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Diablo Swing Orchestra

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Diablo Swing Orchestra The Butcher's Ballroom album cover
3.91 | 184 ratings | 17 reviews | 35% 5 stars

Excellent addition to any
prog rock music collection

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Studio Album, released in 2006

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Balrog Boogie (3:53)
2. Heroines (5:23)
3. Poetic Pitbull Revolutions (4:52)
4. Ragdoll Physics (3:53)
5. D'Angelo (1:54)
6. Velvet Embracer (4:05)
7. Gunpowder Chant (1:51)
8. Infralove (4:54)
9. Wedding March for a Bullet (3:14)
10. Qualms of Conscience (1:16)
11. Zodiac Virtues (4:48)
12. Porcelain Judas (4:09)
13. Pink Noise Waltz (6:07)

Total Time 50:19

Line-up / Musicians

- Annlouice Lögdlund / vocals
- Daniel Håkansson / guitars, sitar, vocals
- Pontus Mantefors / guitars, synths, percussion, didgeridoo, Fx
- Johannes Bergion / cello
- Anders Johansson / bass
- Andreas Halvardsson / drums

- Per Gunnar Juliusson / pianos
- Emmy Lindström / violin
- Kristin Olsson / flute
- Tobias Wiklund / trumpet
- David Werthén / double bass

Releases information

Artwork: Peter Bergting

CD Guillotine Grooves ‎- GILDSO20061 (2006, Sweden)

LP Ascendance Records ‎- ASC23014LPSP (2011, UK)

Digital album - bandcamp

Thanks to The T for the addition
and to NotAProghead for the last updates
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DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA The Butcher's Ballroom ratings distribution

(184 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(35%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(39%)
Good, but non-essential (18%)
Collectors/fans only (7%)
Poor. Only for completionists (1%)

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA The Butcher's Ballroom reviews

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Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Prog-jester
3 stars I really am shocked, 'coz my review is going to be the first written one!

Okay, let's get down to it. First of all, this is not Avant Metal in the form I know it. DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA is a good and accessible Symphonic Metal band, with female (mostly) and some male screamy/growling vocals (rare), but not your typical "beauty and the beast" metal cliche. Their music is good, with unconventional approach (there are some real tango/boogie/swing/ whatever parts), but always melodic and catchy enough, far from dissonant or too disturbing. NIGHTWISH with fresh brains, I'd say ;) Nothing too much extreme/hard-to-get-into there, like in UnExpect / maudlin of the Well / Ephel Duath / Meshuggah. I doubt someone would have tough times when digging DSO's stuff. This is possibly why I lowered my rating (I was going to give it 4 stars first). Enjoyable, fresh and recommended, but only 3.5 stars for now

Review by The T
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
5 stars It's so unfair when bands like these are virtually unknown. This is a class act.

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA's music is incredibly original. In their album, "The Butcher's Ballroom", they go over a lot of different territories. Metal, avant-garde (though not in the same vein as more extreme bands like Unexpect), symphonic (more in the sense of their choice of instruments than in their choice of structures), jazzy, but always, always unique.

The band play a metal style that at times may remind us of bands like THERION (specially in their latest album, "Gothic Kabbalah") but also of completely different bands like AYREON (some riffs and ideas make me say that). Though metallic, the music never gets extreme or difficult to listen to by the non-metal fan. As the band's name implies, they can carry a rhythm, as well as a tune, and they do. Imagine the soundtrack for a burlesque, grotesque infernal theater, full of little puppets dressed in red, staging sarcastic, ironic plays that require an insane, almost sickly perverted musical joke for soundtrack. That's not to say that this music is a joke: the complete opposite is true. This is some really serious art. With room for melody but also for violence. With

That is also accomplished with the original orchestration that may be this group's biggest achievement. Besides the traditional guitar-bass-drums set-up, the DSO adds all kind of keyboards, strings (but not in the common synth-like sense but as individual, single musical units with more than just harmonic/background duties) and winds. As I just mentioned, all of these varied instruments have a reason to be there. Unlike other artists who just add non-traditional colors to their palettes but just as some kind of reinforcement for the typical metal line-up, DSO makes this new voices matter. When you hear a cello, it's no in the background, but on the forefront, playing a riff or a melody.

