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DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA

Progressive Metal • Sweden


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Diablo Swing Orchestra biography
Founded in Stockholm, Sweden in 2003

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.

The music this band plays is absolutely progressive, trascending genre barriers and also creating a unique, incredibly original experience.

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Butchers BallroomButchers Ballroom
Ascendance Records 2011
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PacifisticuffsPacifisticuffs
Spinefarm 2017
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Pandora's PinataPandora's Pinata
THE LASER'S EDGE 2017
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DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA discography


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

3.94 | 161 ratings
The Butcher's Ballroom
2006
3.99 | 187 ratings
Sing-Along Songs For The Damned & Delirious
2009
3.88 | 159 ratings
Pandora's Piñata
2012
4.17 | 95 ratings
Pacifisticuffs
2017

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

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

3.22 | 8 ratings
Borderline Hymns
2003

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Sing-Along Songs For The Damned & Delirious by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2009
3.99 | 187 ratings

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

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

5 stars After dropping their avant-garde fusion bomb in the form of the debut "The Butcher's Ballroom" onto an unsuspecting world in 2006 with their deliciously provocative fusion of swing jazz, heavy metal, classical opera and progressive rock, Sweden's zany DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA returned three years later to present the world with an equally mind-bending, genre-blending mishmash of musical madness in the form of SING ALONG SONGS FOR THE DAMNED AND DELIRIOUS. While a few lineup changes occurred in the three years passing with new trombonist Daniel Hedin joining the cast and trumpeter Martin Isaksson replacing Tobias Wiklund, the general gist of this sophomore release pretty much carries on exactly where "The Butcher's Ballroom" left off and continues the journey into the demented DSO universe.

While "The Butcher's Ballroom" put DSO on the map as experimental rock and avant-garde metal pioneers, SING ALONG SONGS FOR THE DAMNED AND DEMENTED is the album that got them larger worldwide recognition. Once again this whacky band delivers the goods in the swing department as they not only captured the jazz swing revival that was propelled by such acts as the Squirrel Nut Zippers and the Cherry Poppin' Daddies but they also scoured the planet to find other suitable types of swing genres such as that of European gypsy music and Balkan folk to add to their symbiotic stew of their metal fortified dancehall. Mix in some Middle Eastern, some tango and top it off with a heavy metal bombast of dual guitar heaviness and you have a recipe for true eccentricity delivered like no other. In fact, SING ALONG SONGS was nominated in 2011 for the Eclectic Album category in The 10th Annual Independent Music Awards.

While not exactly differentiating substantially from the debut's unabashedly brilliant delivery, nevertheless SING ALONG SONGS continues in perfect form with a whole new batch of ten exquisitely designed heavy stompers that swing, sing and bedazzle with a million tiny details tucked into the nooks and crannies. The whole festive affair is polished into a squeaky clean production with In Flames producer Roberto Laghi at the helm. In short DSO created their second brilliant masterpiece of mind-melting fusion in a seemingly effortless fashion that damns, dements and distracts the listener from mere ordinary musical experiences. If anything, SING ALONG SONGS perfects the techniques of the debut and adds new subtle elements to the mix which to the careful attentive listener will find a mind boggling amount of brilliance embedded in every aspect. Set mind status to fully blown!

"A Tap Dancer's Dilemma" starts things off sounding like a Satanically spawned version of the Glenn Miller Orchestra that was somehow abducted by evil forces and had their DNA cryogenically spliced and preserved only to find its way into a strange new millennium. The track really sounds like Glen Miller's "In The Mood" with its swinging characteristics but augmented by the metal riffing, Spaghetti western trombone and trumpet as well as the vocal dualistic antics of the operatic soprano prowess of Annlouice Wolgers and Daniel Håkansson's playful male vocal counterpoints. In fact the entirety of the album finds these two throwing the ball back and forth which gives a lively call and response conversational oomf to the process.

"A Rancid Romance" shows immediate diversity to the album's flow as it takes a tango groove on piano and bass and adds super heavy metal guitar riffing. Wolgers' and Håkansson create a lyrical dialogue and interesting variations between the verse / chorus and bridge construct as the melody recurs throughout but new elements piled up bringing the whole thing to an interesting chaotic crescendo where progressive touches kick in with time signature freakouts alongside tension inducing drones that ultimately end in a symphonic acoustic classical Paganini violin solo.

