Diablo Swing Orchestra – Pandora’s Piñata

Diablo Swing Orchestra

Pandora’s Piñata

1. Voodoo Mon Amour
2. Guerilla Laments
3. How to Organize a Lynch Mob
4. Kevlar Sweethearts
5. Black Box Messiah
6. Exit Strategy of a Wrecking Ball
7. Aurora
8. Honey Trap Aftermath
9. Mass Rapture
10. Of Kali Mi Calibre
11. Justice for Saint Mary

[06/22/12]
[Candlelight Records/Sensory Records]

“The Diablo Swing Orchestra dates back to 1501 in Sweden, where history tells the tale of an orchestra that played like no other. With music so seductive and divine that the ensemble overwhelmed audiences all over the country, and people from all social classes took them to their hearts. Their performances rapidly earned a reputation of being feral and vigorous and gained the orchestra a devoted crowd that followed them around.”

This tale is the origin of Diablo Swing Orchestra‘s unique name. And for a band with such an eclectic, aggressive style, it befits them very well. For those unaccustomed to this Swedish group, they play a very unique mix of metal, classical, and jazz. They are an octet, which includes traditional metal instrumentation (with female vocals), as well as cello, trumpet, and trombone. Perhaps their closest contemporary is Canadian group UneXpect. After two successful albums, they have developed a very strong following in Europe and South America. Will their third album continue their success?

The first two tracks are without question the most important tracks on an album for me. The first track sets the stage, and can easily make or break an album. The second track proves that the album is here to last, and that the first track isn’t the lone moment of greatness.  DSO clearly share my view on this topic, and have put two of their best songs, “Voodoo Mon Amour” and “Guerilla Laments“, at the head of the album. “Voodoo Mon Amour” is an absolute rocker, sounding like a modern version of big band swing charts of the 40’s and 50’s. “Guerilla Laments” switches the tone from a swing feel to a decidedly more latin feel, while keeping intact its sheer intensity, which doesn’t let up for the majority of the album.

Perhaps one of the more unique qualities of the album is the operatic power of lead vocalist Annlouice Loegdlund. She has to have been classically trained, as she has extreme range (both high and low), flawless vibrato, and a booming quality that you just don’t hear often. Guitarist Daniel Håkansson also sings quite a bit on this album, and to me, has a technique and quality similar to Matthew Bellamy of Muse on some songs, and having his own sound on others. The balance of Annlouice and Daniel’s vocals is very good, and when they work together on parts, it’s an absolutely memorable experience.

Another unique quality that the album has is it’s inclusion of the unique instruments aforementioned. This band has found ways to include this seamlessly into the band, whereas most bands include strange instruments so they can stand out, but don’t really do anything with it. I really cannot imagine this album without it. Trumpet player Martin Isaksson has simply astounding range and tonal control, and trombone player Daniel Hedin keeps a strong rhythm, and can mirror the trumpet with ease. And last but not least, cellist Johannes Bergion gives an astounding performance, augmenting numerous parts, as well as giving a beautiful solo in “How to Organize a Lynch Mob“.  All of the members put on a captivating performance on their respective instruments, and it sounds like the chemistry between them is very high.

Perhaps the quality that I appreciate so much is the variation that this album provides. No track sounds the same, because each track shows off a different side of DSO. From the J-rock sounding “Black Box Messiah“, the carnival-from-hell “Of Kali Mi Calibre“, and the operatic piece “Aurora“, it is so easy to stay interested in this album simply because you’ll be so enthralled in the idea of what may come next. I could very well tell you all what they accomplish on this 52 minute record, but I welcome all of you to be surprised, like I was, at what they accomplish. This is probably my favorite album of the year thus far, and it’s going to take an absolute behemoth of a record to top it. Well done, Diablo Swing Orchestra. Well done.

Diablo Swing Orchestra – Pandora’s Pinata gets

5/5

– GR

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