Another one of "The Butcher's Ballroom" 's great success stories is the leading vocals. Annlouice Loegdlund's operatic voice steals the show with its warmth (yes, warmth, amidst furious metal riffs) and the heights it is able to reach. There are some growling vocals here and there, but they are almost unnoticeable and completely swallowed by the weight of Loegdlund's art. This is not your typical "beauty and the beast" band where the female part is just but a shadowing contrast to the prevalent male guttural one. Here, the "beast" side of the equation is almost reduced to zero, while the "beauty" (and it is a beautiful voice) leads the way for more than 90% of the album.

The skill of the musicians needs not be questioned. Throughout the whole disc we're constantly marveled at the quality of the playing, by either the gifted drummer, the precise bass player, the virtuosic string instrumentalists, or the incredibly creative, innovative guitar players. Though the linear notes don't contain the names of the members of the band, they're listed here.

Without a doubt, one of the most overlooked albums of 2006 (I can't believe that this album wasn't even mentioned in best-of lists while experiments in noise got all kinds of recognition). A gem that you should try to discover. These Swedes deserve your time.

Recommended for: Every fan of progressive metal. Fans of non-extreme avant-garde metal Fans of experimental/art rock in general.

.the Diablo is waiting to dance a swing with you. With the most infernal, seductive of soundtracks.

Review by UMUR
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Diablo Swing Orchestra is often praised as the next big thing in female led heavy metal. The Butcher´s Ballroom is their debut album, but it´s a very impressive album in terms of musicianship, and in some respect originality. If you like female led heavy metal bands like Nightwish, Stream of Passion, Within Temptation or any of the countless others, Diablo Swing Orchestra is mandatory listening. Diablo Swing Orchestra is a bit different from the rest of those bands though, as they try hard to incorporate progressive ideas into their music.

The music is basically heavy metal with a female operatic singer very much like Nightwish. In fact Annlouise Loegdlund has a very similar voice to Tarja from Nightwish. Like Nightwish there is also sporadic male singing for varitation. Daniel Håkansson isn´t a very impressive singer though. There are many different influences in the music and as a result of that there are many different styles and genres incorporated into Diablo Swing Orchestra´s music. Note the Swing rythm in Balrog Boogie or the spanish latin inspired acoustic guitar parts that occur in several of the songs.

What is most notable in Diablo Swing Orchestra´s sound is the extensive use of cello in their music. This gives the music a folky/ classical quality that sets them apart from many of their peers.

The musicianship is outstanding on The Butcher´s Ballroom and singer Annlouise Loegdlund has to be praised for her beautiful singing. She sound very much like Tarja from Nightwish when she sings her operatic parts, but she also masters more calm singing styles.

The production is very good. Just the way I like a metal production.

This is a very good album, but even though Diablo Swing Orchestra really try to be original there are still way too many metal clichés on The Butcher´s Ballroom to really excite me. I feel like I´ve heard those same rythm guitar riffs a million times before and honestly I cannot understand with this much talent in the band why they can´t be more inventive when it comes to the guitars. This part of their music really bore me and lets face it people this is heavy metal and the backbone of heavy metal is distorted guitar riffs. You can do all sorts of good and progressive things with your heavy metal music but if you haven´t got strong guitar riffs to back it up it soon gets generic. This is what happens with The Butcher´s Ballroom even though all sorts of things are done to make the music exciting. So a good album it is, but it never reaches the excellent mark for me. 3 stars is my conclusion.

Review by horsewithteeth11
3 stars What's this, yet another female-fronted metal band? But what are they doing in tech/extreme or even on this site?

