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Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pandora's Piņata CD (album) cover


Diablo Swing Orchestra


Progressive Metal

3.93 | 177 ratings

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4 stars Third one's a charm

Oh who are we kidding here? So was the first and so was the second, reason for which the Swedes from Diablo Swing Orchestra can safely be tagged as one of the most outstanding bands that came into being in the 00's. As one would probably expect, Pandora's Pinata came with a series of novelties from its two predecessors: firstly, the album sees a change in the group's line-up - drummer Andreas Halvardsson has been replaced by the more technical former Therion drummer, Petter Karlsson (who subsequently left the band in spring 2012), while session trombone player, Daniel Hedin and trumpeter Martin Isaksson, have been dubbed full-time band members. Secondly, unlike The Butcher's Ballroom and Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious, where the group was still giving the impression of a metal band decorated with lavish operatic vocals and exotic dance rhythms, which contributed to their being generically classified as avant-garde metal, on Pandora's Pinata all these adornments are now intrinsic to their cryptic musical ensemble. Furthermore, DSO's dedicated followers will also notice a completely new array of arrangements, especially as far as percussion is concerned, but also for strings and the brass/horns sections. Also, another pleasant surprise is seeing guitarist Daniel Hakansson, whose subtly pretty vocal timbre could make him a perfect candidate for the lead singer of an indie band, take over leading vocals on countless occasions; plus, Andy Johansson's bass is more prominent than before.

Track-wise, the album debuts with the traditional swing rocker, Voodoo Mon Amour, which encapsulates features from both Balrog Boogie and A Tap Dancer's Dilemma; while the lyrics which comprise the two verses of the song are not the group's most fortunate, the unbelievably catchy and upbeat chorus makes up for a superb song finale. Following this, is Guerilla Laments, a veritable stoner samba wannabe, including Annlouice's beautiful vox and delicious horn and wild percussion segments. While Kevlar Sweethearts and How to Organize a Lynch Mob are marked by charming orchestral arrangements lead by classically trained Johannes Bergion's cello, Black Box Messiah comes forth with a fabulous chorus worthy of a J-Rock piece. Next in line is, Exit Strategy of a Wrecking Ball, with its heavy intro courtesy of Daniel and Pontus on electric guitars with a modicum of electronic effects, marks Daniel's first song where he takes full lead on vocals, and what a rendition! ' a menacing chorus delivered in a howling manner. On Aurora, a straight-forward acoustic classical piece, Annlouice Loegdlund makes a daunting display of her operatic vocal abilities, while Daniel provides lead on the oriental flavoured Mass Rapture. This is succeeded by another dance oriented track, Honey Trap Aftermath, which for some reason I find it reminiscent of Michael Jackson's Blood on the Dance Floor. Of Kali Ma Kalibre, an operatic mariachi spiced power metal bit, precedes the album's epic and arguably best track ' Justice for Saint Mary. This splendidly orchestrated song sees Daniel Hakansson taking the full lead of the vocals yet again, but the element of surprise comes towards the end when the electronically distorted instrumental kicks in, finishing the album in a dubstep-ish fashion, which attracted a series of negative criticism, claiming that the band was now sold out. My perception of this is that the group, with their extremely relaxed sense of humour, found an innovative and clever way to not take themselves too seriously... As you do.

Overall, the extensive waiting for this album was well worth it, and the band managed the impossible: combining the traditional DSO sound with cutting-edge components that still maintains a high level of interest in their music. Perhaps the individual tracks are not quite as surprising as some found on The Butcher's Ballroom, and perhaps the album's cohesion is not as compelling as on Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious, but Pandora's Pinata's strong point of view has the potential of turning it into a classic.

4 stars!

Lizzy | 4/5 |


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