Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Diablo Swing Orchaestra - Pandora's Pinata (2012)

Thank you to my brother for this delightful CD. It is truly a gorgeous little package and definitely quirky and weird - the kind of music I love (along with Heavy Metal, that is). This is going to be a hard album to categorise and will be a fun one to review. No two tracks are alike!

The Diablo Swing Orchaestra are a Swedish Octet. According to wikipedia (and their website) - Ancestors of their band performed in historic Sweden in defiance of the ruling religious beliefs of the time, forcing them to go into hiding. They would put on clandestine performances to the peasants and eventually had a bounty put on their heads and decided to put on a spectacular final show before being matyred by the church.

The packaging is beautiful - it's a digipack, which always look neat but never fit in my CD rack, and thus must languish in an unsteady pile beside it, on the coffee table. However, instead of being a flimsy cardboard affair, this is a solid little hardback book, with pages and all. The cover is whimsical and colourful, reminiscent of childhood and innocence - two children in a forest - a pinata, from which a snake has emerged, seizing the stick from the girl's hand. The inside is filled with psychadelic treats of dice and candy, the font playful and bright.

Truly a delight.

The music is similarly playfully eclectic, with the musical styles switching and the rhythms changing and evoking a wild and crazy carnival feeling.

The album opens with "Voodoo Mon Amour" with its trumpets and chugging bass. Swing or jazz? I'm not really up with my non-metal classifications. Anyhow, the vocals match, this is crazy stuff. Crazy but awesome. The lyrics are equally crazed:
"...we reek as mammals do..."
 "Guerilla Laments" starts with a percussion and a triumphant cascade of horns. I also detect something of a latin feel in their music.

We begin "Kevlar Sweethearts" with cellos. The vocals are gentler, soft and sweet. However, like kevlar, there is a harder edge as well. It is quite a haunting song.

The cellos lead us in to "How to Organise a Lynch Mob" too with their slow and longing voice. Then, it is consumed by "Black Box Messiah" as the synths and a far more modern sound takes over, reminsicent of the 80s pop explosion and peppered with strange vocals. Okay, so I have no idea how to classify this, but the vocals are a little Muse-ish, along with their rising power and striking the inner core of the soul in a slightly chaotic manner.

A rather heavier number, "Exit Strategy of a Wrecking Ball" has the force of the great ball itself, swinging in ponderous and threatening arches, getting closer and closer to contact. The chugging bass intermingled with twanging cellos. More synthesizer. Vocals quite Muse-esque, but with more horns and trumpets, and violin or cello,  and therefore superior. The intermingling of thrash, synth and classical instruments is masterful.

Not that I don't love Muse.
 "I have come to erase you, I'm here to replace you..."
There are also some aggressive numetal vibes here too, which are made more impressive with the addition of cello. I do not like numetal, but I REALLY like this!

"Aurora" starts like a starburst. Little percussive lights flickering over the horizon, exploding into fire. The vocals are almost-opera but more reminiscent of a musical. There are also some soothing folk vibes. Beautiful, transcendent and brought to life by the orchaestral melodies.

They're back into the cellos with "Mass Rapture", building into something epic, with a chugging more modern metal sound, but jerky rhythms from another era. The melodic, chanted choruses are haunted, beautiful, with a hint of opera.

We're back into the musical-meets-Muse vibes with a "Honey Trap Aftermath". The lyrics are staccato, punctuated by horns and with a distinctly jazz (?) vibe.

Dramatic staccato and horns deliver us into the mighty "Of Kali Ma Calibre".  The rum-tum-tum-tum of the drums leads us into the operatic vocals.  This is pure, symphonic Power and Might. Swelling from the speakers, pounding us with its majesty, before falling into chaotic rhythms, and then descending into a few brief chords of grindcore, swelling and slowing into the purity of violins. This is insane and wonderful.

The final track, "Justice for Saint Mary" has rather slower vibes and is also pure symphonic metal - violins and cellos weaving a fine web of power. Slow, melodic; haunting and rich. The drama builds, the tension mounts... the music becomes more frantic, the violins desperately against the deep howls of the cello, the drums, and other instruments rising, rising into an almighty storm, intense in its power and fury. Rising... Rising... Rising... And then it quiets and comes crashing down into....

... okay, I'm not going to tell you how this piece ends. Listen to it instead!

Pure majesty, power and originality - such an eclectic blend of metal, symphony, swing, jazz, latin and, well, everything else, can create only two things - a confused cornucopia of noise or this - something that truly needs to be listened to - and listened to LOUD - something that will reach deep within the core of your being, spark all the synapses in your brain that relate to auditory delight and invigorate you with boundless energy and positive vibes.

This is one album that you will play, and play again, and again, just to experience the full blend of emotions and sheer epicness of this album. It is extraordinary.

Yeh, you understand it - I really, really, really like this album. In fact, I'm going to rate it 11/10.
That's to say, it's currently the most interesting and intense album in my collection, and I feel a little sorry to listen to something else, as I suspect after this one it will be rather an anticlimax.

So in advance, I apologise to you, Eluveitie, for Diablo Swing Orchaestra are a hard act to follow.

And special thanks to my awesome brother for finding me another new favourite band - first he introduced me to Mercury Rev, now Diablo Swing Orchaestra. He is truly the Best Brother Ever.
(His blog is: Dances for Architecture and he writes better about music than I do. Check him out).

1 comment:

  1. Woo-hoo. Really glad that you enjoyed this album. They are perhaps the only band they I would describe, without hesitation, as perfect. Which is to say, that I cannot find a single fault with any of the songs on any of their albums. They are an experience like no other.

    Great review: you've done a fine job of capturing the breadth and power of this album, and that's a tough job to do.

    Cheers also for the shout-out.