Actually, Diablo Swing Orchestra honestly deserves to be on PA, no question there. Unlike some of their contemporaries (Nightwish, Within Temptation, Epica, etc etc blah blah blah you know the rest), they actually try to stand out from the competition. And with their debut, The Butcher's Ballroom, they manage to succeed fairly well in that to a degree. This isn't by any means as extreme as unExpect, but there are some odd/unconventional elements to the songs, even though some of them follow the verse/chorus format. The one thing that really sets DSO apart from their peers is the extensive use of cello. It really gives the music a more classical influence to it, and Loegdlund's voice does nothing but add to that. Actually, this album feels more rooted in classical and gothic (not MTV goth, but authentic gothic tradition) music than it does avant-garde. Each song is pretty unique and stand out from the rest fairly well, although the classical/gothic feel never really diminishes any. While it is certainly a strength of the album it is also one of its' primary weaknesses. Even on songs such as Poetic Pitbull Revolutions, which has a really interesting intro with flamenco guitar and a swing feel to it, it still feels incredibly gothic. Some of the other influences on the album never really get their fair share of the spotlight.

The first weakness leads into the second, and that is that while many of the songs are distinctly different, the basic sound never changes much throughout, and the second half of the album makes me drift off sometimes. This is not a bad album by any means, and is for the most part enjoyable. If you can appreciate female-fronted metal, you should be able to enjoy this. Some non-metal fans may even enjoy it, given that it isn't terribly heavy. However, a lack of variety and too many clichés means I have a hard time giving this any more than 3 stars. Hopefully their next album sees improvement in the areas I found lacking, because this could become a fairly original band in the metal scene.

Review by Conor Fynes
5 stars 'The Butcher's Ballroom' - Diablo Swing Orchestra (8.5/10)

Diablo Swing Orchestra, whether you believe their amusing origin story or not, are a band that suprised alot of people. Safely to say, many of the new metal bands coming out are releasing stuff that while it may be good; it sounds rehashed from prior giants of the metal world. By releasing 'The Butcher's Ballroom,' it's a pleasure to say that DSO breaks this standard and allows their imaginations to transcend boundaries.

While it's undeniable that 'The Butcher's Ballroom' is chock full of great musical ideas, the sound of the band may not appeal to everyone. Essentially, the band takes swing jazz, mixes it with a hefty dose of metal, and adds the touch of operatic vocals. It's alot of influences to take in at one time, but for those that can appreciate the style described will find alot out of this album.

From the opening track (the amusingly titled 'Balrog Boogie') onwards, you get a good idea of what the band is all about, although other genres, including flamenco and even electronic music are explored.

While DSO makes for an original experience like no other, there are definately parts where they let their respect for existing acts well known. 'Porcelain Judas' gives us a synth section that sounds just a bit much like Ayreon, and the male vocals sound as if they were plucked from a Muse tribute band... Still, this is no discredit to the band or its tact.

The operatic vocals don't work for the jazzy style, I don't think; although it definately gives them more of an avant-garde feel. The male vocal parts end up being fairly more enjoyable, although the operatic singer certainly has a set of strong pipes, shown in the Italian classical ballad 'D'Angelo.'

A suprisingly adventurous and fantastic album. Give a listen to the Diablo Swing Orchestra, and hear something you haven't quite heard before.

Review by jampa17
4 stars Crazy well oriented music.

There's no other way to describe this music. While most of the music is getting formulaic, DSO manages to make very original music putting their feet into a very complex and dangerous places. Merging twist, jazz, tap, boogie and even spanish guitars with prog metal was enough, but putting operatic voices on it is maybe too much. But I don't care, I really enjoy the originality and the versatility of the players.

It's complicated to describe, you have to hear it to believe it. The female vocalist sound a little bit different than Tarja and the music will take you to a complete different place than Nightwish and all the bands alike. While the style on each song is different, the vibe of the album is very up lifting. The musicians really projects a pleasant mood and is evident that they are having fun while making great and entertaining music.

Now, if you are not that much into crazy music (some could call "misdirection" to this music) or into operatic voice, maybe it can be annoying. But I really enjoy when the bands make metal interesting and experiment way out of the regular standards of music. This is the best case I have seen in years and deserves a lot attention.

