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Diablo Swing Orchestra - Sing-Along Songs For The Damned & Delirious CD (album) cover

SING-ALONG SONGS FOR THE DAMNED & DELIRIOUS

Diablo Swing Orchestra

Progressive Metal


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Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Errors and Omissions Team
4 stars This music is absolutely (well, I long thought about proper word and finally decided to say just) crazy. Old swing orchestra with Latin rhythms, cabaret like (The Dear Hunter combined with heavy prog sounding), absolutely fast and insane combination, which somehow works. Really, I don't know how can all these ingredients exist one next to another, work together and sound so well (reminding me System of a Down at times, with Serj's emotive and humorous, mocking style (all this stuff connected with evening dress and cylinders - or top hats if you wish). There is also waltz rhythm sometimes, so beware those who love it in rock music. Did I say rock ? I meant rock / metal, I'm not sure which of them is majority, perhaps metal, but they're changing sides regularly. Maybe it's just me, maybe I'm hearing ghosts, but I can see Russian influence here, these old folklore songs from Russian culture heritage. Just very little, but it's here.

4(-) for playful music. Not masterpiece, but very good. Unfortunately, can be quite boring after repeated listening, but it depends on current mood of course.

Report this review (#241049)
Posted Wednesday, September 23, 2009 | Review Permalink
ExittheLemming
PROG REVIEWER
4 stars Strum and Kerrang - The Three Euro Opera

As you can tell from the lame pun in my review's title, I can't seem to dislodge entirely the connections between this record and that of the dramaturgy of Bertold Brecht and the musical theatre of Kurt Weill. DSO are unashamedly northern European (Swedish to boot) and even when appropriating the strong jazz influence imbued in so much of their work, the flavour is unmistakably that of the 1920's 'decadent set' Weimar Republic brand. Similarly, their forays into metallic textures obey to the letter the charges set forth by any House Committee on Un-American activities. Way to go lads (and ladette)

A Tap Dancer's Dilemma - I had cause to suggest in my review of The Butcher's Ballroom that the band's portrayed image may give rise to lazy associations somewhat akin to Cab Calloway covering death metal. Well DSO have clearly decided that I should have to rue those badly chosen words post haste. This is a highly adulterated and wantonly perverse take on the sort of Big Band jazz that the Hi De Ho Man, Louis Jordan and Gene Krupa excelled at. Combining a visceral metallic guitar to some authentic swinging ensemble horn playing is no easy feat yet DSO pull this off here. Just sit back and luxuriate in the galloping Django Reinhardt on 'wacky dust' acoustic guitar at its centre and if you ain't smiling hereabouts, then presumably you still await the emergence of the world's first Gothic stand up comedian. (Don't hold your breath pale-face)

A Rancid Romance - Punningly alludes to the venerable Jerome Kern song A Fine Romance as if such were about to be defiled by the Hanna-Barbera of metal, Cannibal Corpse. It is clear that DSO take great delight in undermining both their and our perception of themselves as torch bearers through the state of the art gloom of Gothic mood lighting. Together with Alex Harvey's reading of Jacques Brel's Next, this is probably the 'other' most credible tango in 'rawk' to date. Borderline avant in places and perhaps indicative of the way ahead for this band's future direction. Great use of contrasting dynamics and pace exemplified by the plaintive and haunting chamber string writing that follows from the crunchy metal riffing.

Lucy Fears the Morning Star - Lucifer from the New Testament can be translated as 'light bearer' aka 'day star' as in the 'morning star' (you get my pentagram metalheads?.STOP) A rather clumsy pun but no reflection on a very fine song that undergoes several changes of mood and intensity with no discernible dips in the excitement throughout. Rather unnerving effects are ladled on the spoken vocals which imbue same with a creepy effect not dissimilar to a toddler wielding a chainsaw in response to the babysitter's entreaties to put them to bed. Towards the end DSO even embark on a percussion fuelled Latin salsa episode which (I can hear you retching already) is actually damn nifty and mercifully, consigns Gloria Estefan to the infernal regions where she and her flouncy sleeved ilk belong.

Bedlam Sticks - Is there a mental health theme hereabouts? Bedlam being a modernised corruption of Bethlehem via the Bethlem lunatic asylum in Victorian era London. For the fee of one penny visitors were allowed to bring long sticks with which to poke and torment the inmates.(and people say the lyrics of Karn Evil 9 are far-fetched) Daniel Hakansson's vocals utilise speaking on pitch and remind me in places of Einar from the Sugar Cubes, while the female background injections sound uncannily like those of Linda Blair during the sunnier parts of The Exorcist. It's surface amusing so I'm laughing, but somewhat apprehensively (after all it might turn out to be Bjork).

