can be risky gambles.

    • hubcapiv

      I think more than anything it is the flattening of the music business. On the whole, it’s been a good thing for listeners – fewer barriers between a band and its audience and so much more music to listen to.

      But one drawback is that there are fewer people to say, “This 20 minute song is real boring and we’re not releasing this.” Or, “There’s 80 minutes of music here, but half of it is lame. We’re going to release the 40 good minutes and you can keep working on the rest.”

      It’s good to cut out the middleman. But some of those middlemen knew what they were talking about.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        Totally agree. Regarding the first point, I love that I can download a band’s album from Bandcamp, and then send the band a note telling them how much I like their work. More often than not, they write back. I cherish that kind of connection, and I think the bands likely do as well — nice to know you created something that moves others.

        I’m all for the DIY ethos. Back in the eighties, a lot of young and hungry hardcore bands probalbly wouldn’t have been able to release the work they did if they hadn’t done it themselves. But, yes, a middleman does not equal evil for the reasons you stated.

        It’s kind of like the situation with blogs. Since there’s generally only a loose kind of self-editing, people can sometimes ramble on in all directions. The person who said “the internet needs an editor” was right.

        I do like long songs, but they should have some kind of structure as Grymm says, and not be just minute after minute of directionless noodling.

      • Man, have I got a forthcoming “Angry Metal Guy Speaks” for you!

    • Grymm

      I appreciate the risk taken with long songs, but for every Opeth, Iron Maiden, or Dream Theater opus, you have about 30 bands who’ll lose you about two minutes into a long song.

      The destination can be amazing, but the journey has to flow and be coherent.

      • tomasjacobi

        I think it’s not fair to bash còndor for the long songs thing. They have one song running 11 minutes and 2 around the 7-minute mark; the rest are shorter. The total playing time is only 47 minutes which also is not too long for an album. That you find the songs boring is of course your rightful opinion, even though I don’t agree.
        Oh and Rio Frío is Czech composer Smetana’s “Vltava” about the Moldau river in his country.

        • Monsterth Goatom

          Not that it really matters, but “Moldau” is the German name for Vltava.

          • tomasjacobi

            I think it’s the English name as well. Or what do you suggest the English name of the river is?

  • It’s not Columbian, it’s Colombian, my friends! I’m trying to like this

  • Andy_0

    Meta question: What’s the end goal of posting unfavorable reviews? AMG seem to be posting more of them recently and I just don’t understand the point.

    99.99% of metalheads wouldn’t have ever stumbled across this independent release so why spend the time and effort lambasting it? Wouldn’t you rather be promoting music that you enjoy and you think others should be listening to as well?

    • So, you want AMG to only post reviews of albums we love? That kinda defeats the purpose of a metal review blog, doesn’t it?

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      For me thats not as interesting as what happens here on AMG. Even though this review isn’t particularly flattering, it does increase the profile of the band. There was enough in the review to get me curious and head over to bandcamp and check it out. At $3 Im going to pick up a digital copy.

    • The logic kind of goes like this: Only reviewing that which is good doesn’t give a fair representation of one’s taste and makes me actually a less reliable reviewer. If you know that I hate Periphery and I also can something else that is similar and you hate those things, too, then you know not to buy them. Also you can see disagreements: we might both love Maiden, but I hate Judas Priest, that means when I compare a band to Judas Priest and go “Blech!” you might very well know you’ll like it. The idea is to give fair reviews so that a person who reads it knows they’ll like it _even if I don’t_. Furthemore, we get a lot of promo and people want us to review it, so we figure that you get stuck with what you take. If you take something, you review it, and if it’s bad, then you say it’s bad.

      I personally don’t like review sites that never give negative reviews. I like reading negative opinions and I dislike the kind of “publication bias” that happens. Furthemore, I think it’s helpful to know a person’s opinion on a range of things, and I find that our negative reviews not only encourage people to listen and disagree, but have drawn a lot of people to the site over the years who have then stayed DESPITE disagreement. I think it’s what makes this site cool.

      • Monsterth Goatom

        This is exactly why I come here. I’ve deleted most of my bookmarks to other metal review sites, since, imo, AMG has the most experienced and honest reviewers and the most well-written and thoughtful reviews. Keep doin’ what you’re doin’, please! Do you guys take donations? I’d gladly become a monthly subscriber to ensure AMG never fades away.

      • Wilhelm

        What I really hate are those sites that give every other album they review a 10 and never mention any flaws. It’s not a perfect (metal) world.

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    I kinda like this after a first listen my overall feeling is that it’s closer to ‘good’, with excellent artwork. They’ve definitely bolted outta the gates for the indecipherable logo award for 2015

    Despite the obvious weaker moments there is some nice stuff on here. Interestingly for the first verse of Condordäle they’ve used some poetry from an “anonymous Spanish poet of the XVth century”. The lyrics generally, as translated into english seem esoteric and weighty. A hazy view back to the Spanish colonisation of Columbia…I’ve always been a sucker for a good concept or thematic album.
    Easily worth the $3 they’re asking over at band camp!
    I’ll definitely be interested to see what these guys do next.

  • tomasjacobi

    Good tip is to pay attention to the release date ;-)
    It released today 27/1, so it’s up on their Bandcamp page now.

  • Actually, I think this is pretty good. I think in Swedish I would declare it “helt okej!” I think it sounds a bit “amateurish” in its production values at times—like the screams in “Coer-de-lion” sounds way out of place given the rest of the production—but I don’t find the songs to be poorly constructed or anything. In fact, I think there are some pretty cool things going on here.

  • Wilhelm

    I’m listening to this album and it’s pretty amazing. Great quality doom/death. I kinda admire the production and its DR11; the guitars actually have a unique tone and it reminds me of a demo that would have come out in ’93/’94. At the same time, it could be better produced – Not everyone could love something this murky.

    • I think the “one take production” trend is kind of annoying, honestly. Once upon a time bands did it live, but then again, once upon a time they also were good musicians…

  • Finally got to hear this, pretty good headbanging parts. I think the production is weird but has some charm.