Diablo Swing Orchestra made a great opening with this album, but better things were in the future. For stars because it really is a excellent add to any collection...

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Many things I've said on their 2009 release are still true, even here. So find myself impressed there, but here I have to say that I heard this one after their second album. This influenced me for sure somehow. It is less melodic, more classical, less extreme and more pleasant, not so full of drastic changes of pace and course of the song and also vocalists sings differently. And I mean classical a lot, it's one of the key elements here. But still, the main attraction here would be this unique combination and (again, or more like for the first time), done in different ratio than in second case (2009), so this makes them quite unique, yet similar.

4(+), possibly more, due to its more appealing charm (than following album)

Review by snobb
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
3 stars Wow! Operetta with some metal arrangements! Show business is extremely inventive nowadays!

Debut album of this pop-swing-Latin-operetta Swedish band is catchy one! Songs are melodic and very simple,straight forward. But to make it attractive to as much auditory as possible, there are plenty of kitsch elements collected from very different musical directions.

Operatic female vocals over pop songs with some heavier guitars to attract some teen-rebels (did it work?) are quite impressive, but all that we heard on Therion albums. And to be honest, even Tarja Turunen sounded better (when she still tried to save very average Finnish symphonic pop-metal band Nightwish from total disaster). Plenty of acoustic guitar and Latin tunes sound almost fanny, Los Lobos and Tito & Tarantula from Tarantino movies soundtracks are far more authentic.

Swing in combination with teens hairy metal - lets name it avant-metal? OK, but for me it sounds more like nowadays clever rock'n'roll circus. Attraction for people who hates opera,real metal, real jazz, real avant, any real music. But who likes catchy melodies, accessible music and all kitsch in one package.

Must to note though - for such listener this album is well done! It's not cheap kitsch, it's the professional one. And it works - I am not really the one who will like this album, but I must agree this new Army Of Lovers (another Swedish band of similar musical direction) version is more attractive and possibly even will be more popular. One day.

Catchy metal music for metal haters. My rating is 2+,rounded to 3 - for new kitsch (anti)music concept.

Review by siLLy puPPy
COLLABORATOR PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic Teams
5 stars In the world of experimental and avant-garde metal, one can hardly know what to expect and more often than not, a band digs deep into the recesses of experimentation only to conjure up some type of music that is dense and complex and requires some serious investment of time and energy in order to find a footing in the newly created sonic universe that they have constructed. And then there's bands like Sweden's DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA that not only catches your attention from the very first seconds of first contact but manages to suck you in and enjoy the music from the get go and when all has been played and you have a chance to reflect upon the crazy combo effect of the music at hand, you will ask yourself "It's such a logical combination of things, why hasn't someone thought of this before?" DSO is one of those blender bands that takes everything including the kitchen sink approach, alloys all kinds of disparate musical styles and throws them into a salad bowl and then tosses all the components around until they form a whole new form of musical expression.

While this music is primarily based on a healthy supply of metal guitar riffing married with the jump blues and swing revival scene that was all the rage in the 1990s and graced with the female classical soprano diva vocals of AnnLouice Lögdlun belting out operatic enunciations like there's no tomorrow, the music also incorporates all sorts of other styles including Flamenco guitar, Middle Eastern, spaghetti western, surf rock as well as good old-fashioned rock 'n' roll. THE BUTCHER'S BALLROOM is the full-length debut album but technically isn't the band's debut release since a four track EP titled "Borderline Hymns" came out in 2003, a full three years before this album. However, BALLROOM contains all four tracks from that debut EP thus rendering it completely irrelevant and a mere footnote in history. They haven't even been re-recorded or anything so in effect this one could very well be considered the debut.