New World Widows - Lulls us momentarily into an Algerian Paint it Black cod medieval raga type 'thang' before whammo, 'cartoon style' DSO explode into metal chuggerama over which they turn the Garden of Eden entirely on it's head by weaving a snake charmer melody (but delivered by the serpent to seduce some credulous Eve?) God that Annlouice Loegdlund has lungs like pistons. 5 minutes in the company of this gal is like going 12 rounds in the ring with Wagner and a referee who speaks only Northern African dialect and can't count past 9. Thrilling, unnerving,a hopeless mis-match but you don't want to throw in the towel.(Does anyone on PA have her phone number? I think I'm in love)

Siberian Love Affairs - A tantalising but rather teasing little coquette of hallucinogenic fairground waltz music as if sung by stoned cossacks. Take a look at the cover and fill in the blanks as best you can. The perfect drinking song until....

Vodka Inferno - (Whoops) this one, a truly intoxicating cocktail of Weill, Brecht and punk speed-ball featuring some coruscating cello devilment from Johannes Bergion who clearly thinks dervish music is habitually played waaay too slow. Such is the resilience of this traditional sounding melodic invention, that some smart and ambitious new nation from the post Soviet empire should promptly adopt this as their national anthem. It would certainly scare the shorts off the opposition before football matches.

Wolfgang, we're losing three nil !

I'm sorry Gunter, I just can't get that damn wonderful tune out of my head

Memoirs of a Roadkill - Vaguely redolent of the Violent Femmes albeit with a clearly agitated Django Reinhardt sitting in front of some Cramps sheet (metal) music. Ends rather incongruously with some stark and atmospheric nylon classical guitar. Very beautiful and equisitely played yes, but this reeks of pinning the donkey to a tail.

Ricerca Dell'anima - Billy Idol meets surf guitar springs to mind on a crack addictive tune where Annlouice segues seamlessly from angelic soprano diva to kerbside Jezebel in the one breath. Nice subtle use of cello to undermine the surface 'rawk' artifices and a stunning clarinet solo which could be Klezmer as envisioned by Benny Goodman. This song is brilliantly constructed and might just be the best on the album.The title may translate as Quest of the Soul ? Suffice it to say if I heard this on the radio, I would rush out and buy the critter. Praise indeed from someone who is reluctant to even get out the bath for a pee.

Stratosphere Serenade - David Cross style eastern inflected violin riff sets the scene before a beautifully arranged song is revealed in very skilfully composed discrete sections. The rejoinder hook is the:This world is closing in refrain which returns periodically to memorable effect. Quite possibly the most overtly proggy track on offer as DSO dispense with their normal stylistic reference points and inhabit perhaps for the first time, a sonic landscape upon which they can plant their Swedish flag without any hint of self consciousness. The closing instrumental section exploits a digital delay on the guitar to set up a cascading rhythm utilising another middle eastern scale under which an irresistible pedal point is deployed in the bass end. Might be in danger of overstaying it's welcome a smidgen but let's not be churlish shall we?

DSO certainly walk a very fine line with their chosen milieu and although there always exists the danger that witty assimilation of influences is but a demi semi quaver away from twee pastiche and the realm of camp, they somehow avoid these traps with admirable consistency. The boyish blasphemies of those crude little runts that inhabit so much of the metal domain are absent entirely herein and one of the things I love most about this band is their refusal to take themselves too seriously. (So they don't feel the need to declare a fatwa on all things soft and fluffy in our midst). Also mercifully alien to this music is the sort of fretboard and meter wankery so beloved of the infant school of mathematical composition. Who you gonna call? Chopbusters !

I just know that these Swedes have at least one 5 star masterpiece in their locker and can only hope that they continue to entertain me in the course of hooking said critter out in the years to come.

Report this review (#244867)
Posted Friday, October 16, 2009 | Review Permalink
jampa17
PROG REVIEWER
5 stars When creativity meets brilliancy...

Diablo Swing Orchestra brought out their second album in 2009. After the craziness and the originality of the first album, the band had a high standard to match or beat. And without a doubt, this is a definitive album of the last decade. When the prog-metal is taken to a complete new and original level, with a little degree of excess, but not in the technical way but in the saturated style gathering many different influences.