As the tracks continue they only get more interesting. "Lucy Fears The Morning Star" engages a Wagner-esque classical pomp, a heavy metal stomp and high C glass shattering vocal sublimeness from Wolgers. "Bedlam Sticks" has more of a cartoonish feel. Sorta like an Elvis Presley meets Dracula vocal style that cedes into a rather demented bouncy metal stomp. "New World Widows" finds a respite from the bombastic approach with a nice echoey clean guitar intro that cedes into another bouncy metal rocker with Wolger's diva vocals soaring like a white-winged dove. "Siberian Love Affairs" takes the Eastern Europe polka as a short interlude while "Vodka Inferno" continues another swinging metal stomp with some of the oom-pa-pa polka rhythms. "Memoirs Of A Roadkill" adopts a Django Reinhardt style of gypsy swing with exquisite guitar riffing but takes an unexpected Radiohead-esque alt rock turn. "Ricerca Dell'anima" implements a surf rock approach to adapt to the DSO way of doing things.

The album ends with the longest track "Stratosphere Serenade" that begins with a dynamic cello workout followed by some stellar metal guitar riffing. This is probably one of the more progressive tracks as it is a dialogue between the metal and classical elements with more varied time signatures than most tracks. Yet another track that sounds unlike the rest with many interesting movements within. The track climaxes with a lengthy fadeout of a recurring riff that speeds up. Quite the satisfying end of the demented journey. While being pegged as avant-garde metal, DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA should be considered to exist in their avant-garde world. The metal bombast is supplemental only to add a level of heaviness to the underlying swing jazz, gypsy folk, tango and classical elements.

This is experimental music in every possibly way and the ultimate statement of a 21st band that effortlessly amalgamates disparate 20th century genres. This is music nerd's paradise and pretty much designed for those who love the individual elements that went into it. Personally this is my sort of music and the dynamic catchy melodic hooks that SING ALONG SONGS FOR THE DAMNED AND DELIRIOUS means i get a lot of mileage out of this one. In fact, it's one of those albums that works on many levels. It is truly ear worm hook music that guarantees a pleasing melodic sing-along style experience while on a deeper level is super-sophisticated as it unleashes treasures upon multiple visiting experiences. While many avant-garde metal leaning bands have come and gone, none have so successfully pulled off what DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA achieved on their first two albums. As far as i'm concerned both are flawless examples of commingled creativity taken to the highest levels.

 Pacifisticuffs by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.17 | 95 ratings

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Pacifisticuffs
Diablo Swing Orchestra Progressive Metal

Review by Evolver
Special Collaborator Crossover & JR/F/Canterbury Teams

5 stars One of the finest albums of 2017!!!

This album was my first encounter with Diablo Swing Orchestra and they made quite an impression on me. I have since gone back and listened to most of their albums (and am now about halfway through purchasing hard copies). I understand that many of this band's fans are upset about Annlouice Loegdlund leaving the group, in my opinion, Kristin Evegard is an improvement. Her lyrics are intense and exciting, and her voice is like Kate Bush with an intense amount of attitude, easily moving from kittenish seduction to venomous vixen and back in a blink of an eye.

Musically, DSO somehow manages to weave countless different musical styles together seamlessly. In "Knucklehugs", they go from a standard rock anthem into a rollicking bluegrass romp, with a cello taking the usual fiddle solo. "Superhero Jagganath" (another song where Evegard excels) blends Nordic metal with Hawaiian sounding passages (some sung in an Elvis-inspired twang). "Jigsaw Hustle" starts with a disco riff, but breaks out into crunchy prog-metal riffs. The only song that comes close to a traditional modern swing orchestra sound is "Karma Bonfire", and guess what, they are fantastic at this as well.

My only complaint, however slight, is that I can't understand many of the lyrics, as some of them are drowned out by the delightfully bombastic instrumentation.

I can't imagine anyone who won't be blown away by this album.

 Pacifisticuffs by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.17 | 95 ratings

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Pacifisticuffs
Diablo Swing Orchestra Progressive Metal

Review by HarmonyDissonan

5 stars THIS HAS BEEN ONE OF MY FAVORITE ALBUMS THAT I'VE PICKED UP IN THE LAST COUPLE OF YEARS, EASILY!