THE BUTCHER'S BALLROOM is divided up into two Acts which are supposed to represent some sort of story line but i honestly have no friggin' clue as to what these two divided themes are all about. They probably have some reference to the band's tongue-in-cheek approach to creating a completely faux mythology regarding their timeline which purportedly begins with their ancestral history that goes all the way back to 16th century Sweden. The current band is supposed to be the ancestors of past band members who created diabolical music that was strictly forbidden by the Lutheran church. The tale becomes more elaborate as the members of this secret musical organization had to go into hiding for centuries up until the right time would allow the inheritor's of this secular music to expose their musical world to the public. Well, wait no longer, DOS is here to stay!

While all these styles sound like a possible road to disaster and very likely could have been if DOS weren't so skilled in how they pull all these disparate styles off. Daniel Håkansson is the sole songwriter on this one and clearly has the knack of knowing just how much of the different ingredients to add to this musical salad and just like a fine cuisine knows when too much lettuce and too many tomatoes can throw off the balance of the whole. It's fairly uncanny in how accessible the music is upon first listen but has ways of letting you dig deeper into the song constructs once the initial WOW factor has waned. In addition to the aforementioned styles that dominate THE BUTCHER'S BALLROOM, the listener will also be floored with all sorts of other instruments that aren't supposed to work here but somehow do. A didgeridoo can be heard accompanying surf rock and jazzy opera singing. Flamenco dances side by side with electronica and cellos happily accompany heavy distorted metal riffs.

The trick to enjoy DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA's conglomerating mass of styles is to not become too enthralled in any one particular genre style. While often fitting into the vague descriptive category of avant-garde metal, this is definitely no headbanger's paradise as metal is not the dominate force on this one but more of an accompanying sound effect to wrap itself around the dominating gypsy swing, classical and jazzy undertones that swing from one musical thread to another. This is simply wild and crazy stuff and the only band that comes to mind with their ability to mix and meld so many styles and still create a very melodic and musical experience is the Japanese band Sigh. THE BUTCHER'S BALLROOM truly was like no other album or band that came before. DOS truly found a total unique identity from their inception and nothing else has even come close to copying it and with a lineup that includes not only guitars, bass, drums and keys but ample extras such as lute, flute, cello, double bass, violin as well as a few ethnic touches here and there, you know you're in for a wild ride unlike another other. Love it!

Review by Warthur
3 stars Diablo Swing Orchestra's basic schtick was pretty well codified on this debut album: take some lukewarm metal, apply influences from prog and swing, ladle on some operatic vocals and serve with melodrama. It's fun and all, but I find it wears thin over the course of an entire album taking this general approach. The Orchestra is clearly a technically gifted crew, though, and individual songs are enjoyable in small doses, but it feels like a mash-up too far - like if they did opera-swing, or metal opera, or swing metal, it'd work better than this attempt at operatic swing metal.

The album was made freely available via Creative Commons, though, so no harm in checking it out to see if it's more to your taste than mine.

Review by Kempokid
3 stars When listening to this album with the term 'swing metal' being the only information I had about them, I expected an entire album full of some lighthearted, jazzy fun. What I got instead was a much more varied, eclectic album taking inspiration from symphonic metal bands such as Nightwish, and then applying a massive variety of genre influences such as swing and flamenco, complete with a great juxtaposition between operatic female vocals and much more standard, albeit expressive male vocals, which adds even more character to the band. Despite the very distinct, quite unique sound they have, I also do find a lot of it to be extremely fun and accessible, with everything having a very pleasant, or at least palatable sound to it.

Balrog Boogie is a track that was exactly as I expected from this band, a really groovy bassline that then explodes into a fun, jazzy melody. I find the song to be a more operatic, slightly less energetic take on Devin Townsend's Bad Devil in many respects, and the influence is incredibly clear. Heroines is a much calmer song with a tango style, with a great build up as more metal elements are introduced, before they all fade away into a really nice cello solo. The next song, Poetic Pitbull Revolution, is my favourite on the album, with a really fun salsa style, with some incredibly entertaining trumpets and my favourite moment on the album, the guitar solo at around the minute mark. The song has a particular intensity to it that I just love, and it definitely separates itself from a lot of other songs due to having this, constantly dipping and rising in intensity. Rag Doll Physics marks another high point with by adding a layer of melancholy through the almost isolated feel of the chorus adding some more depth.

