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Progressive Metal • Sweden

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Diablo Swing Orchestra biography
The Diablo Swing Orchestra is an avant-metal band from Sweden. The origins of their name are explained on their website, though the story has more to do with fiction than with fact. According to it, in the 16th Century there was an orchestra in Sweden that "played like no other" and that defied the ruling, wealthy, powerful Church with music that give the people a "new view" of life. The Church deemed the music satanic, calling the ensemble "the Devil's Orchestra". As the influence of the ensemble proved hard to eliminate, according to the story, its members were finally framed for murder and forced to hide. After a reward was offered, the orchestra's members were finally caught and hanged.

The legend says that, before being captured, the orchestra's members "signed a pact saying that their descendants were given the task of reuniting the orchestra in 500 years and continue their work of spreading thought-provoking music". Thus, a few centuries later, two of the current Diablo Swing Orchestra's members, supposedly descendants of the original 16th Century members, reunited in a local music shop and start talking about music, which only lead them to discover that they were the ones meant to resurrect the Orchestra of old. And this is how The Diablo Swing Orchestra came to exist. (quotes from the band's MySpace site).

The music they play is a highly original avant-metal. Lots of jazz, (swing), some funky tones, but also a big classical influence (with operatic vocals) and, of course, rock and metal. The orchestration of the songs is also very unique, with all kinds of keyboard, wind instruments and percussion. If one moment one can think the music is just plain metal (even power metal), it only takes one second for the band to switch to styles as varied as flamenco or jazz, or go for more atmospheric, gloomy passages. If there's one band that truly deserves to be called "avant-metal", then this one is it.

Band members:

Daniel Håkansson - guitars, vocals
Pontus Mantefors - guitars, fx
Annlouice Loegdlund - vocals
Andy Johansson - bass
Johannes Bergion - cello
Andreas Halvardsson - drums

Why this artist must be listed in :
The music this band plays is absolutely progressive, trascending genre barriers and also creating a unique, incredibly original experience.

Borderline Hymns, Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo (2003)
The Butcher's Ballroom,...
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Pandora's PinataPandora's Pinata
Audio CD$9.16
$8.00 (used)
Sing-Along Songs for the Damned & DeliriousSing-Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious
Audio CD$12.18
$10.00 (used)
Butchers BallroomButchers Ballroom
TDNE 2007
Audio CD$16.47
$89.95 (used)
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Ordered by release date | Showing ratings (top albums) | Help to complete the discography and add albums

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.98 | 147 ratings
The Butcher's Ballroom
3.94 | 171 ratings
Sing-Along Songs For The Damned & Delirious
3.91 | 147 ratings
Pandora's Pinata

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)


DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA Boxset & Compilations (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA Official Singles, EPs, Fan Club & Promo (CD, EP/LP, MC, Digital Media Download)

3.19 | 7 ratings
Borderline Hymns


Showing last 10 reviews only
 The Butcher's Ballroom by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.98 | 147 ratings

The Butcher's Ballroom
Diablo Swing Orchestra Progressive Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury 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!

 Borderline Hymns by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2003
3.19 | 7 ratings

Borderline Hymns
Diablo Swing Orchestra Progressive Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

3 stars BORDERLINE HYMNS is technically the debut release by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA and came out a full three years before they would release their first full-length album " The Butcher's Ballroom." This EP contains only four tracks and all of them would be included on the first full-length release thus rendering this one completely irrelevant and a mere footnote in history and therefore could be considered only a demo of sort despite being released as a full fledged CD. While the music on this is totally excellent, this is basically inessential given that the tracks are all included on "The Butcher's Ballroom." I struggle as how exactly to rate this. Excellent music plus inessential seem to equal 3 stars. For descriptions of the music itself go to my review for "The Butcher's Ballroom."
 Sing-Along Songs For The Damned & Delirious by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.94 | 171 ratings

Sing-Along Songs For The Damned & Delirious
Diablo Swing Orchestra Progressive Metal

Review by Gallifrey

3 stars The only real positive I get out of listening to this album is how much it exemplifies Pandora's Piñata as a truly phenomenal transition.

