Similar to Stolen Babies from earlier this week, the Diablo Swing Orchestra is a band that attempts to wear many hats. Essentially, think big band swing mixed with metal, their music is iconically unique in its sound. Having discovered the band on their previous release, Sing Along Songs For the Damned & Delirious that included metalesque renditions of swing, tango, rockabilly, polka/Russian folk music, minuets, and carnival styles of music, I was primed for this year’s release.
They are an octet that includes a female operatic singer, a trumpeter and trombonist, keyboardist, in addition to their typical metal instruments. Their songs are diverse and their sound unique, profiling their many sides and talents. DSO’s album begins with the bounding “Voodoo, Mon Amour” straight out zoot suit style swing with heavier guitars. Its catchy and bouncy, featuring Annlouice Loegdlund’s powerful voice in the verses, and demonstrating how well the cello really adds to the rhythm line of a metal band. “Guerrilla Laments” is a percussion focused piece that blares in the trumpet; however, its mid pace rhythms and lack of technical focus it possessed caused me to not enjoy this song as much as it seemed to be quirky for quirk’s sake rather than artistically quirky.
“Kevlar Sweethearts” combines their talents well and is probably the best song off the album. “Black Box Messiah” has a fun rhythm to it; however, I could do without the Baby Metal style high pitched vocals made me want to put my head through my office’s window. “Exit Strategy of a Wrecking Ball” feels like a thrash metal opera that culminates in “Aurora.” My absolute favorite song off the album is the jazzy “Honey Trap Aftermath” that some what reminds me of my parents’ records from the mid 1970s.
Though interesting, DSO missed what I thought really made their last album: the interplay between their male voices (deep and sometimes grating; mid pitched and sometimes soothing) and their strong female voice. This was disappointing and could have really made some of the songs that were weaker compositions as this album does not have the high level of creativity that their last contained. The music is still very fun and the performers are still very talented. It seems this time that they overlooked performance, which is a serious quality they contain in spades, on this album. Pandora’s Pinata is a good album, but not as good as their previous, and when you’re playing a risk musically you’ve really got to nail it. Unfortunately, this time DSO did not nail it.