Diablo Swing Orchestra
22 May 2012
by Ruth Booth
When you hear the words “Jazz Metal”, you probably think of Meshuggah, TesseracT, or some other league of extraordinary Djentlemen. You’re less likely to imagine some hybrid of 1920s prohibition and nineties alt-metal, like Valkyrie flapper girls doing the Charleston to gut-crunching guitar. And yes, Diablo Swing Orchestra are that Other Jazz Metal, a name they made for themselves with their 2009 cult hi,t Sing-Along Songs for the Damned and Delirious. With their third record, Pandora’s Piñata, they’re heading south of the border.
While Sing-Along Songs… was more of an Eastern-European-cum-Addams-Family affair, Pandora’s Piñata opens up new territory. Welcome to the old time West and Mexico, and despite a detour to Grand Theft Tokyo via ‘Black Box Messiah’, it’s a locale that suits DSO fine. Recent single, ‘Voodoo Mon Amour’ may have stuck some Broadway jazz hands and bright shiny pins in their gin-soaked, blackened-teeth cabaret smiles, but DSO prove equally adept at twisted spaghetti western parable (‘Kevlar Sweethearts’), thundering post-apocalyptic whirl (the Cavalera beats of ‘Mass Rapture’), batshit string remix horror (‘Justice For Saint Mary’) or Mexican shootout blues (the Muse-ish ‘Exit Strategy For A Wrecking Ball’).
There’s a fresh zest to it, this kind of Tim Burton-esque bombastic mash-up is par for DSO’s course. This time they also stretch their legs, exploring particular flavours at more leisure with interesting – if mixed – results. ‘Honey Trap Aftermath’ rolls its tongue around a seedy lounge soundtrack that is, oddly, just crying out for an (albeit edgy) Justin Timberlake cover. But while the hot-blooded ‘Aurora’ sees Annlouice Loegdlund exercise her professional operatic chops, it’s more as a palate-clearing sorbet than a death-by-chocolate dessert. As the mournful cello of ‘How to Organize a Lynch Mob’ argues, these moments still work best in small, poignant doses.
Listen to ‘Voodoo Mon Amour’ by Diablo Swing Orchestra:
For a band who claim their ancestors were persecuted for the demonic bent of their music, DSO don’t seem particularly keen on avoiding the same fate. Pandora’s Piñata is a Hell of a good time, with extra chili sauce. Sadly, this is the last album with ex-Therion drummer, Petter Kahlsson, not least because it leaves DSO without a studio percussionist for the second time in as many albums. But they’re unlikely to be in the lurch for long, as like tequila in a speakeasy, this album’s likely to gather word of mouth ‘til the last drop’s drained from the barrel.
Sounds Like: The Ultimate Dia de los Muertos Party album.
Standout Tracks: Black Box Messiah, Of Kali Ma Calibre, Mass Rapture.