Before I go any further, I'll just say it outright - Sing Along Songs for the Damned and Delirious is a mess. A sloppy, gimmick-filled mess of ridiculous influences and uber-quirky deliveries. If you are curious about this band, leave this page now and listen to Pandora's Pinata to hear an example of stylistic restraint and quality songwriting, which is something that is so damn rare in avant-garde metal. If you are here because you've heard Pandora's Pinata and liked it, I would suggest you go and listen to some Madder Mortem or maybe Unexpect (although they have some similar problems), and if you really need to, go and listen to The Butcher's Ballroom. This, however, should be your last stop, and you should certainly not expect anything from it.

The strangest thing about this album, and how weak it is in comparison to its follow up, is that on paper, the albums are identical. They both utilise swing, big band, and opera music and dose it with a shot of rhythm guitars and drums taken from a metal band, and then float along merrily having fun. But the problem with this album is that there just isn't any substance. When I reviewed Pandora's Pinata, I pointed out that it was a rare album in avant-garde metal, because almost all of the bands in this subgenre rely so hard on style over substance. And that album had both. It had the gimmick of swing metal, the fun of horns and operatic vocals, and all the pomposity and over-the-top antics of being a circus metal band, but it also had quality songwriting and ambitious execution. The songs were songs, not methods of showing off how many band members you have. The melodies were memorable, the chord progressions were great, and a whole lot of restraint was shown in the arrangements, proving that they could be solemn and introspective as well as bombastic and loud.

This album is pretty much just run-of-the-mill avant-metal.

I must admit that I'm over-exaggerating how bad this is, because while it is a steaming pile of [&*!#] next to its follow-up, compared to the norm in its genre, it's pretty standard, and if you're in it for gimmicks (which is honestly why most people listen to avant-metal, to be honest), then you'll find plenty of them here. The songs here make their way by playing a different variant of the pre-defined gimmick that DSO have set up. We have horn-heavy big band songs and vocal- heavy opera songs, and even a touch of the electronics I was a huge fan of on "New World Widows". But the songs themselves are just not memorable at all. Take out the horns and take out the metal and take out the weird vocals and you just have okay-ish songs. They put so much weight on the instruments and the gimmicks that when they fall flat (which is often) there is nothing to hold them up. And to add to that, the metal on this album is not only more prominent, but less interesting. I praised the guitar tone on Pandora's Pinata endlessly, and while this one does feel close, it has none of the groove that I loved from that album, and just feels like a chugging background noise to add "metal" to the gimmick.

But above the songs being weak, there are just some downright bad parts on this album - regularly due to the vocals. "Lucy Fears the Morning Star" features Annlouice Lögdlund slipping into her regular opera range, but it just simply doesn't fit. Whereas "Aurora" on Pandora's Pinata was a wonderful break from the main album into full operatic bombast, with operatic instrumentation to fit, this feels so forced and mashed together, especially when her vocals are accompanied by some half-assed death growls underneath. Many of these vocals feel like unnecessary Patton-isms in trying to be as quirky as possible, and it just gives nothing to the feeling of the album. Any groove that the horns and bass create (which is probably the best part about this album) is regularly snuffed out by awkward and LOOK HOW QUIRKY I AM XD vocals. So many of the tracks begin with reasonable clean vocals, then suddenly we have opera and it just kills any vibe that I was digging in the songs. To mention "New World Widows" again, there is a really nice Muse-like arpeggio in what would be a chorus, but instead of singing powerfully over it and changing the guitars to match, the entire sound is split between the retarded sounding Opera vocals (super high up) and the chugging guitars (far down low), with nothing in the middle, and it just loses all its power.

Is this any worse than most avant-garde metal? Well, probably not, but I'm still not going to throw much praise at it. To me, avant-metal is a genre that has the potential to be utterly amazing, but so many bands stop short when they've come up with their gimmick and simply don't bother putting any effort into making the songs good. And as the band who broke that mould for me once, I expected so much more from them. Obviously, this record came before Pandora's Pinata, so I can't exactly flame them for getting worse, and in fact I should really be praising them for improving so quickly, but I still can't help but feel a little bit disappointed in this album. If you're here for gimmicks and fun, you'll find them here, but every single aspect of this record was done better three years later, so I really don't see why anyone would ever listen to this.


