DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA — Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious

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DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA - Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious cover
4.37 | 28 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 2009

Tracklist

1. A Tap Dancer's Dilemma (5:12)
2. A Rancid Romance (4:27)
3. Lucy Fears the Morning Star (6:34)
4. Bedlam Sticks (3:29)
5. New World Widows (5:56)
6. Siberian Love Affairs (0:58)
7. Vodka Inferno (4:08)
8. Memoirs of a Roadkill (3:30)
9. Ricerca Dell'anima (5:34)
10. Stratosphere Serenade (8:25)

Total Time: 48:13

Line-up/Musicians

- Daniel Håkansson / vocals and guitar
- Annlouice Wolgers / vocals
- Pontus Mantefors / guitar
- Andy Johansson / bass
- Johannes Bergion / cello
- Andreas Halvardsson / drums

Additional musicians:
- Kosma Ranuer / Baritone Vocals
- Daniel Hedin / Trombone
- Martin Isaksson / Trumpet
- David Werthén / Double Bass
- Henrik Bergion / Piano, Accordium, Harmonium
- Jonatan Jonsson / Clarinet
- Tobias Hedlund / Percussion

About this release

Ascendance Records, October 2009.

Andy Johansson: Art direction
Peter Bergting: Artwork, Cover art, Illustration
Pontus Mantefors: Engineering
Erik Bovin: Producer (dvd)
Hannes Hagstrand: Animation (dvd)
Joan Valdes: Animation (dvd)
Dragan Tanasković:Mastering
Roberto Laghi: Producer, Engineering

Recorded at IF Studios, Gothenburg, Sweden.

The regular edition is a 4-panel digipak containing the CD and a 12 page booklet and a special edition, limited to just 2000 copies, in an 8 panel digipak containing the CD, a 12 page booklet and a bonus DVD featuring an introduction story to the band and album and an 8 bit version of the song "Balrog Boogie".

There's also a "Very Special" edition with an individually numbered band logo Dog Tag pendant, a set of postcards and a vinyl sticker included with the CD/DVD version. Limited to 300 copies.

Thanks to progkidjoel, Unitron for the updates

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DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA SING ALONG SONGS FOR THE DAMNED & DELIRIOUS reviews

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siLLy puPPy
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.
Unitron
Along with heavy metal, another style of music that I had grown up listening to quite a bit was Big Band and Swing music from the golden age of film. Although there was some Benny Goodman in the selection, most of what I heard were from the classic movie musicals of the 40's and 50's. I can't say I used to be a huge fan of the vocals, but I always loved the dancing and music that went along with it. In fact, I'd still rank classics like Royal Wedding (1951), The Band Wagon (1953), and It's Always Fair Weather (1955) among my favorite films.

Despite my love of both classic metal and classic films, I'd never have thought "Hey, you know Fred Astaire's awesome jazzy Shoe Shine song in The Band Wagon? Let's combine that with heavy metal and see what we get.". Wrathchild America did the swing and metal combo first back in 1991 with their song "Spy", or if you want to go even farther, Megadeth had some pretty swing-sounding rhythm sections on their first two albums. However, Diablo Swing Orchestra is to my knowledge the first band to make swing metal into an actual thing.

...and holy fuck. When I first heard "A Tap Dancer's Dilemma", I had no idea that this was something I wanted and needed, but fucking hell yes it was. Opening with that total classic sounding booming big band drum sound, it honestly sounds like you did just put on a swing record. Then those sexy horns and grinding guitar come in, it just sounds like a combo made in heaven. It really feels like this is from a scene from one of those old musicals, just with metal instrumentation added. Everything is just so fun, energetic, and just swingin'. Oh, and those basslines, those are smooth as silk that swings.

While the singing was my least favorite part of those musicals growing up, I've since grown to appreciate the vocal styles used such as opera singing and crooning. Usually when people think of opera and metal combined, they think of the over-abundance of Nightwish copycats, but here you couldn't get farther from that. This is real opera singing and other styles right out of those musicals. There's also some tango, surf, and other styles thrown in as far as the music goes. The metal aspect takes from alternative metal, thrash metal, funk metal, and some surprising nu-metal sounding riffs. There is absolutely no pretense here, just tasty licks and delicious riffs a plenty.

"Bedlam Sticks" has thrashing riffs shredding through your skin, blended with bass wizardry and quirky vocals that sounds right out of a Primus album. The vocals are all over the place on this song, with a mix of the aforementioned vocals, opera, cabaret, and even some death vocals thrown in there. "Vodka Inferno" has some crushing hooks that sound right out of a System of a Down album. "Rancid Romance" is an addicting metal tango, "Lucy Fears the Morning Star" has some colossal grooves, and "Ricerca Dell'anima" blends the musical metal sound with some cool surf rock techniques. Towards the end of the song, it's impossible to not love the blend of piercing groove metal riffing with those amazing horns. "Memoirs of a Roadkill" is the one song devoid of metal, and is what I can only call acoustic funk.

Just like the album opened up with the mind-blowing "A Tap Dancer's Dilemma", it closes with the mind-blowing "Stratosphere Serenade". These were the first two songs I heard from the band, and what an introduction. It's hard enough to describe this album as a whole, but this last song especially, I'm at a loss for words. There's some amazing cello work, massive grooves, and beautiful vocals, but this is one that you'll just have to listen to yourself.

This is a tough album to talk about, because no matter what I write in my review, I can't do it true justice. I've made it pretty clear that I'm an old school metal and hard rock fan, most of my all time favorite albums are from the 70's, 80's and 90's. It takes a lot for an album from the 21st century to become one of my all time favorite albums. Clutch's Psychic Warfare did that simply by being an amazing all killer no filler old-school hard rock album, Chevelle's North Corridor did it by being a crushing dirge of alterna-sludge, and Diablo Swing Orchestra did that by being a game-changer that hasn't gotten the game to change yet. It takes two kinds of music that I hold dear to my heart, along with a bunch of other stuff, and just created an album that I never thought I was looking for. While DSO is still around doing stuff, they'll never be the same with the departure of vocalist Annlouice Wolgers. Who knows if swing metal will ever expand beyond DSO's sound. I sure hope it does, but if it doesn't, one thing can be said. Sing-Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious is a one-of-a-kind album, and there's really nothing like it. If you haven't heard this album, check it out with an open mind. In an era where amazing music from new bands is hard to find, make this an essential listen.

https://thewickednest.blogspot.com/2018/04/diablo-swing-orchestra-sing-along-songs.html

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