This album should be checked by all the persons who enjoy music. The musicians are capable to play in a very wide range of styles summoning tap, jazz, boogie, Spanish guitars, rock, metal and operatic voices in a very dynamic route. You can expect everything but boringness in this album. You will be surprised over and over again by these eclectic songs and you can get the idea of music very well done but with a little spicy taste of joking and fun. These musicians are a great example of doing things in a funny way, you can enjoy with them through all this different passages and textures of the songs.

Maybe is too much for the regular people. But if you can tolerate the operatic voices, you will need no more guide than your senses to enjoy such a great vibe and atmosphere. You have to come to this album expecting everything, there's no tabus or limitations. But don't be fooled, this is not technical extreme music, is more prog-eclectic metal, tough to classify but you can be sure, this is maybe one of the best masterpieces of the last decade.

A great example of originality and creativity in a age that seems to be flooded in mediocrity and plagiarism. 5 stars for sure...

Report this review (#265107)
Posted Tuesday, February 9, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Keeping up the craziness

As far as genre blending and eclectic composing goes, this second endeavor of DSO keeps going in the same direction as its predecessor. The songs are presented in a somewhat more organized manner, as each song is representing a new country of inspiration according to the DVD promo clip released on the 2 disc edition of SASFTD&D. The songs are appointed Russia, Germany, France, Spain and UK as thematic backdrop for their composition. This only comes off clearly in the tracks A Rancid Romance (Spain) and Vodka Inferno (Russia) though. Incidentally, these are also the two strongest tracks on the album. As far as melodies goes this album is a bit harder to get into than their debut, and normally this is a good sign. But when I first got the melodies under my skin I was already bored with them. This might be due to the more typical song structure on this album. It is basically intro-verse-chorus on all the songs. Their debut had a more climactic structure on most of its songs. The before mentioned A Rancid Romance maintain this trend of their debut album, but all over the songs tend to unfold in a more standard manner. The choice of inspirational influences is still one of DSO's strongest and most original features. And it works very well on this album as well. The nice new touch of Russian folk tunes in Vodka Inferno is evidence of development and new thinking even within the DSO universe. Still, I will maintain that a more challenging structure of the songs would make them more interesting. The song do have overall good melodies though, but the female vocals seems to be a bit more toned down on this album. A plus is of course that this let their male vocalist show his talents to a greater degree. His voce suits the music perfectly and adds even more diversity to an already extremely diverse band. An underdog suggestion track vise would be the bluesy Ricerca Dell' Anima and its awesome solo work. Allover this album is also really good, but I would rank their debut one star higher. Just because I am still not bored with that album. Favorite tracks on Sing-Along Songs... are the three previously mentioned by name tracks. A good album, just not as long lasting as The Butchers Ballroom. This second album has perhaps got a more mainstream feel to the composition of the songs, if that can even be used as a descriptive term when it comes to DSO.

Report this review (#277160)
Posted Saturday, April 10, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars DSO is a group that has an interesting and "hell" story, a very sound alternative and not easily classified as the proposal is to mix elements from several styles, at least show that no prejudice. The musicians master their instruments with leftovers and this is evidenced by the versatility of them. The bases of the band are always heavy guitars mixing element called skacore (first track) and go sliding through acoustic bass with the tango while violins and metals give the sauce into the mix. Ok, I can not leave out the talent of its lead singer who inspired the musicians at the opera suggests inclusion of pieces of classical music as "Swan Lake". Quote everything that goes into this salad music is complicated, because sin can we at some point and leave aside some style! When you think that there will be repetition of something, then comes a Latin rhythm hand percussion added feature of the same region, involving interpretations verging on a musical. as you listen closely, it seems that they spent time with System of Down, that is evident both in riffs as the vocals again. Well, as we're talking about a band "Heavy" we can not perceive influences from bands "Heavy" with amazing vocals and keyboards. What is worth mentioning in the group and the disk in question is that despite such a mix that make the songs sound the same as being "of the album and how the history of their descendants that generation continues to mesmerize with their songs.
Report this review (#280777)
Posted Friday, May 7, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars As a big fan of both metal and jazz, this band holds a lot of appeal to me. Even their name was enough to inspire my interest: Diablo Swing Orchestra. Sounds like a melding of three wonderful, albeit theoretically incompatible, genres. As is turns out, there is more than just that to DSO.