And I've got a fairly substantial collection! So what is this album like? It would be too simple to describe it as Klezmer! That wouldn't do it justice! I would say it's got a Klezmer feel to a lot of the music within it, but there's so much more! I love the Brass, the keyboards and drums, the bass-the growling bass (my personal favorite portion of this many faceted album!) The male and female and 'grandpa' vocalists! The production value is outstanding! Although most of the music is very intricate, the quality production allows everything to be heard simultaneously. I also love the way the tempos are altered quite regularly within most of the individual tracks. It's a fun album! It's a very positive romp through a hodge-podge of stomping bliss! They intermingle seamlessly swing, jazz, classical and a touch of funk and some slight touches of down-home country bluegrass! Now if you're looking for something amazingly psychotic and to me truly inspired than look no farther, this is the album for you! It's mostly fairly hard driven, multi-personality laden music with a generous helping of brass! I love it, as well as the lyrics. Here's a taste from the opening song: Knucklehugs (Arm Yourselves With Love): ARM YOURSELVES BROTHERS AND SISTERS, ARM YOURSELVES WITH LOVE, STAND UP STRAIGHT, WALK TALL AND PROUD, TRANSCEND AND THEN RISE ABOVE. Personally I can't recommend this album enough, I just love it!

Take care and enjoy God's gift of music!

 Pacifisticuffs by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.17 | 95 ratings

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Pacifisticuffs
Diablo Swing Orchestra Progressive Metal

Review by kev rowland
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator

5 stars There are times when just the name of the band is enough to make the casual critic to become quite intrigued, and that is definitely the case with this Swedish octet. Eight musicians? Yep, and it isn't the line-up that one might expect from a rock band: Daniel H'kansson (guitars and vocals, Pontus Mantefors (guitars, FX and vocals), Kristin Eveg'rd (vocals and piano), Anders Johansson (bass), Johannes Bergion (cello and vocals), Martin Isaksson (trumpet and vocals), Daniel Hedin (trombone) and Johan Norb'ck (drums). In many ways this doesn't come across as a band, but something far more eclectic, as if it was a group of musicians performing a score for a Tim Burton movie. As a family we watched 'The Nightmare before Christmas', and some of the songs on here (especially 'Superhero Jagganath') could have been dropped into it and would have fitted incredibly well!

Since the start back in 2003 the band has defused the seriousness of everyday life with a humorous twist where everything is allowed. The musical framework is wide to say the least and DSO strive to constantly surprise and challenge their listeners: it is eclectic and rule-breaking, but somehow always makes total musical sense. The arrangements and melodies are unusual to say the least, but this is not out about being 'out there' just for the hell of it. This is music that is both compelling and always interesting. Since 2012's 'Pandora's Pi'ata' the band have taken the opportunity to reinvent themselves and approach their task with fresh eyes and ears. Annlouice L'gdlund left the band in 2014 to pursue her opera career, but new singer Kristin Eveg'rd has brought some serious new writing skills to the mix, both in the lyric departments as well as composing. It is also the first studio album for Johan Norb'ck, who joined the fold in 2012 for the touring of Pandora's Pi'ata: not many drummers have to wait five years to make their recording debut with a band, but he really has started with a bang.

Although it is possibly to call these guys progressive metal, the first word of that term in their case covers a huge amount of genres from swing to prog, incorporating some RIO and plenty of avant combining with musical theatre and soundtracks. At the beginning of 'Jigsaw Puzzle' the strings are so delicate that they could have been used in a James Stewart movie, before it morphs into disco ELO, yet all in a way that just works. This is not a band who are content to sit within a genre, and treat music as it is a living free thinking animal that is going to go its own way in the jungle. There may be times when it will follow a path that has already been created, if it happens to be going in the same direction, but it never stays on it for very long as there is way more fun to be had in the wilderness.

It is seriously like nothing else I have heard in the last year, during which time I have reviewed more than 600 albums of different genres, and that is a statement in itself. Superb.

 Pacifisticuffs by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2017
4.17 | 95 ratings

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Pacifisticuffs
Diablo Swing Orchestra Progressive Metal

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

5 stars Very few bands in the overcrowded world of progressive rock / metal manage to develop a highly unique and utterly original sound right from the start and even fewer manage to keep the legions of copycats from jumping on the bandwagon, but fourteen years after their formation, the bizarre avant-swing-symphonic-metal-rock group DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA still manages to exist in a musical universe all their very own. After long speculation of whether or not the band would continue after the departures of vocalist Annlouice Loegdlund and percussionist Petter Karlsson, the band kept the rumors at bay by declaring that they were still an active musical group yet somehow the years slipped by with no new album. Finally after a mere half decade DOS returns with their fourth album PACIFISTICUFFS. While originally slated for a 2016 release, the countless delays and technical difficulties in the mixing resulted in a year long delay from the original target. But at long last towards the end of 2017, the album has finally emerged and sounds exactly like what one would expect as a followup to their 2012 album "Pandora's Piñata."

