Diablo Swing Orchestra
Pandora's Pinata


4.5
superb

Review

by Greg Fisher STAFF
May 25th, 2012 | 83 replies | 19,155 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A sprawling tour de force that moves seamlessly between metallic technicality and full-throttle symphonic grandeur.

Diablo Swing Orchestra's approach to experimental metal revolves around staggering eclecticism. Swedish group merges a multitude of distinct influences incorporating swing, jazz, classical and even opera music into their core technical metal sound. As a result, their scatter-shot style, while occasionally cheesy, never ceases to be refreshingly original and enormously fun. Just like 2009’s Sing Along Songs For the Damned & Delirious, Pandora's Pinata is a collection of exuberantly performed compositions that are based on traditional song craft rather than excessive technicality so many contemporary metal acts are obsessed with.

The selling point of the disc lies in its amazing orchestration that seems immensely improved when compared to the band's previous releases. It's bewildering how swiftly the brass section and keys are complimented by such stringed instruments as cellos and violins. While this type of instrumentation plays second fiddle in many bands of this kind, Diablo Swing Orchestra don't underestimate the evocative power of instrumental diversity making the best of numerous musicians who have taken part in the recording sessions. In fact, the conventional, yet bombastic metal onslaught is overshadowed on occasion by classical and jazz orchestration that's arranged in an absolutely astounding manner. All these elements expectedly result in a grandiose scope overflowing even the most subtle tunes on the album.

Every single song on Pandora's Pinata feels thoroughly rehearsed so as to achieve the perfect balance between plenty of instruments. The operatic singing that characterizes symphonic metal has been downplayed in favour of a more natural and fitting delivery. Out of the two songs that openly use operatic vocals though, stripped-down “Aurora” is a revelation of cinematic proportions which clearly surpasses pompous “Of Kali Ma Calibre.” The band's style has been dubbed avant-garde metal by fans and critics alike. However, there's hardly anything inaccessible about their music. Even though the record oscillates between a wide range of moods and vibes, the songs are never less than instantly memorable or even addictive.

With its sprawling fusion of swing and metal, opener “Voodoo Mon Amour” ranks among the most shamelessly entertaining tracks of the year. “Guerilla Laments” sustains the danceable vibe adding out-of-the-blue, salsa-echoing rhythm patterns. In contrast, “Kevlar Sweethearts” channels 1970s progressive rock with its melancholic vocal lines and dignified arrangements interspersed with technical metal riffing. When you begin to think Diablo Swing Orchestra have just run out of ideas to surprise you, “Black Box Messiah” introduces some creepy, childlike vocals into its circus metal aesthetics. On the other hand, “Mass Rapture” showcases an epic heavy metal foray into the East, whereas smooth “Honey Trap Aftermath” makes for an excellent funk rock tune due to its clunky bass lines and atmospheric trumpet solos. The group's singular greatest achievement that reveals their boundless versatility happens to be the album's closer “Justice For Saint Mary” though. This largely acoustic track evokes the palpable feeling of tension by means of a genuinely disturbing cello motif that builds to a vicious industrial breakdown.

Pandora's Pinata captures Diablo Swing Orchestra excelling in their admirably accessible spin on experimental metal. This superbly orchestrated album blends multiple genres with grace and cohesion, which makes it a real treat for anyone who's willing to venture into the realm of exuberant, artistic music that ranges from cinematic to theatrical.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
CaptainDooRight
May 24th 2012



28340 Comments


I just listened to this the other day on new album release. I think I liked some of it. But it's very dense so I need several listens before I can say I like it. But good review bro as usual. Pos

Digging: IQ - The Road of Bones

Philalethes
May 24th 2012



245 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

I forgot this was coming out! I love how seamlessly this band fuses more serious genres of music like classical and jazz/swing genres with a darker, yet playful metal edge. The musicianship on this record is top notch. Excellent review.

Rail
May 24th 2012



489 Comments


That recommended section makes me wanna listen to this. The album sounds ridiculous.
Great review, +1.

Digging: Tipper - Forward Escape

snewso
May 25th 2012



107 Comments


gotta check this out, liked the previous one pretty well.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 25th 2012



7315 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks a bunch guys. The album slays. Here's the video for Voodoo Mon Amour:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m2mZVOd0jWY

Digging: Dog Fashion Disco - Sweet Nothings

Jethro42
May 25th 2012



12377 Comments


This sounds appealing. I want this. Good job on the review as expected, mate.
Edit; Damn, you're already about to reach your 60th review. That's nice, keep up the good work!

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 26th 2012



7315 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I guess (knowing my prophetic skills) it may very well be your favorite album of 2012. This is essential for every progster/avant-garde fan.

JamieTwort
Contributing Reviewer
May 26th 2012



19994 Comments


This sounds really interesting. Might check it out.

Great job on the review as ususal Greg.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 26th 2012



7315 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It surely might be a shock for you dude. It's a very eclectic blend of presumably unrelated genres. But yeah, I think you'll dig it. The last track especially is out of this world.

MarvinLapsus
May 26th 2012



128 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Good review, have your vote. About the album's density, I would say that this is their easiest-listening album to date, which I found very pleasing... but not everyone.

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 26th 2012



7315 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Yeah. I actually stressed this in the review. Despite being dubbed avant-garde, the album never ceases to be accessible. This is its biggest asset besides supreme instrumentation imo. Thanks.

kingsoby1
Emeritus
May 26th 2012



4940 Comments


until it goes on spotify i wont be seeking this out. last record was just horrible

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 26th 2012



7315 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

You know how it is particularly with this style of music: either you dig it or not. This is more consistent than their previous LP, but it's more or less the same genre-bending music. So, my guess is you ain't gonna like it.

Tyrael
May 30th 2012



20738 Comments


Sobhi gave Sing-Along Songs a 1

what a fag

I knew he was not to be trusted when he gave the new EL-P a 5

greg84
Staff Reviewer
May 30th 2012



7315 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I can kind of see why some people dislike it (have no idea about hating it so much though). Their music may seem scatter-shot, not to mention overly cheesy for some. I for one think their style is refreshingly original, but to each his own.

Lambda
June 21st 2012



2411 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

This sort of reminds me of Estradasphere

Digging: Anathema - Judgement

Funeralopolis
June 21st 2012



11025 Comments


all these not orchestra bands calling themselves orchestras

Digging: RATKING - So It Goes

greg84
Staff Reviewer
June 22nd 2012



7315 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

@Lambda:
Good call. When I think about it now, these bands are kind of similar.

@Funeralopolis:
In case of these guys it's justified they call themselves orchestra. More than 20 people took part in the recording process of this LP.

Lambda
June 25th 2012



2411 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Jeez, I love the last track. I may even bump this to a 4.5.

Lambda
June 25th 2012



2411 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Bumped.



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