An interview with a member of The Great Discord revealed the band half-heartedly refers to their style as 'progressive death pop.' It is a fitting label, despite conjuring an innate sense of disharmony and appearing as appealing as bed sheets prepackaged with bed bugs. I'm inclined to call "Duende" a progressive metal album that allows other influences to trickle in-sometimes intricately, sometimes with the grace of spilling hot coffee. The Great Discord's work is not my cup of tea, although I will say they are an interesting bunch with a few special tricks up their sleeves. I guess "Duende" has an inconsistency complex, jumping from hot to cold, as though the tendency to explore some intriguing creative avenue leads to The Great Discord falling asleep at the wheel to recharge its batteries.
The base of the album reflects the discrepancy of quality between tracks, as its style is a bit eccentric. Firmly a progressive metal piece at heart, it implements outside influences from various genres that range from enticing death metal licks to atrocious Meshuggah-esque djent ghastliness. This breadth of flavors is integrated smoothly into the prog-styled riff attack, resulting in an introspective, speckled platter of progressive-ish metal stuff. The Great Discord conducts its strongest current of energy through the vocals, which are extraordinary. Powerful, emotive, poignant adaption to various surroundings, the ability to cover the map of vocal latitude-these traits are almost mandatory for a singer in the progressive metal sphere, and she nails them all in dazzling fashion. Obviously, this brand of music requires technical ability and the appropriate instrumental talent to excel; "Duende" doesn't falter in this regard.
My issues stem from The Great Discord's wonky songwriting, particularly the variance of quality between tracks, not within tracks. By this I'm referring to The Great Discord's flip-a-coin chance of hitting a homerun or plainly striking out as the ball zooms right down the middle while their eyes follow its trajectory, able to conceptualize just what to do but not registering the proper movement until it's too late. "The Aging Man," for instance, is absolutely phenomenal and catchy, its meaningful chorus and abstract bridges linking together the masterpiece of which this progressive machine is capable. " Deus Ex Homine," the following track, has no such tension; it just clocks in and clocks out. The harsh vocals and blast beats of "Selfζta" are integrated excellently into the band's forward-thinking personality. "Illuminate," though, is a lame pop rock song, and so on and so forth.
Most of "Duende" can be lined up and shot down in a consistent pattern, while the surviving cuts solidify The Great Discord's efforts to build its enterprise of emotion and all the bullsh*t of the human experience. I will say, however, that despite its shortcomings in the songwriting department that I was surprised by how varied and substantial The Great Discord appears when their wires aren't tangled. But perhaps The Great Discord also has the luxury of remaining gratified in its own universe, as though a child who, despite his or her general disconnect with the goings-on of the other children, finds joy in the gateways of imagination and not petty social interaction. "Duende" has the ability to captivate, fleeting as it may be.