The Bodhisattva Beat
Music and Life

Diablo Swing Orchestra: Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious

Sing Along Songs for the Damned and Delirious: 2009

Remember the swing fad from ten years ago? That was fun, but little new was brought to the table. Imagine if a bunch of musicians that were into metal, opera, and zeühl took a stab at it. Well that’s basically what Diablo Swing Orchestra did. Even though the idea sounds totally original, and the guy who sold me the CD said it wasn’t like anything else, I find they probably owe most of their influence to Mike Patton and Mr. Bungle. With that said, put together all of these elements and you have got some heavy crazy fun.

Metal from Sweden is no surprise, nor is prog, but big band is. Thus this music is a refreshing deviation from the norm. The chops from both have definitely been integrated, so this is not merely novelty. Just remember to pay attention while you are tapping your foot to the beat, banging you head with a fuzzy riff, or laughing at the melodramatic vocals because you just may miss how good this band really is.

Swing is the foundation, and established immediately with force on “A Tap Dancer’s Dilemma.” The drum beat intro is taken right from the Gene Krupa playbook, and the horn / guitar arrangements could easily be mistaken for Benny Goodman. Of course his orchestra did not have crunching electric metal guitars, which are substituted for what would have been more horns.

Now the reason I used the term foundation is because there is more than swing going on here. “Rancid Romance” takes tango where it has never gone before. It starts out very traditional (mind you that is a relative use of the word), gets a bit darker and heavier, and then approaches metallic zeühl in the center. It ends very traditionally with violin and accordion.

“Lucy Fears the Morning Sun” is very orchestral, operatic, and frankly nuts! Just when you think you have it down, a curveball the size of a honeydew melon hits you smack upside the head. Whether it’s Cookie Monster growling, zeühl histrionics, or Latin jazz, each surprise is welcome.

From this point the style is established, so you know what you’re in for from now on. That is not to say there are no more surprises, it’s just that a certain comfort level has been achieved. That also means that you are hooked, and you won’t be able to turn it off. This is very odd stuff, but oh so infectious. As I said before, the band is also extremely good. There is a wide variety of instrumentation including piano, cello, string bass, acoustic guitar, and tympani. Each one played to perfection. The compositions are very detailed and tightly constructed as well. Let me see, any negative points… nope! Well okay, it may be a bit too heavy for some, but I think even more fervent non-metal fans could handle it.

I don’t know if I would call this completely original, but “Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious” doesn’t have much you could compare it to. I call it incredibly fun (sometimes silly) music for serious connoisseurs. Don’t miss out on this one. I can’t imagine too many people that would be able to resist its charms.

Daniel Håkansson – vocals & guitar
Annlouice Loegdlund – vocals
Pontus Mantefors – guitar & fx
Andy Johansson – bass
Johannes Bergion – cello
Andreas Halvardsson – drums

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2 Responses to “Diablo Swing Orchestra: Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious”

  1. Great review, HT! I agree with you that the album is a must-listen, though, personally speaking, I find that after a while the novelty wears off a bit. On the other hand, it’s light years better than the impossibly over-hyped District 97…

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