The album continues along the line of making all around enjoyable songs that try out their own styles, with particular mention going to Infralove, both for it's incredible transition and its slight electronic intro, which sounds marvellous, and Pink Noise Waltz for the extremely enjoyable guitar. One issue I do have is that I do find the second half of the album to become less interesting due to the somewhat similar sound a lot of the songs have, even if they go into wildly different styles. I feel like this has something to do with the extremely dramatic nature of everything, with the vocals being the clearest sign of it, making it grow somewhat tiring by the end, although it's not enough to have me dislike the album in any way.

Overall, this is a highly enjoyable, interesting album that shows a lot of potential, despite its mild shortcomings. I definitely appreciate how the variation of styles isn't just a gimmick, but the music complements it quite well. I found this album to overall be highly enjoyable and definitely feel compelled to check out their later albums to see what they end up doing with this, especially if they end up going into more territory explored on songs like Gunpowder Chant and Porcelain Judas, both of which have a particular exotic tinge to them that I'd love listening to more of.

Best songs: Balrog Boogie, Poetic Pitbull Revolution, Rag Doll Physics, Infralove

Weakest songs: Velvet Embracer

Verdict: Anyone who wants something fun and different to listen to, I'd recommend this to you, as nothing about it is particularly challenging, yet still offers a very compelling listen full of interesting concepts.

Edit: Despite how fun the album is, I really don't find much push to relisten to it that much. It's actually exactly what I expected from this kind of band, with a gothic sound with nice overtones of a lot of entertaining genres, but never really goes far and beyond to me.

Latest members reviews

4 stars it's a very very amazing miscelaneous of Heavy, Prog, Cabaret, Opera, etc. One more tipical creativitiy in swedish heavy metal circle, like Pain of Salvation, Therion and Opeth. I love different sounds, and it needs some courage!!!!!!!! When I listened "Balrog Boogie", for the first time, I thoug ... (read more)

Report this review (#2669897) | Posted by Cello Carneiro | Friday, January 7, 2022 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Initial impressions suggested that this was going to be all fun and musical games, some sort of a swing or boogie metal - a rare approach but not unheard of (ska punk bands have been doing similar stuff for years). Well prepare to be surprised. To be sure, there is lot of fun here. But these Swe ... (read more)

Report this review (#1113566) | Posted by Progrussia | Monday, January 13, 2014 | Review Permanlink

5 stars I ask myself why "The Butcher's Ballroom" is on the top of my most-listened albums. Well, for me, there are many reasons. Since almost October 2008 I've been listening to this album and still can go on with it. The prominent reason is the prevailing melancholic and dark atmosphere that starts ... (read more)

Report this review (#835691) | Posted by amirima | Wednesday, October 10, 2012 | Review Permanlink

5 stars Timeless. All of the tracks on DSO's debut are compelling in some way or another. The music is a melting pot of genres with rock/metal as its foundation. Every songs have the elements of guitar, bass, drums as any other rock ensemble, but the diversity between the tracks are unheard of. Whe ... (read more)

Report this review (#275933) | Posted by Robinanimate | Friday, April 2, 2010 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Hook Up With the Decibel of the Ball I know what you're thinking: A black mass conducted by Hi De Ho Priest Cab Calloway with Minnie the Moocher as sacrificial offering to the Dark Lords. Not so, as this very innovative record manages to confound my expectations that it would turn out to be jus ... (read more)

Report this review (#239564) | Posted by ExittheLemming | Wednesday, September 16, 2009 | Review Permanlink

4 stars Take Apocalyptica, Nightwish, Therion, Goran Bregovic and Metallica. Put them in one tiny room. Open fire on their feet, to make them dance and play. They do. But with your surprise, you notice that they play and dance with joy and style. You thought you were just making a cruel trick, and you ... (read more)

Report this review (#230058) | Posted by pepato | Wednesday, August 5, 2009 | Review Permanlink

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