I don’t know how it happened, but a few years ago I stumbled upon a copy of “The Butcher’s Ballroom”, Diablo Swing Orchestra‘s (DSO) debut album and I was completely blown away. Up to that point if anybody would have told me that there was a band combining swing, opera and metal I would have simply laughed. The idea seems so ridiculous that it’s hard to believe that anybody would even try to do it, let alone that they’d make it work. Somehow, DSO managed to do it.
Diablo Swing Orchestra is probably the best example of what has been called “Avant Garde Metal”, a genre characterized by a mixture of sounds and styles. Without coming off as pretentious, DSO manages to combine everything under the sun, delivering a product that, without a doubt, is bigger than the sum of its elements.
Despite having set the bar very high with their previous albums, Pandora’s Piñata, the band’s latest release, has managed to, once again, demonstrate that they’re far from running out of ideas.
DSO’s combination is truly magnificent. The mixture doesn’t come off as disorganized or cacophonous, quite the opposite. Despite the unusual sound, DSO is as melodious as any “traditional” band, if not more (bands like Unexpect require much more time to get accustomed to the sound) which ensures its appeal to a wide audience.
Although you’ve probably listened to the delightful “Voodoo Mon amour” (the first and, so far, only track officially released by the band online) let me assure that the album only gets better. While songs like “Black Box Messiah” are all about the absolute manic insanity that must be responsible for this band, there’s something for everyone. From songs that Apocalyptica would envy (“How to Organize a Lynch Mob”) to soft and touching opera arias (“Aurora”)… with some Mexican and Spanish influences thrown in for good measure (“Guerrilla Laments” and “Kevlar Sweethearts”). The heavy side of things hasn’t been forgotten, with DSO delivering a powerful performance in “Exit Strategy of a Wrecking Ball” … and, well, much more.
“Justice for Saint Mary” requires a special mention. Some have called the last minute of the song a sign that DSO is “selling out” because of the similarities with dubstep. I have a hard time believing that this is the case. If anything, this is just another example of DSO just throwing everything into the mix and not trying to appeal to a larger audience by adopting a “popular” sound (hell, if that was the case I’m pretty sure they would have done it throughout the whole album and not at the very end!).
Do you like swing? Do you like jazz? Do you like surprises? Do you like cellos? Do you like opera? Do you like metal? do you like bullfighting music? Well, you can find all of that and more in this album. Without a doubt, this is a strong contestant to be the best album of the year.
Pandora’s Piñata is a breath of fresh air in a sea of generic music where artists seem to be running out of ideas. Without a doubt, Diablo Swing Orchestra has done it again. Do yourself a favor and get this album.
IMPORTANT: Back in 2007 DSO released “The Butcher’s Ballrom” online for free. You can still get it, absolutely legally, here