Diablo Swing Orchestra – The Butcher’s Ballroom - 4.5/5
With the news of a second album by this genius group of artists due in September, I suppose that a review of their debut should be done sometime soon. For those unaware, DSO is an avant-garde metal band, which means that they play really weird heavy metal with many outside influences, in this case, swing and opera. Now wait, before you mark this off as a Nightwish-esque group; take a listen to just what is going on.
DSO plays a complex type of music in a simple fashion. They have a lot of elements that blend perfectly together in a way that covers up the relatively simple rhythms; the result is heavy metal that you can dance to. If you want to stay in your seat, beyond that relatively rare quality of dance-ibility, the sheer numbers of neat little bits of influences make this an exciting and eye-opening listen. From the token Egyptian scales of Gunpowder Chant to the Spanish guitar and trumpet of Poetic Pitbull Revolutions, the album just makes you want to say “Wow”.
Now, instead of going into depth with this LP, let’s take some time to attack some unfounded criticisms of this album. “It’s silly”. No your mom is silly, genocide is silly, the concept of proving God is silly. This is fun and interesting music going in an untouched direction, and if you can’t get that, it’s your loss. “It’s not metal enough”. Dude this is avant-garde, it doesn’t have to be *insert* enough, it just has to be explorative. “The vocalist is annoying”. What? You listen to all those wanna-be opera-esque bullshit vocalists, and the real deal is annoying? Your opinion is invalidated.
Not to say the album is perfect. Its main problem isn’t with the music, and it’s the precise lack of memorability. Sure the songs are different, but a band like this needs to do more then than that. The problem is that the ‘stand-out’ tracks don’t stand out enough, and the few filler tracks could have easily been put into the tracks they precede. Gunpowder Chant and Qualms of Conscience could have been integrated easily. If they did that, or gave songs in the first half some intros, the album would feel more balanced. As it stands, the first half feels loaded with singles, and the back half feels like an album that flows together as a whole. An interesting idea, but give the impression the band can’t do one or the other whole-heartedly.
If you haven’t given this a go yet, you really should. Love them or hate them, Diablo Swing Orchestra are doing something really cool, and if you don’t dig them, you’ll still have to talk to your friends about them when the rule the Earth. Sing Along Songs for the Damned and Delirious, September 2009.
Choice songs: Ballrog Boogie, Ragdoll Physics, Infralove, though there isn’t a bad song here.
By C. Ulferts