Right off the bat the opener, "A Tap Dancer's Dilemma", reminds me of a great swing song I played with my school's jazz band this year. The "jungle" beat on the tom lends a very energetic feel to this song, and the energy doesn't let up through to its completion. The vocals on this track, in my opinion, are the best on the album; very intersting and distinct voices are used, to great effect. There are beautiful travelling bass lines for most of the tune, one of my favourite things about swing music. The acoustic fills are tasty beyond belief. Like fried chicken, they are simultaneously greasy and fantastic. The first time I heard the first acoustic section, flowing into the bass groove afterwards, it practically exploded my brain it was so perfect. "A Tap Dancer's Dilemma" is unbelievably catchy, easily the easiest song to listen to on this album.

Next, we have "A Rancid Romance." While I can appreciate the creativity behind it, the latin feel does not seem to meld with the metal influence as seamlessly as with the swing/boogie of track 1. I do, however, love both opera vocals and upright bass. I find that this song gets worthwhile around 1:29 when the bowed bass and toms come in. From there until the end of the bowed bass fill (2:06) is the highpoint of this track. Overall, this tune doesn't maintain my interest as thoroughly as most of the others on Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious. The "break down" does not sound very good to me, and the gentle strings ending is beautiful but feels out of place.

"Lucy Fears the Morning Star" is a song that I didn't fully appreciate on my first listen through, but it has really grown on me. The brass and timpani intro is just wonderful. This great track is very unique, and it excellently exemplifies a tension build/release cycle. The clean guitar and violin fills are all perfectly placed and executed. The percussion and horn section starting from 4:45 changes the feel in a good way. "Lucy Fears..." starts strong and gets better and better to a lucratively thrilling ending. The trumpet and upright duel is simply stunning; bravo!

"Bedlam Sticks" might actually be somewhat scary were it not so inherently silly. A fiendishly delightful romp about a cookie, this is definitely a standout track. And that is one hella-powerful sung note at the end.

Other than the cool delayed guitar intro, and the heavily layered acoustic interlude, "New World Widows" is one of the weaker and less remarkable songs on this album. The vocals don't feel as tight/cohesive with the track as others; feels like a filler track, but that might just be because I don't like it. The ending is uninspired.

"Siberian Love Affairs" is definitely filler, although interesting. It really establishes a mood.

"Vodka Inferno" is another track where the beginning is the weakest part (although by no means is it bad), and it gets better and better as it proceeds. The lyrics seem somewhat cliché'd, but I don't pay much attention to that anyway. The harmonized chorus is lovely, and the breakdown brings some genuinely kick-ass metal riffs, followed by fantastic interplay between the guitar and violin (or is that a viola?). The 'words so tender...' line is gorgeous, with a pretty acoustic strings background and very emotional sounding vocals. Then, there's some polka-style bass later; and, me being a tuba player, there's not much that I like more than polka-bass!

Musically, "Memoirs of a Roadkill" is so wrong, but so, so right. The bass and guitar riff combinations are downright odd, but they definitely grow on you. After the brief vocal "solo", ~1:30, the bass and guitar chord fragment parts that come back in almost sound like a jazzed up version of Primus' "Hamburger Train." The acoustic soloing is very tasteful. A minute long free-form classical guitar solo closes off this track on a very pretty note. This may be my favourite song from this album.

"Ricerca Dell'anima" annoys me right off the bat, with that single-note guitar "solo." Then, the surf riffing cheers me up a bit, then the woman's vocals, which don't seem as strong here as on any of the other songs, annoy me again, and then the rest of the tune does nothing for me. This one is weak overall, but at least the last 20 seconds are cool, with a rippin' fiddle shred.

The closer, "Stratosphere Serenade", grabs my attention right off the start, but gradually loses it. It's a good track but not terribly remarkable, and it lasts a little too long to remain exciting. Also, what kind of an ending for an album is that, a fadeout that lasts almost a minute? Well, it does it's job well enough, and being the only significant fade it stands apart from the endings of other tracks.

I really can't see anyone singing along with these Sing Along Songs, but listening to and enjoying them, certainly. It's almost a shame the album opener is so dizzyingly fine, much of the rest pales slightly in comparison.

Overall, I prefer Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious to Diablo Swing Orchestra's debut The Butcher's Ballroom. One gripe I have about it is that the snare drum has more of a "heavy metal" tone to it, similar to those of Chris Adler and Mike Portnoy, and I would rather hear a looser, jazzier sounding snare like on their debut. It is, however, nice to hear more male singing on this album than the previous, lending more variety to the vocals.

