This is the first of a weekly look (or listen, to use a better phrase) at the world of music. You won’t find any specific genre in these reviews, and each week I’ll focus on a particular album, be that from the recent past or from the far reaches of music history and legacy! I’m kicking things off with Diablo Swing Orchestra’s latest mish-mash of genres – the outstanding "Pandora’s Piñata"
Album: Pandora’s Piñata
Artist: Diablo Swing Orchestra (DSO)
Release Date 14th May 2012
Country of Origin Sweden
Diablo Swing Orchestra have always been able to create a melting-pot of sound, forging an unlikely half-breed of Swing & Heavy Metal. Strange combination I know, but it works… to varying degree. Songs like “Balrog Boogie” (from their album The Butcher’s Ballroom) and “A Tapdancer’s Dilema” (from the album Sing-Along Songs For The Damned…) feature a blast-wave of hard rock riffs mixed with interludes of brass instumentation. Both of these tracks have outstanding vocals performed by the band’s three main singers and a a leading celo that seems to give DSO their unique sound.
What let DSO’s albums down in the past was their tendency to go a little off track with some of their songs. One example being the song “A Rancid Romance” (Sing-Along Songs For The Damned) which starts very promisingly and strays awkardly into a Tango-style scream-fest. Not to mention the downright bizarre “Vodka Inferno”. DSO’s talent alway lay within the songs where they had managed to blend the genre’s seamlessly. But sadly in some songs the listener is very aware of where one style of music ends and another begins.
And this leads me on to the reason why Pandora’s Piñata is my Album of The Week. Released last month, the album combines all the successful elements of the bands past successes, but also breaks into brand new territory. And it does this with incredible grace and precision. It seems DSO have finally found the missing pieces of their puzzle!
As the name suggests, Pandora’s Piñata features a heavy Hispanic influence. Whether this was a conscious decision due to the band’s immense popilarity in South America is unknown. But it works, extremely well.
The album opens with the track Voodoo Mon Amour. Lyrically this is one of the strongest songs DSO have ever written, tackling the theme of sex with a clever little occult undercurrent. The song bounces a fast-paced swing rhythm focusing heavily on the percussion. All three vocalists stand out uniquely. An extremely-well put together track.
Guerilla Laments follows suit with a Latin American fusion, where as Kevlar Sweethearts a slower ballad with pounding chorus that makes best use of the band’s brass elements.
How To Organise a Lynch Mob is as 0:58 second long cello interlude which brings a subtle tranquility to the album. It leads almost instantly onto the majestic mind-fuck that is Black-Box Messiah. This a crazy and bizarre track complete with helium-like vocals, but again is a very well arranged piece of music.
For the metal-heads, there is the song Exit Strategy of A Wrecking Ball. Which blends seamlessly into a beatiful orchestral piece in the middle. The listener is forced into a limbo between the extremes of Metal, Electronica and Classical. Classical being a sound that is carried over to the next track Aurora, an amazing operatic piece that showcases vocalist Annlouice Loegdlund’s amazing voice.
Mass Rapture uses a mix of Indian and continental instrumentation. Probably my least favourite of the tracks on this album as I find it slightly repetitive.
Now you might be thinking that the band couldn’t squeeze another genre in there right? Wrong. Honey Trap Aftermath introduces Funk into the equation. Strange right, not what you were expecting but impressively it fits amazingly well into the rest of the Album.
Back to the craziness, the song Of Kali Ma Calibre screams of with a mixtrure of Thrash Metal and Militarism. It’s introduction seems almost like an excerpt from a Nobuo Uematsu arrangement. Theatrical and fierce.
The album winds down with the acoustic medley that is Justice For Saint Mary. The vocals are smoothly interwined with the the brass section, and has probably my favourite melody of the whole album. In true DSO style there is one last twist. The end of the song jitters to a close on an extreme Dub-Step epilogue.
So there is it, my Album Of The Week. Any thoughts are welcome, If I’ve made any factual errors about band members, misspelled names or instrumentation, please get in touch.
Until next time,