Originally written for my Facebook page/blog:

 Pandora's Pinata by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.91 | 147 ratings

Pandora's Pinata
Diablo Swing Orchestra Progressive Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

3 stars Diablo Swing Orchestra offer up exactly what they imply in their bad name: they combine the devil's own metal with, of all things, the classic sepia-toned sound of big band swing, with a flair for the dramatic and a big sound to add a little orchestral gravitas. The cartoonish collision of disparate genres represented here certainly wins points for originality, though personally I found this album is diminished by repeated listens - once the novelty of their schtick begins to fade they offer a flashy cross-genre sound but not much emotionally resonant substance to give meat and long-term staying power to their music.
 The Butcher's Ballroom by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.98 | 147 ratings

The Butcher's Ballroom
Diablo Swing Orchestra Progressive Metal

Review by Progrussia

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 Swedes (I never cease to be amazed by the sheer musical talent in this country. Free time on socialist welfare is good for you :) apparently view themselves as art makers as well. Basically what they do is all sorts of traditional music - from the U.S., Spain, Latin America, Russia, the East etc - with heavy guitars and a metal-like intensity on the more traditional instruments. This force-of-nature approach applies also to the highly operatic female vocal.

A side note - out of their 3 albums, the first one is the most catchy and accessible.

 Pandora's Pinata by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.91 | 147 ratings

Pandora's Pinata
Diablo Swing Orchestra Progressive Metal

Review by arcane-beautiful

5 stars I have to admit...this band has flown by me these past few years. But thank the lord for relationships because they definitely bring in new music.

I have to admit, when first hearing this band, one of my first thoughts was, "Oh luck...a gimic band." But, as I was shown more and more stuff from this band, I was slowly becoming more impressed and becoming rather guilty at liking the very odd mix of swing and metal.

Now, most people associate these guys as "swing metal." Now, to a degree they are, but they are so more. Basically, these guys aren't afraid to dip their toes into a lot different genres, with a lot of surprises throughout.

Musically the band is just perfect. With an incredibly large ensemble, making rather complicated music could seem a challenge, but these guys pretty much are able to take a lot of styles and fuse them together without worry.

The opener "Voodoo Mon Amour" is the perfect opener for the album. With a very catchy chorus and a danceable groove, this song just makes you want to get on a table and dance like your in the 50s.

The single that was released from the album "Black Box Messiah" is a very odd and interesting song. With a chorus that sounds like every J-Pop song compressed into one and some rather odd instrumentation throughout just add to the oddness of the song. Also, if you don't mind having an epileptic seizure, I recommend you watch the music video for this song.

One of the biggest highlights on the album has to be "Aurora." Very much an aria, the song is a beautiful blend of orchestration with an absolutely jaw dropping mezzo soprano from Annlouice ( your heart out).

"Honey Trap Aftermath" is definitely one of the more easy listenable songs on the album with a very funky bassline on it. The mix of male and female vocals go very well together.

My personal favourite track has to be "Of Kali Ma Calibre." This has to be one of the best symphonic metal songs I have heard in the past few years, and probably of all time. With an incredibly boisterous vocal performance from Annlouice and an absolutely astounding instrumental performance, taking power and rhythms to new heights.

The final track, "Justice For Saint Mary" is an epic blend of an acoustic ballad and an over the top orchestra. With a beautiful falsetto based vocal from Daniel, the song is an absolute masterpiece. The ending, which received a lot of mixed looks with the dubstep sounding electronic bits. Personally, I really like it and I think it's an insane way to end an album.

In conclusion, these guys are doing something very different to what most bands are doing now. They're fun, enjoyable and very entertaining. Musically they are spot on, vocally they blend styles very well and they compose some pretty impressive music. The album seems to be their best effort so far, and only shows that this band's next release will just be as exciting as this album.


 Sing-Along Songs For The Damned & Delirious by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.94 | 171 ratings

Sing-Along Songs For The Damned & Delirious
Diablo Swing Orchestra Progressive Metal

Review by SevDawg

4 stars Wow, this caught me off guard. This is one of the most creative albums I've ever listened to. I've never really delved into avant-garde metal but this is a great place to start. DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA is progressive metal with elements of jazz & swing; an interesting energized genre of avant-garde metal.

"Sing-Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious". First off I'd like to mention the album artwork. It's hilariously awesome. The songs are very different from what I usually listen to, and that's what attracted me in the first place. A few songs that I think are the best on the album are "A Tap Dancer's Dilemma" , "Lucy Fears the Morning Star", and "Stratosphere Serenade".