Best tracks: Tap Dancer's Dilemma, Lucy Fears the Morning Star, Bedlam Sticks, Memoirs of a Roadkill

I could do without: New World Widows, Siberian Love Affairs, Ricerca Dell'anima

Report this review (#282713)
Posted Wednesday, May 19, 2010 | Review Permalink
Bonnek
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
3 stars Sweden's answer to Alamaailman Vasarat? Or else, Therion gone avant?

The album's formula is quite familiar. With its mix of jazz, operetta, avant-rock, folk with metal guitars it reminds me a lot of Alamaailman Vasarat. Due to the operatic vocals also Therion comes to mind, be it an incarnation of Therion in a Kletzmer-avant mood. As a final reference I have to mention Kaizer's Orchestra, that Norwegian noise-indie-polka-rock band that merges similar influences. Diablo Swing Orchestra is decisively more operatic and heavy metal though.

Just like Alamaailman Vasarat and Therion this sounds like one endless gimmick to me: the mix of styles is fun, but the songwriting is not remarkable enough to keep me engaged for 50 minutes. The poppy verse-chorus singalong songs are simply too average for that. I also don't hear much sincere emotion, intensity or originality in any of this. But it's sure fun for a couple of songs.

A nice album, but if I want challenging heavy-avant-kletzmer-rock I'll listen to the much superior Kaizer's Orchestra, not this operatic poppy-metal variation. 2.5 stars, upped as the album left me in quite a cheerful mood.

Report this review (#305200)
Posted Monday, October 18, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars Not many albums out there like this one. This album has an astounding amount of creativity and uniqueness to it. They venture into grounds other metal bands don't dare tread by fusing their music with genres some would never expect to find in metal.

The genres these people incorporate into their metal are swing music, jazz, and circus music to name a few. And they let it be known right off the getgo, with an opening track that sounds like dance music for demons. The compositions on this album each have their own unique charm and are filled with huge amounts of energy and somewhat whimsicality.

And for something so unique and weird, it is very easy to get into as well, especially A Tap Dancer's Dilemma, whom I've shown to multiple non-prog fans who got enjoyment out of it. It is by no means poppy or generic though.

Of course, it's not a perfect album. I feel it lacks a real standout track, as it all just kind of floats along. There is also "Bedlam Sticks", which is quite an annoying song I find, with silly lyrics about cookies and it's the only song I find the vocals grate.

Still, the entire album is guaranteed to be an interesting experience for any first time listeners, and it doesn't take a metalhead to appreciate this one either.

Report this review (#432842)
Posted Wednesday, April 13, 2011 | Review Permalink
4 stars Part cartoon, part live action, the steampunk 'Addams Family' meets 'Corpse Bride' film is complete but now needs a sound track. The producers have Trans-Siberia Orchestra, Epica and Madder Mortem lined up to perform the music, which has been written by Devin Townsend. Or they save themselves all that time and expense, and use this album instead.

I was expecting this to be a difficult album to listen to, but it really isn't. It's highly melodic and the quirky bits make sense in the context of the album. Look at the cover art .. if it looks intriguing to your eyes, then I pretty much guarantee you'll love this music. If you don't care for the films or bands I mention in the first paragraph, then save your money.

I'll give this 4 stars for now. If it has legs and doesn't grow stale after a dozen listens, then I'll upgrade to 5 stars. I can't tell if it is the band's novelty or genius that makes me smile like a loon as I listen, but I get the overwhelming urge to strap myself into a pair of ridiculous Goth boots and summon Cthulhu, with the opening chords. Should music be this much fun? Damn straight!

Report this review (#437994)
Posted Saturday, April 23, 2011 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#1038517)
Posted Wednesday, September 18, 2013 | Review Permalink
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

Report this review (#1281817)
Posted Monday, September 22, 2014 | Review Permalink
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.

Report this review (#2038231)
Posted Tuesday, September 25, 2018 | Review Permalink
Kempokid
COLLABORATOR
Prog Metal Team
4 stars While Diablo Swing Orchestra's The Butcher's Ballroom was very much was I expected from a band with such an identity, being quirky gothic rock in the vein of Aurelio Voltaire on steroids, with a more metal oriented sound, while also encompassing a wide variety of genres into the music. This album however, is what I was hoping to hear, being far more bombastic and insane than their first album, with more focus on straight up metal to complement the wide range of styles undertaken, leading to a much louder, more heavy album overall. I personally find it to be a big step up in essentially every way to their debut, being heavier, more entertaining, much more bizarre, and most of all, a lot more consistent.

