It’s been almost a month since my last review (Arcane Saints – In The Shade of the Juniper) and I have been wanting to write something, but I just wasn’t struck with any inspiration, I guess. You see, Victim of Sound really is just a place for me to satisfy my writing bug. I don’t have an editor or team telling me to go and cover this and that. It’s all up to me. I choose when I write, and what I write. It’s great. And of course, I hope whatever readers I do have enjoy reading it all as much as I enjoy writing it. Anyway, I digress, I was looking through the promos I was sent and I stumbled upon The Great Discord’s Duende. I had never heard of this Swedish band before, but for some reason I was compelled to listen and as soon as the opening track “The Aging Man” began, I knew I had found that inspiration I was looking for.
Some bands tend to play it safe with their debut album. They try to create something new and different, but also try not to push too many boundaries to win over an audience, industry folk etc. Not every band does this, and The Great Discord are one such band who is just here to create the music they want, knowing that they’ll eventually reach the right people. If there is a boundary that can be pushed, you’ll bet that The Great Discord will push it as far as it will go.
Vocalist Fia Kempe stated that they “did not want to make an album you could have on in the background. It’s supposed to jump out and grab you, hold you down and make you consume a new piece of it every time.” And that is exactly what Duende does. Musically the album mixes a variety of metal styles that ensures you get something new not just track to track, but within each song you will find something new and exciting with every listen. Lyrically, the album covers a range of themes. From the relatable worries of growing old and impending death (The Aging Man) and battles with depression (Woes, Ephemeral); to stories of a psychopath suffering from dissociative identity disorder (A Discordant Call) and “Selfaeta” which shares the tale of the death of a hermit cannibal.
Duende deals in both the extreme and the mundane, and in doing so allows the listener to relate to the content, but also be swept away by stories far removed from their own little worlds. While The Great Discord are obviously trying to make the listener feel something, and push them out of their comfort zone, making you awkward with songs about necrophiliacs, cannibalism, murderers; they do not ram disturbing content down your throat, with no signs of easing off, or shock you with a relentlessly heavy album. Just as life flows from one thing to the next, often unexpectedly, as does Duendo. “Woes” will bring you down to the level of depression expressed within the track with the softer, and more haunting vocals and instrumentation; while “A Discordant Call” uses a cacophonous arrangement of guitars, drums, bass, and keyboard to really make you uncomfortable as Kempe’s vocals take on a harrowing feel.
Perhaps the biggest shock on the album comes from “Selfaeta”, which opens with an almost peaceful, in a horror movie creepy kind of way, piano piece, paving the way for pure death metal complete with growls courtesy of Kempe’s brother Erik of Prowess. While the album uses a variety of metal styles, the growls sort of came out of nowhere, once again proving that The Great Discord can shock you even with things we hear on a day to day basis. And as the album is about to come to a close, after you’ve been taken on a tour of the most disturbing aspects of humanity, the second last track “Illuminate” lifts you up with an almost pop-like melody. Very few bands can take you through the dregs of society, and then effortlessly make you smile and almost forget all you heard before.
Duende is unique, exciting, and puts you at that perfect level of unease where you want to go through it all again when album closer “Ephemeral” finishes. The album is balanced in its content of extremes and mundane and never pushes you to the point of wanting to give up. On the contrary, it just makes you want to listen again and again. The nature of the band, the music, and the on-stage theatrics (that I have only read about) remind me of The Red Paintings, and it is among bands such as these that I feel the future of music lies.