Definitely a required taste, in its essence it's wacky and crazy music. Definitely worth a listen, this sort of creativity can't go unheard.

 Pandora's Pinata by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.91 | 147 ratings

Pandora's Pinata
Diablo Swing Orchestra Progressive Metal

Review by Gallifrey

5 stars [b]How To Organise A Musical Explosion[/b]

It took me a while to fully swallow [i]Pandora's Piñata[/i] as an album. I may have occasionally mentioned the epic endeavour that I undertook last year to compile my list of best albums, resulting in an inevitable overplaying of the same 30 or 40 records until my mind couldn't handle them anymore and I locked them in a special section of my library for never touching. Although it bred a great list, the strangest thing has happened since, involving the few albums that I excluded from that original set, to somehow discover my utter enjoyment for them. Pandora's Piñata had gained about 5 plays before I expelled it from the list, because I felt the novelty factor of SWINGMETALSWINGMETALSWINGMETAL had died off, and the music underneath really wasn't anything significant.

But like several other albums from what I now call one of the greatest years of music, [i]Pandora's Piñata[/i] came back to me in time, to my thorough enjoyment. Sure, the ridiculous elements of opera, swing, chamber and rock into some weird concoction may be the reason this album and band gets its fantastic reputation, but in fact there is an awful lot of well written music underneath the whole thing. I guess it's strange that I find the genre-defining opener "Voodoo Mon Amour" to be easily the weakest track on here, because it really is just swing metal with swing and metal and no real decent music underneath it. But every single other song, even 53 second interlude "How To Organise A Lynch Mob", bring something interesting to the table, both in forward-thinking structures and instruments, and the actually melodies and harmonies used underneath this.

I could pull every single song here apart and dissect the fantastic range of influences and sounds that Diablo Swing Orchestra utilise, but I really don't think that it's necessary. I'm really just going to talk about one thing here, one of the best things that has come from the realm of music in the last few years, at least in my ears; album closer "Justice For Saint Mary".

One of the things I notice about albums with "regular length songs" (whatever that means), is that very many of them feature an incredibly exquisite ending track in which the band decides for once to calm everything down and work on insane buildup, epic chorus and intense finish. And a significant number of these songs find themselves sitting on the highest heights of my best songs of all time lists. For some odd reason, when progressive bands do epic, 90% of the time it feels forced and useless, but when non-progressive bands do epic, it's explosive, it's insane, it's? epic. Taking a brief look at my lists, I'm reminded of the title track of Jimmy Eat World's [i]Invented[/i], "Say When" from [i]Fables From A Mayfly[/i] (Fair To Midland), even "Famous Last Words" from [i]The Black Parade[/i] (My Chemical Romance) and the incredible "But Home Is Nowhere" from [i]Sing The Sorrow[/i] (AFI, including its two hidden tracks of course). Hell, even "I Won't See You Tonight Part 1" from [i]Waking The Fallen[/i] (Avenged Sevenfold) is fantastic (although it's not a closing track). All of them settle into their little grooves and use development as key to epicness, without losing the structure that many prog bands lose in their longer tracks.

Although Diablo Swing Orchestra are most certainly a progressive band in the dictionary sense of the word, I don't really think the genre applies too well for them. The majority of [i]Pandora's Piñata[/i] is littered with fast, ridiculous and hilarious tracks with tubas and Japanese lyrics and opera singers, whereas "Justice For Saint Mary" slows everything right down. The other slower song on the record, "Exit Strategy of a Wrecking Ball", is my second favourite song here, but it lacks the intense buildup and release of the 8-minute explosion. The first few minutes bring forward a delicate beauty that was first introduced in "Exit Strategy", with solemn vocals and strings creating a more chamber influenced style than the bombastic swing violence that spreads throughout the earlier tracks. Although many (boring) people will claim that this song is generic and uninteresting at this point, I think it's absolutely stunning. The deep tuba underneath the strings keeps it up musically, and although the lyrics aren't top notch, you have to admit the vocal melody is pretty damn good.

