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Diablo Swing Orchestra - The Butcher's Ballroom CD (album) cover

THE BUTCHER'S BALLROOM

Diablo Swing Orchestra

 

Progressive Metal

3.92 | 182 ratings

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ExittheLemming
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 just another of metal's long winded fart jokes. Quirky and playful yes, but not a gimmick as Diablo Swing Orchestra display sufficient variety and original song writing throughout with which to absolve themselves of the canker of Gothic affectations. God that stuff's everywhere ain't it?: Black lipped shop assistants meeting occult tattooed insurance clerks for croissants over cappuccino in an HR Giger franchised cafe. Cosmetic morbidity is alive and kicking in the airbrushed ghettoes of the 'burbs.

Reviews themselves are hardly the place to debate classification but if this is 'Tech Extreme/Prog-Metal' then Russ Henderson and his Caribbean Boys might just be one of Zeuhl's most neglected groups. I like metal like a tooth loves drills, but have to say that I really enjoy this album thoroughly. It could be said that good song writing transcends all manner of stylistic interpretations and makes the latter practically invisible, to wit the Beatles Yesterday rendered on nose flute would have even the Mbuti People of Zaire tapping their spears appreciatively as they nibbled on the catchy nostrils. Similarly. I don't hear metal when listening to someone equally as accomplished as DSO (like Opeth), but just fabulous song writing and arranging skills.

Had Brian Setzer and Wagner attended a Transylvanian Conservatoire they may well have graduated with varying degrees of Operabilly: splicing together some rockabilly swinging beats with sumptuous diva arias wedded to gut wrenching metallic skulduggery that even Vlad the Impaler would have approved of. Relax, the singing on here makes that schoolgirl wannabe in Evanescence sound like Walter/Wendy Carlos before/after his/her balls dropped.

Was the chef who made the sickly fusion dessert dyslexic? What if the icing had been put beneath the cake by mistake all those years ago? i.e. Return to Forever/Weather Report/Mahavishnu Orchestra is horizontal rock and vertical jazz while Diablo Swing Orchestra is cookin' jazz grooves underneath an unequivocal rock vocabulary. Could this be the reason why so much of what we label jazzrock sounds as stiff as a 90 year old kitten and drier than a sun bathing anchovy? Disclaimer: This product has been thoroughly and rigorously tested and is guaranteed NOODLE FREE. Added to this intriguing juxtaposition are the classically trained tonsils of one Annlouice Loegdlund, whose contribution I think is crucial to the balance of power in this unlikely alliance of styles. If the foregoing were the sum of this band's abilities, things would get very stale very quickly but on the Butcher's Ballroom they display a wide compass of influences and invention. Like myself, these Swedes are suckers for North African scales and tonality which they sprinkle with some Spanish garnish into much of their playing to thrilling effect.The heavy riffing and operatic vocal elements are carefully economised and used sparingly, by use of counterbalancing acoustic guitar, flute, cello, violin, ethnic esoterica and conventional 'throat' singing episodes for textural and dynamic contrast.

If I have any reservations about the Butcher's Ballroom they would probably be restricted to the band's weakness for borderline kitsch in places when DSO stray into rather twee Turkish 'lounge punk' territory (Whatever that is, but you get the general idea)

Those pious iconoclasts in the Church of Shiny Gloom are cordially invited by DSO to go to hell, as contrary to popular belief, they prove you can swing a cat in there.(and Diablo's don't sell croissants)

ExittheLemming | 4/5 |

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