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Diablo Swing Orchestra: Pandora's Piñata

The (supposed) history behind this band is unfortunately far more intriguing than their product. It basically concerns a group of musicians from the 16th century wherein they performed for all the peasants secular chamber music under the protection of the night in order to rebel against the church, who eventually killed them. If that was true I'd think the current relatives of the old orchestra would be a little more persevering in the creation of their rebellious, fantastical resonance rather than settling for metal plus swing music, but that's essentially why their first two records, while quite fun, weren't thoroughly remarkable; too many tricks (not exactly newfangled either), not enough musical treats, or rather the correct phrase would be lasting compositional prowess.

Then again, maybe that's not their goal. It's entirely possible they exist in the Dionysian purpose of excess and ecstasy. It's not like their dazzle of swing metal from the first two records could wear out....except that with Pandora's Piñata, the band decided to amplify the metal parts in the mix making most of the record homogenous. After numerous listens, there are only three songs that stick out, for the rest of the album retains no rousing instrumentals or vocals but rather unfortunately conventional melodies.

"Aurora," however, is purely classical instrumentation. With its operatic vocals, moreso operatic than usual, and the slowed tempo, the song is an easy highlight as it glides through its playtime through its subtlety in tension and lack of repetition. "Mass Rapture's" choir and eastern tinge meld well as the metal bits aren't forced to the top of the mix; the violin's fervency and the percussion come through as somewhat sensual. The closer notwithstanding, "Justice For Saint Mary" has the same classical, varied leaning as "Aurora" but also a mysterious air that becomes more fantastical once the staccato brass enters. Its eight-minute run is justified once the tempo change hits on the signal of turbulent strings and bombastic, sonorous brass while the metal gets added back, as well as a surprising electronica finish.

Those three tracks show the band is uber-skillful but one must wonder where that flair was on the rest of the record. That's basically what it comes down to; so much potential that feels disregarded. Is it wrong to yearn for something more mystical in alignment with their alleged history?

Track Listing
1. Voodoo Mon Amour
2. Guerrilla Laments
3. Kevlar Sweethearts
4. How To Organize A Lynch Mob
5. Black Box Messiah
6. Exit Strategy Of A Wrecking Ball
7. Aurora
8. Mass Rapture
9. Honey Trap Aftermath
10. Of Kali Ma Calibre
11. Justice For Saint Mary

Added: June 28th 2012
Reviewer: Danny Heater
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 4169
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

Diablo Swing Orchestra: Pandora's Piñata
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2012-06-28 08:32:54
My Score:

Try as I might, I just seem to be one of those folks who simply does not get Diablo Swing Orchestra. Musically, these guys are tight as a drum, and let's face, they are doing something completely different, but I just find their material, and especially their latest Pandora's Pinata to be grating and just too over the top. Mixing opera, Latin jazz, salsa, classical, and traditional Asian themes with progressive metal sounds like a monumental task, and it is, with Diablo Swing Orchestra only being partially successful at making it all work together. Vocal styles are all over the map here, which is part of the problem, though on "Exit Strategy Of A Wrecking Ball" you get some solid male melodic vocals mixed in with some extreme passages that makes for entertaining listening. I can't fault the band for putting together some truly adventurous music throughout, as they certainly have the chops to pull off complex metal, prog, jazz, and classical, but with so many varying styles hitting you from one song to the next, it's hard to stay focused on what's going on here.

For some, this is going to be wonderfully clever, and I'm going to give a full thumbs up for uniqueness and overall talent of the band, but as far as delivering an album that can provide hours and hours of listening enjoyment, it gets a thumbs down for me. To these ears, much of Pandora's Pinata is disjointed, unfocused, and just too filled with numerous genre styles that all seem to clash with each other. Maybe it's just me, but in the end it just doesn't work. You decide...

» Reader Comments:

Diablo Swing Orchestra: Pandora's Piñata
Posted by gabhain on 2012-05-04 19:48:22
My Score:

This just seems to be over critical for the sake of it. I do prefer their previous albums but this in no means a bad album.

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