DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA

Avant-garde Metal • Sweden
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Diablo Swing Orchestra is a Swedish avant-garde metal band. The band was formed in 2003.

Members: Daniel Håkansson – guitars, vocals (since 2003) Pontus Mantefors – guitars, effects (since 2003) Annlouice Loegdlund – vocals (since 2003) Andy Johansson – bass (since 2003) Johannes Bergion – cello (since 2003) Petter Karlsson – drums (since 2010)

Former MembersAndreas Halvardsson – drums (2003–2010) The origin of the name of the band is related both on their website and on their CDBaby description page. The back-story recounts a historically questionable, though amusing, ancestral story beginning in 16th century Sweden. Supposedly, ancestors of the band members performed orchestral works in defiance of the ruling church at the time (possibly the newly installed protestant Lutheran national church, in power during the mid and late 16th century). The orchestra was forced to go into hiding, performing in secret, with the assistance of oppressed peasants during the era. After years of performing for the
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PacifisticuffsPacifisticuffs
Spinefarm 2017
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Sing-Along Songs for the Damned & DeliriousSing-Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious
THE LASER'S EDGE 2017
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THE LASER'S EDGE 2017
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Butchers BallroomButchers Ballroom
TDNE 2007
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Butchers Ballroom by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRAButchers Ballroom by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA
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DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA Discography

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA albums / top albums

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA The Butcher's Ballroom album cover 3.93 | 28 ratings
The Butcher's Ballroom
Avant-garde Metal 2006
DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious album cover 4.20 | 26 ratings
Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious
Avant-garde Metal 2009
DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA Pandora's Piñata album cover 4.07 | 17 ratings
Pandora's Piñata
Avant-garde Metal 2012
DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA Pacifisticuffs album cover 4.14 | 3 ratings
Pacifisticuffs
Avant-garde Metal 2017

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA EPs & splits

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA Borderline Hymns album cover 3.33 | 2 ratings
Borderline Hymns
Avant-garde Metal 2003

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA live albums

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA demos, promos, fans club and other releases (no bootlegs)

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DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA Reviews

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious

Album · 2009 · Avant-garde Metal
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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

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA Pacifisticuffs

Album · 2017 · Avant-garde Metal
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siLLy puPPy
Very few bands in the overcrowded world of progressive rock / metal manage to develop a highly unique and utterly original sound right from the start and even fewer manage to keep the legions of copycats from jumping on the bandwagon, but fourteen years after their formation, the bizarre avant-swing-symphonic-metal-rock group DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA still manages to exist in a musical universe all their very own. After long speculation of whether or not the band would continue after the departures of vocalist Annlouice Loegdlund and percussionist Petter Karlsson, the band kept the rumors at bay by declaring that they were still an active musical group yet somehow the years slipped by with no new album. Finally after a mere half decade DOS returns with their fourth album PACIFISTICUFFS. While originally slated for a 2016 release, the countless delays and technical difficulties in the mixing resulted in a year long delay from the original target. But at long last towards the end of 2017, the album has finally emerged and sounds exactly like what one would expect as a followup to their 2012 album “Pandora’s Piñata.”

As with all the DSO album, PACIFISTICUFFS is quite the sophisticated project that may not be apparent upon a casual listening experience. The band once again take the disparate elements of swing revival and symphonic prog rock as their main canvasses to paint upon but include the usual metal guitar riffs to add the extra heft albeit the latter are much less pronounced as opposed to their earlier heavy guitar-laden riffing. This album still retains all the DSO characteristics that came before but there are a lot more genre diversions as well. The most prominent of these is a heavy emphasis on Balkan gypsy folk rhythms and musical scales that add that polka-esque oom-paa-paa feel to much of the album. Some of the brass sections also carry a klezmer type of flavor at times and there are even parts that dip into Elvis Presley country-esque territory (“The Age Of Vulture Culture”) and tango (“Cul-de-sac Semantics”) as well as occasional banjo outbursts. The symphonic tracks are quite grand with lush violin and viola passages that make you forget you’re listening to a rock based album at times. This is quite the assembly of musicians and contains a huge army of personal on board to bring about this album. There are not only eight members credited to be official members but an additional eleven musicians that add the touches of violin, viola, double bass, clarinet, tube, additional percussion and backing vocals. The production department is no less impressive.

While DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA gets lumped into the avant-garde metal camp, i have to emphasize that this is not really a metal band at all but an avant-garde swing revival band that just happens to incorporate aspects of metal into their overall sound. For those who only rely on the metal bombast to keep their interest, then PACIFISTICUFFS will surely disappoint because of the fact that the metal parts seem to play much less of a role this time around. True that tracks like “Superhero Jaggnath” have ample bursts of guitar riffing prowess but for the most part, this album is more of a silky smooth studio album that some may call overproduced and overweening in its pompous operatic outbursts that at their peak don’t sound too far off from some of the zeuhl band Magma’s most in-yer-face moments. Also as always, DSO focus their full force on over-the-top catchy melodies that become exaggerated by the pomp and awe of the many backing elements of swing, rock and symphony. Both newbies vocalist Kristin Evegård and drummer Johan Norbäck integrate perfectly into the band with Evegård sounding exactly like her predecessor in every possible way. On a side note, the non-album track “Jigsaw Hustle” which appeared in 2014 as a lone single has been rerecorded and shows the diverse palette expand even further into the disco revival world. The track reminds me a lot of ELO’s “Out Of The Blue” era.

After only a couple listens to PACIFISTICUFFS, i’m utterly amazed at how well it all flows together so seamlessly where every little touch is disciplined and the puzzle pieces placed in a precise order in order to achieve the desired effect. All the delays in the mixing room were worth the wait as the production is absolutely crystal clear and instead of all the disparate instruments sounding like a big muddy mess, each has found its niche in the greater sonic picture as if a great conductor is hiding behind the scenes as to ensure that nobody jumps the gun and gets all jiggy on us. PACIFISTICUFFS will not win over any non-believers for sure. If anything it will scare off all but the most serious music nerds who are fans of the many genres on display here. For me, this album ranks as one of the band’s most ambitious and taking the logical path of progression past 2012’s “Pandora’s Piñata.” It’s hard to know what to call this anymore since the tracks vary so much and no element dominates the soundscape for long. Not every track contains metal, nor swing nor symphonic chamber rock. Some contain all three but no matter which of these holds the reins at any particular moment, they are always accompanied by unexpected elements guided by memorable and captivating melodic developments. I do believe that DSO have proven that they are no mere novelty and that they have the chops to pull off some of the most mind-bending genre juggling there is to be heard.

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA The Butcher's Ballroom

Album · 2006 · Avant-garde Metal
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Warthur
Diablo Swing Orchestra's basic schtick was pretty well codified on this debut album: take some lukewarm metal, apply influences from prog and swing, ladle on some operatic vocals and serve with melodrama. It's fun and all, but I find it wears thin over the course of an entire album taking this general approach. The Orchestra is clearly a technically gifted crew, though, and individual songs are enjoyable in small doses, but it feels like a mash-up too far - like if they did opera-swing, or metal opera, or swing metal, it'd work better than this attempt at operatic swing metal.

The album was made freely available via Creative Commons, though, so no harm in checking it out to see if it's more to your taste than mine.

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA The Butcher's Ballroom

Album · 2006 · Avant-garde Metal
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siLLy puPPy
In the world of experimental and avant-garde metal, one can hardly know what to expect and more often than not, a band digs deep into the recesses of experimentation only to conjure up some type of music that is dense and complex and requires some serious investment of time and energy in order to find a footing in the newly created sonic universe that they have constructed. And then there’s bands like Sweden’s DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA that not only catches your attention from the very first seconds of first contact but manages to suck you in and enjoy the music from the get go and when all has been played and you have a chance to reflect upon the crazy combo effect of the music at hand, you will ask yourself “It’s such a logical combination of things, why hasn’t someone thought of this before?” DSO is one of those blender bands that takes everything including the kitchen sink approach, alloys all kinds of disparate musical styles and throws them into a salad bowl and then tosses all the components around until they form a whole new form of musical expression.