As with all the DSO album, PACIFISTICUFFS is quite the sophisticated project that may not be apparent upon a casual listening experience. The band once again take the disparate elements of swing revival and symphonic prog rock as their main canvasses to paint upon but include the usual metal guitar riffs to add the extra heft albeit the latter are much less pronounced as opposed to their earlier heavy guitar-laden riffing. This album still retains all the DSO characteristics that came before but there are a lot more genre diversions as well. The most prominent of these is a heavy emphasis on Balkan gypsy folk rhythms and musical scales that add that polka-esque oom-paa-paa feel to much of the album. Some of the brass sections also carry a klezmer type of flavor at times and there are even parts that dip into Elvis Presley country-esque territory ("The Age Of Vulture Culture") and tango ("Cul-de-sac Semantics") as well as occasional banjo outbursts. The symphonic tracks are quite grand with lush violin and viola passages that make you forget you're listening to a rock based album at times. This is quite the assembly of musicians and contains a huge army of personal on board to bring about this album. There are not only eight members credited to be official members but an additional eleven musicians that add the touches of violin, viola, double bass, clarinet, tube, additional percussion and backing vocals. The production department is no less impressive.

While DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA gets lumped into the avant-garde metal camp, i have to emphasize that this is not really a metal band at all but an avant-garde swing revival band that just happens to incorporate aspects of metal into their overall sound. For those who only rely on the metal bombast to keep their interest, then PACIFISTICUFFS will surely disappoint because of the fact that the metal parts seem to play much less of a role this time around. True that tracks like "Superhero Jaggnath" have ample bursts of guitar riffing prowess but for the most part, this album is more of a silky smooth studio album that some may call overproduced and overweening in its pompous operatic outbursts that at their peak don't sound too far off from some of the zeuhl band Magma's most in-yer-face moments. Also as always, DSO focus their full force on over-the-top catchy melodies that become exaggerated by the pomp and awe of the many backing elements of swing, rock and symphony. Both newbies vocalist Kristin Evegård and drummer Johan Norbäck integrate perfectly into the band with Evegård sounding exactly like her predecessor in every possible way. On a side note, the non-album track "Jigsaw Hustle" which appeared in 2014 as a lone single has been rerecorded and shows the diverse palette expand even further into the disco revival world. The track reminds me a lot of ELO's "Out Of The Blue" era.

After only a couple listens to PACIFISTICUFFS, i'm utterly amazed at how well it all flows together so seamlessly where every little touch is disciplined and the puzzle pieces placed in a precise order in order to achieve the desired effect. All the delays in the mixing room were worth the wait as the production is absolutely crystal clear and instead of all the disparate instruments sounding like a big muddy mess, each has found its niche in the greater sonic picture as if a great conductor is hiding behind the scenes as to ensure that nobody jumps the gun and gets all jiggy on us. PACIFISTICUFFS will not win over any non-believers for sure. If anything it will scare off all but the most serious music nerds who are fans of the many genres on display here. For me, this album ranks as one of the band's most ambitious and taking the logical path of progression past 2012's "Pandora's Piñata." It's hard to know what to call this anymore since the tracks vary so much and no element dominates the soundscape for long. Not every track contains metal, nor swing nor symphonic chamber rock. Some contain all three but no matter which of these holds the reins at any particular moment, they are always accompanied by unexpected elements guided by memorable and captivating melodic developments. I do believe that DSO have proven that they are no mere novelty and that they have the chops to pull off some of the most mind-bending genre juggling there is to be heard.

4.5 rounded up

 The Butcher's Ballroom by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.94 | 161 ratings

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The Butcher's Ballroom
Diablo Swing Orchestra Progressive Metal

Review by Warthur
Prog Reviewer

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.

 The Butcher's Ballroom by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2006
3.94 | 161 ratings

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The Butcher's Ballroom
Diablo Swing Orchestra Progressive Metal

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!

 Borderline Hymns by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA album cover Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, 2003
3.22 | 8 ratings

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Borderline Hymns
Diablo Swing Orchestra Progressive Metal

Review by siLLy puPPy
Collaborator PSIKE, JR/F/Canterbury & Eclectic 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
3.99 | 187 ratings

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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.

5.6

Originally written for my Facebook page/blog: www.facebook.com/neoprogisbestprog

 Pandora's Piñata by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA album cover Studio Album, 2012
3.88 | 159 ratings

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Pandora's Piñata
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.
Thanks to The T for the artist addition. and to Quinino for the last updates

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