I'll digress of the topic of this final song just for a moment while I talk about the "metal" on this record. To be honest, there isn't much. Diablo sure have a wide range of influences, but the only real metal part of this record is that insanely delicious guitar tone that comes in like a funky jazz beat in several songs. And damn, that tone is amazing. I mean, it's enough that DSO have all these influences and great songwriting, but great production too? The tone is fantastic, but don't ever think this is a metal album. But an expectation comes into "Justice For Saint Mary" near the end. The strings have built to a screeching crescendo. The epic line that they follow is chill-inducing, and yes, the moment when the guitar hits is phenomenal. Everything, the buildup of the track, the tuba, the strings, the guitar, the drums just comes together and for some odd reason it doesn't sound retarded. It sounds fantastic. And just when you think it couldn't get any better?

It explodes.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the breakdown at the end of "Justice For Saint Mary" is the best piece of music made in 2012. Or at least, it's the best idea, and the best executed. Maybe other moments, like the chorus of "Last Goodbye" from [i]Nine[/i] (Circus Maximus) might win, but this is the most utterly mind-boggling. Who else. Who else would put a [%*!#]ing dubstep breakdown at the end of an 8 minute chamber metal swing tuba rock song. But holy [&*!#], it works. Man, every time this comes on I have a [%*!#]ing eargasm. It's just so violent, so unexpected and so relentlessly attacking. A lot of metal bands try to do electronic, maybe putting some electronic drums in every now and then, but Diablo have gone full on here. This isn't just a breakdown, it's an incredibly well-produced piece of electronic cutting. This is Aphex Twin-level good. Man, the way the beat and the guitar are chopped and flung in all directions is insane. Diablo have clearly done their homework on this, because we all know how embarrassing it is when a rockband tries to incorporate electronic into their music and only proves how little they know about electronic music (COUGH MUSE COUGH), but DSO know exactly what they're doing here, and it is mind-blowingly, blood-pumpingly good. My pulse is rising just from writing about it.

But I do know that this explosion would not be as good without the immense buildup brought by the subtle beauty of the first half. On your first listen, it's unexpected, but on every other listen, it's the epic suspense that you know what's coming that makes it so good when it hits. It's why I get annoyed trying to show my friends this song, because they get bored after 3 minutes, and I don't just want to skip to the breakdown without the build up.

Man. What a song.

But anyway, although this review is already very long, I do feel I should comment a bit on the other 84% of this record for a brief moment. I have already mentioned my love for "Exit Strategy of Wrecking Ball", which may have you thinking that I simply love DSO when they're not being DSO. But no, this album is filled with some equally ridiculous moments that I adore, I just feel the slower parts were necessary to keep it coherent and fixed. The influences on [i]Pandora's Piñata[/i] are completely over-the-top, and somehow the album doesn't end up a complete mess. This is partially in part to the fact that Diablo clearly know what the [%*!#] they're doing. It's clear from the end of "Justice For Saint Mary" that the band clearly knows their electronic music, particularly glitch and dubstep, but "Aurora" is a fully-fledged opera piece, "Black Box Messiah" comes straight from J-Pop and "Guerilla Laments" even has a gypsy vibe to it. But where Diablo nail it completely is in the pure execution of these influences. Any band can put an emphasis on an off-beat and claim reggae influence, but Diablo really know all of the genres they're dabbling in inside-out. They know how to make good swing and they know how to make good metal and good god they know how to arrange a string and brass section. I think it's miraculous how there is not a single moment on this record in which the 15 or so instrumentalists playing together sounds cluttered. The strings merge perfectly with the operatic vocals and the tuba merges fantastically with the bass and guitar. Actually, come to think of it, that guitar tone does actually sound a bit like a tuba.

And that's not just it; the choruses here really nail it, too. If there's one think I love the most in music, it's an avant-garde band that uses melody as well as weird influences. The only other band I've currently found that can do it this well is probably Dog Fashion Disco, but even that isn't as catchy as some of these ones. As ridiculous as it may sound, the Japanese verses from "Black Box Messiah" are fantastically fun, even if I have no clue what I'm singing. Tons of fun is an understatement to some of these songs. And it's not as if music snobs can't listen to them too, since they can just rave about the impeccable use of trumpet as opposed to the catchy chorus.