Just like with their debut, simply classing this as swing metal would be quite an understatement, as while the big band sound does appear in quite a number of tracks, other styles such as tango, mariachi, or just straight up prog metal all bleed through, providing great deals of eclecticism to the album. While there are many songs which employ heavy use of this big band style, the opener, A Tapdancer's Dilemma is definitely my favourite of them. The song is simply brimming with energy and insanity, with even the soft moments containing a latent manic bombast to them, accentuated by the wonderful guitar and bass, switching between heavy riffing and restrained staccato. The vocals are also wonderfully out there in general, now the male vocals being just as insane and dramatic, providing an even more strange tone to everything. Another example of this incredible energy is the bouncy, unhinged Bedlam Sticks, whic along with being another song that just never sits still, makes things even more wild with the inclusion of various bizarre voices chanting the chorus, sounding like a pack of small demonic creatures of some sort. Of the 10 songs, 7 of them are an absolute joy to listen to, and one of them is a short interlude, all of which I'd mostly say similar things about, with a couple of exceptions (which I'll get to in a bit). However, there are two songs that don't quite click with me in the same way, Memoirs of A Roadkill and Ricerca Dell'Anima. While neither of these are bad songs by any stretch, Memoirs feels like the one experiment on the album that doesn't quite pan out, without anything appropriately strange to fit in with everything else on the album, causing it to feel somewhat unneeded. Ricerca Dell'Anima I have less of an issue with, but I simply find it to be less impressive all around, lacking the same kind of impact as the others both in terms of composition and execution, having less memorable memories along with a less interesting performance on the whole.

There are two songs on the album which I do find to be very clear highlights, both being more prog metal oriented than the other tracks and using the extra genres as an addition to heighten the experience. This shows the avenue in which the band could further grow and improve. The first of these songs is Lucy Fears the Morning Star, which has an amazing trumpet buildup that then completely blasts everything away as extremely groovy, heavy guitar riffs make their way in, before softening and becoming more of an eerie creeping sensation rather than stomping around. I love the frenetic breaks in the melody where the cellos weave their way through. As the song slowly rises in power, more powerful riffs make their way in, overpowering everything as the listener feels completely obliged to lose themselves within the rhythm. This repeats once more through, being somewhat more powerful this second time however, and vocal distortions mimicking a small child becoming even more prominent, not to mention unnerving. After this, out of nowhere, the song completely shifts gears and goes full mariachi, which initialliy I wasn't the keenest on, but now I honestly couldn't imagine the song being so great without this fun way to end it. The other song that I find hits all marks spectacularly is the closing piece, Stratosphere Serenade, starting off displaying an incredibly majesty to it, with the cello and guitar playing off each other perfectly, before they both properly kick off, the cello leading with an almost mournful tone to it. One thing I noticed almost immediately was the presence of the more standard male vocals, a big change from basically the entirety of the album, which I find works incredibly here for what feels like a somewhat more serious song. Everyting about this first half of the song feels far more subdued than anything else the album presents, which works perfectly both for an album closer, and then completely catching the listener off guard with the masterful second half. Just over halfway through the song, everything cuts and fades out, only to be replaced with a futuristic sound in the form of a repeated riff with heavy amounts of alteration to the base sound, heavy reverb and the like in the background, and then the song just builds. It continues adding all the elements to it and then continuing to tweak elements here and there, adding sound effects, taking others away, slightly altering various elements of the outro as the fast faced guitar and drums continue repeating. This section is by far my favourite part of the entire album, and caps it off superbly.

Overall, I far prefer this album to the first, as it expands upon all the things done right and then ups the insanity tenfold. Almost every song here works absolutely perfectly, being intensely fun and infectoius, the catch being almost all, which is the one issue I do have with this album, that there are 2 songs in a row that damage the flow of the album to some extent, which is fortunately saved by the fact that Stratosphere Serenade is just so great. Overall, I would recommend this album to anyone who likes some stranger stuff that also knows what fun is, as while not the most complex album, it's definitely extreme amounts of fun.

Best songs: A Tapdancer's Dilemma, Lucy Fears The Morning Star, Stratosphere Serenade

Weakest songs: Memoirs of A Roadkill, Ricerca Dell'Anima

Verdict: Extremely fun almost all the way through, and a must listen for anyone who like quirky, heavy music, as this is definitely very well executed in that regard.

Report this review (#2171246)
Posted Friday, April 5, 2019 | Review Permalink

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