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Diablo Swing Orchestra - Sing-Along Songs For The Damned & Delirious CD (album) cover


Diablo Swing Orchestra


Progressive Metal

3.92 | 180 ratings

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4 stars As a big fan of both metal and jazz, this band holds a lot of appeal to me. Even their name was enough to inspire my interest: Diablo Swing Orchestra. Sounds like a melding of three wonderful, albeit theoretically incompatible, genres. As is turns out, there is more than just that to DSO.

Right off the bat the opener, "A Tap Dancer's Dilemma", reminds me of a great swing song I played with my school's jazz band this year. The "jungle" beat on the tom lends a very energetic feel to this song, and the energy doesn't let up through to its completion. The vocals on this track, in my opinion, are the best on the album; very intersting and distinct voices are used, to great effect. There are beautiful travelling bass lines for most of the tune, one of my favourite things about swing music. The acoustic fills are tasty beyond belief. Like fried chicken, they are simultaneously greasy and fantastic. The first time I heard the first acoustic section, flowing into the bass groove afterwards, it practically exploded my brain it was so perfect. "A Tap Dancer's Dilemma" is unbelievably catchy, easily the easiest song to listen to on this album.

Next, we have "A Rancid Romance." While I can appreciate the creativity behind it, the latin feel does not seem to meld with the metal influence as seamlessly as with the swing/boogie of track 1. I do, however, love both opera vocals and upright bass. I find that this song gets worthwhile around 1:29 when the bowed bass and toms come in. From there until the end of the bowed bass fill (2:06) is the highpoint of this track. Overall, this tune doesn't maintain my interest as thoroughly as most of the others on Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious. The "break down" does not sound very good to me, and the gentle strings ending is beautiful but feels out of place.

"Lucy Fears the Morning Star" is a song that I didn't fully appreciate on my first listen through, but it has really grown on me. The brass and timpani intro is just wonderful. This great track is very unique, and it excellently exemplifies a tension build/release cycle. The clean guitar and violin fills are all perfectly placed and executed. The percussion and horn section starting from 4:45 changes the feel in a good way. "Lucy Fears..." starts strong and gets better and better to a lucratively thrilling ending. The trumpet and upright duel is simply stunning; bravo!

"Bedlam Sticks" might actually be somewhat scary were it not so inherently silly. A fiendishly delightful romp about a cookie, this is definitely a standout track. And that is one hella-powerful sung note at the end.

Other than the cool delayed guitar intro, and the heavily layered acoustic interlude, "New World Widows" is one of the weaker and less remarkable songs on this album. The vocals don't feel as tight/cohesive with the track as others; feels like a filler track, but that might just be because I don't like it. The ending is uninspired.

"Siberian Love Affairs" is definitely filler, although interesting. It really establishes a mood.

"Vodka Inferno" is another track where the beginning is the weakest part (although by no means is it bad), and it gets better and better as it proceeds. The lyrics seem somewhat cliché'd, but I don't pay much attention to that anyway. The harmonized chorus is lovely, and the breakdown brings some genuinely kick-ass metal riffs, followed by fantastic interplay between the guitar and violin (or is that a viola?). The 'words so tender...' line is gorgeous, with a pretty acoustic strings background and very emotional sounding vocals. Then, there's some polka-style bass later; and, me being a tuba player, there's not much that I like more than polka-bass!

Musically, "Memoirs of a Roadkill" is so wrong, but so, so right. The bass and guitar riff combinations are downright odd, but they definitely grow on you. After the brief vocal "solo", ~1:30, the bass and guitar chord fragment parts that come back in almost sound like a jazzed up version of Primus' "Hamburger Train." The acoustic soloing is very tasteful. A minute long free-form classical guitar solo closes off this track on a very pretty note. This may be my favourite song from this album.

"Ricerca Dell'anima" annoys me right off the bat, with that single-note guitar "solo." Then, the surf riffing cheers me up a bit, then the woman's vocals, which don't seem as strong here as on any of the other songs, annoy me again, and then the rest of the tune does nothing for me. This one is weak overall, but at least the last 20 seconds are cool, with a rippin' fiddle shred.

The closer, "Stratosphere Serenade", grabs my attention right off the start, but gradually loses it. It's a good track but not terribly remarkable, and it lasts a little too long to remain exciting. Also, what kind of an ending for an album is that, a fadeout that lasts almost a minute? Well, it does it's job well enough, and being the only significant fade it stands apart from the endings of other tracks.

I really can't see anyone singing along with these Sing Along Songs, but listening to and enjoying them, certainly. It's almost a shame the album opener is so dizzyingly fine, much of the rest pales slightly in comparison.

Overall, I prefer Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious to Diablo Swing Orchestra's debut The Butcher's Ballroom. One gripe I have about it is that the snare drum has more of a "heavy metal" tone to it, similar to those of Chris Adler and Mike Portnoy, and I would rather hear a looser, jazzier sounding snare like on their debut. It is, however, nice to hear more male singing on this album than the previous, lending more variety to the vocals.

Best tracks: Tap Dancer's Dilemma, Lucy Fears the Morning Star, Bedlam Sticks, Memoirs of a Roadkill

I could do without: New World Widows, Siberian Love Affairs, Ricerca Dell'anima

Triceratopsoil | 4/5 |


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