Norteño enthusiasts who have been following los Cardenales de Nuevo León for a long time know that when they deliver a new album, it isn't going to reinvent the norteño wheel. But they also know that more than likely, they can expect quality. Los Cardenales have a reputation for being consistent and reliable, if predictable -- and they live up to that reputation on El Juramento (The Oath). This 2007 release doesn't pretend to break any new ground for the norteño veterans, but their performances are solid and dependable on tracks like "Desde Que Te Perdí" (Since I Lost You"), "La Última Palabra" (The Last Word), "Por un Engaño" (Because of a Deception) and ("En Tu Ventana" (In Your Window) -- all of which have considerable ranchera appeal and fall into the category of hardcore norteño or traditional norteño rather than crossover norteño or pop-norteño. El Juramento isn't hardcore as far as getting into controversial subject matter; this 35-minute CD sticks to the time-honored ranchera themes (love, loss, heartbreak, romantic disillusionment -- many of the same themes that country music is known for) and doesn't get into political or social commentary. So don't expect to find a cover of los Tigres del Norte's "La Banda del Carro Rojo" on this album. But El Juramento is definitely hardcore norteño in that it is very ranchera-minded and isn't the least bit apologetic about it. When El Juramento came out in September 2007, there were a ton of Cardenales albums to choose from; these guys have been recording since the '80s and they record frequently. And because this is an album that -- although pleasing -- falls short of essential -- novices would be better off looking for some best-of collections. But longtime fans will be glad to hear how nicely los Cardenales de Nuevo León are holding up on this 2007 release.
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AllMusic Review by Alex Henderson