[i]Pandora's Piñata[/i] is a bit of a beast. It's a fun, relatively accessible album, unlike every single other avant-metal album, but it's obviously got that incredibly deep range of influence and detail that we love to hear in these genres. It might alienate you a bit, but it's most certainly worth a try. And although I have commented a lot on "Justice For Saint Mary", I don't recommend simply listening to that song, it's at least 37 times more epic when heard at the end of a masterpiece.



 The Butcher's Ballroom by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.98 | 147 ratings

The Butcher's Ballroom
Diablo Swing Orchestra Progressive Metal

Review by amirima

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 jokingly/violently with "Balrog Boogie" and ends beautifully with "Pink Noise Waltz". Throughout the album I couldn't stop listening. The lyrics, wow, I just cannot believe how they mean to me. They mostly speak of love, failure, seclusion, corruption, bitterness of life and mysterious relationships which usually end in dark corners accompanied with lasting effects in our lives.

Musically, composed and arranged in the best fashion, the album is full of black and bittersweet melodies. Vocal lines are almost extraordinary. Guitar sounds cannot be better than what we hear in the album. At times, Contrabass and modern sounds and effects are two opposing forces that produce a united energy in the album- one takes you to the baroque era and the other brings you back to the 21st century. Diablo Swing Orchestra is really swinging (with Metal, Rock, Jazz, Baroque, Opera, and Folk) and that in one of the bloodiest of places: in a butcher's ballroom. Indeed, words cannot describe this true artistic masterpiece and do justice.

I think this album produces a psychological effect. If you feel lonely, you need to listen to it. If you feel exhausted, you need to listen to it. And 50 minutes is not a tiring journey at all for relieving your anxiety and depression.

 Pandora's Pinata by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.91 | 147 ratings

Pandora's Pinata
Diablo Swing Orchestra Progressive Metal

Review by zravkapt
Special Collaborator Post/Math Rock Team

4 stars This is the third album from this Swedish metal outfit, and the first full album I have heard from the group. I was surprised at how diverse their sound is on this album. What little I've heard from them sounded like a swing-influenced metal band with an opera singer. Granted, that is what they generally sound like but I was surprised, for example, at all the Middle-Eastern influence on this album; I wasn't expecting that. When they drift outside of the metal realm the results can be hit or miss. The lead vocals are a lot of the time done by a female opera singer but also non-operatic male vocals appear as well. The band now has eight members and there are a few guest musicians here as well. Besides your usual metal instrumentation, there is keyboards, wind instruments (mostly brass) and string instruments.

"Voodoo Mon Amour" starts the album with some metal swing (this is what I expected the whole album to sound like). Compared to some of the other songs this is one of my least favourite songs here. "Guerilla Laments" is a highlight. It opens with African style drumming...then goes into mariachi metal(?!). Nice vocal overdub effects. I've had the chorus to this song stuck in my head for days. Some of the drumming sounds Caribbean or Brazilian influenced. "Kevlar Sweethearts" is a symphonic folky ballad for the most part with some horn-laden metal at times. "Black Box" has a type of shuffle beat with fuzz guitar and techno synths. The singing here is at times weird: it sounds altered and in harmony but reminds me of Brian Johnson of AC/DC! One of the better songs, it should have been longer.

"Exit Strategy Of A Wrecking Ball" is a fairly straight-forward metal song with some cool spacey synths. Come to think of it with the male vocals here this almost reminds me of Muse. Just vocals and symphonic strings at times. Some brass shows up later. "Aurora" is basically just straight opera with some Middle-Eastern style music at the end. "Mass Rapture" also has Middle-Eastern influences, even the singing is done in a Middle-Eastern fashion. Nice mix of metal guitars and more spacey synths. "Honey Trap Aftermath" is basically some 1980s style white boy funk. Like "Aurora" I never really liked this song too much. "Of Kali Ma Calibre" is great majestic sounding symphonic metal. Some blastbeats here. Great drumming in general on this track. Just vocals and strings for awhile.

"Justice For Saint Mary" starts out as symphonic folk. A sinister sounding melody on strings later. That melody turns into metal at the end, just before turning into some kind of dubstep (?!). That last song really grew on me. A great sounding album with great performances. The music is diverse with lots of influences. Some songs I like a lot more than some of the other songs, so this isn't very consistent to me. A good album from 2012 anyway. My final verdict would be a 3.5 rounded up to 4 stars.

Thanks to The T for the artist addition.

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