While this music is primarily based on a healthy supply of metal guitar riffing married with the jump blues and swing revival scene that was all the rage in the 1990s and graced with the female classical soprano diva vocals of AnnLouice Lögdlun belting out operatic enunciations like there’s no tomorrow, the music also incorporates all sorts of other styles including Flamenco guitar, Middle Eastern, spaghetti western, surf rock as well as good old-fashioned rock ’n’ roll. THE BUTCHER’S BALLROOM is the full-length debut album but technically isn’t the band’s debut release since a four track EP titled “Borderline Hymns” came out in 2003, a full three years before this album. However, BALLROOM contains all four tracks from that debut EP thus rendering it completely irrelevant and a mere footnote in history. They haven’t even been re-recorded or anything so in effect this one could very well be considered the debut.

THE BUTCHER’S BALLROOM is divided up into two Acts which are supposed to represent some sort of story line but i honestly have no friggin’ clue as to what these two divided themes are all about. They probably have some reference to the band’s tongue-in-cheek approach to creating a completely faux mythology regarding their timeline which purportedly begins with their ancestral history that goes all the way back to 16th century Sweden. The current band is supposed to be the ancestors of past band members who created diabolical music that was strictly forbidden by the Lutheran church. The tale becomes more elaborate as the members of this secret musical organization had to go into hiding for centuries up until the right time would allow the inheritor’s of this secular music to expose their musical world to the public. Well, wait no longer, DOS is here to stay!

While all these styles sound like a possible road to disaster and very likely could have been if DOS weren’t so skilled in how they pull all these disparate styles off. Daniel Håkansson is the sole songwriter on this one and clearly has the knack of knowing just how much of the different ingredients to add to this musical salad and just like a fine cuisine knows when too much lettuce and too many tomatoes can throw off the balance of the whole. It’s fairly uncanny in how accessible the music is upon first listen but has ways of letting you dig deeper into the song constructs once the initial WOW factor has waned. In addition to the aforementioned styles that dominate THE BUTCHER’S BALLROOM, the listener will also be floored with all sorts of other instruments that aren’t supposed to work here but somehow do. A didgeridoo can be heard accompanying surf rock and jazzy opera singing. Flamenco dances side by side with electronica and cellos happily accompany heavy distorted metal riffs.

The trick to enjoy DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA’s conglomerating mass of styles is to not become too enthralled in any one particular genre style. While often fitting into the vague descriptive category of avant-garde metal, this is definitely no headbanger’s paradise as metal is not the dominate force on this one but more of an accompanying sound effect to wrap itself around the dominating gypsy swing, classical and jazzy undertones that swing from one musical thread to another. This is simply wild and crazy stuff and the only band that comes to mind with their ability to mix and meld so many styles and still create a very melodic and musical experience is the Japanese band Sigh. THE BUTCHER’S BALLROOM truly was like no other album or band that came before. DOS truly found a total unique identity from their inception and nothing else has even come close to copying it and with a lineup that includes not only guitars, bass, drums and keys but ample extras such as lute, flute, cello, double bass, violin as well as a few ethnic touches here and there, you know you’re in for a wild ride unlike another other. Love it!

DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA Borderline Hymns

EP · 2003 · Avant-garde Metal
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siLLy puPPy
BORDERLINE HYMNS is technically the debut release by DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA and came out a full three years before they would release their first full-length album “ The Butcher’s Ballroom.” This EP contains only four tracks and all of them would be included on the first full-length release thus rendering this one completely irrelevant and a mere footnote in history and therefore could be considered only a demo of sort despite being released as a full fledged CD. While the music on this is totally excellent, this is basically inessential given that the tracks are all included on “The Butcher’s Ballroom.” I struggle as how exactly to rate this. Excellent music plus inessential seem to equal 3 stars. For descriptions of the music itself go to my review for “The Butcher’s Ballroom.”

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