It’s always great to get a record from a band that is difficult to categorize neatly in a particular subgenre. It keeps you on the edge of your seat, wondering what the next movement in each song will song. Sangreal, the latest release from Cóndor, for instance, could be considered death/doom, melodic death metal, and even gothic metal, all at the same time. You could even argue that there are elements of atmospheric black metal, as some sections get speedy and dark enough to fit the bill.
Whether it’s a slow, crushing section, melodic singing over a fast guitar riff, or folk-infused acoustic guitar picking, Sangreal has one common thread, and that is a seriously gloomy, melancholic atmosphere. The slow sections remind me of Cemetary, or early My Dying Bride, with crunchy, but melodic guitar riffs that have a mournful, dirge-like quality. The vocals are guttural and demonic, yet they still manage to match the utter despair that the music creates, particularly on tracks like “Se Extienden Las Sombras” and “El árbol de la muerte.” The second of the two songs in particular has several time-changes, with fast, brutal death metal moments that give way to eerie, almost ponderous sounding death/doom.
There’s a lot to like on Sangreal, and Cóndor show a lot of promise, considering they’ve only been a band for roughly three years. There are a couple of rough edges, particularly some of the transitions on opening track/title track, “Sangreal,” with the clean vocals sounding a little out of place, and a couple of slightly out of tune notes here and there. The mixing and mastering of the record as a whole is fairly raw, and the guitars come out a little canned at times, but overall, the raw production actually gives Sangreal a unique atmosphere, reminiscent of early black metal. Ultimately, this is a pretty great record, with some crushingly heavy and genuinely gloomy tones throughout, and leaves me wanting more.