Diablo Swing Orchestra - Sing-Along Songs for the Damned and Delirious Review
by Matt Hensch
Definitely the most daunting thing about Diablo Swing Orchestra is trying to accept their wide ramifications that can conjure a mixture of emotions, albeit both good and bad perspectives have a stranglehold on the listener's threshold. I can give "Sing-Along Songs for the Damned and Delirious" a million labels: surreal, majestic, poetic, annoying, putrid, burdensome, unique, bombastic, or otherworldly perhaps. I felt all these words were, at one time or another, fitting for Diablo Swing Orchestra's rioting journey. But after a lot of listening, I have made my final verdict: this is miserably brilliant. Yes, these avant-garde champs are certainly beyond the norm, but with so much craziness even Cthulhu could feel a little batty after witnessing this balance of absurd thoughts and ideas.
"Sing Along Songs" is rather special in that it blends a combination of opposite-spectrum music together as one, including opera, swing music, and metal. This conjures two thoughts: it's metal, swing music, and opera, but on the other hand, it's metal, swing music, and opera. Anticlimactic, I know. I guess each side brings a suitable cut of bacon home, like the female soprano vocalist, whom is absolutely fantastic, whereas her male counterpart does a bang-up job as well; both singers are versatile and fitting for these strange landscapes. There really isn't anything cynical to add about the song structures, because any group that can mend so many atypical identities into a single entity and avoid a total head-on collision altogether deserves a proper salute, but that doesn't change the fact it's a portable headache on plastic. There's just so many ideas smashing together that it does, in fact, become very difficult to understand what in the blue hell is going on. At times the record is cool, but at other intervals the band shoots, rapes, stabs, punches, kicks, immolates, skins, butchers, and pisses on the dead horse again and again and again.
I'm afraid there is such a thing as "too crazy" for the adventurer's tongue, so to speak. It's clear they get a little caught up in the web from tangling everything together: some choruses get messy, vocals become tied, brass instruments sporadically fire
it quickly becomes an aftermath between a tornado and a shed. Also, where are the riffs? What about the passion? A lot of this stuff seems very uninspired and oddly bland once the bizarre predictability settles in, making the record plain 'ol boring after ten minutes. It's no display of irony that the album's finest moments shine when the group rests on a steady idea instead of throwing a wild orgy of everything imaginable together, like the menacing riffing on "A Rancid Romance" or the trumpet section towards the end of "Lucy Fears the Morning Star." The self-proclaimed masters of "riot-opera" proudly demonstrate a special mixture of metal, opera, brass instruments, and 30s swing music among different musical situations that is so individualistic you might feel this is sheer brilliance
or complete crap, whichever sounds better.
In other words, it's like that time when Mr. Burns (The Simpsons, anyone?) went to the Mayo Clinic and found out he had every disease ever (even hysterical pregnancy) but wasn't ill because of the Three-Stooges Syndrome: a woo-woo-woo-based idea that all the viruses and bugs were plugged in his bloodstream because there were so many of them trying to get through at once; that's Diablo Swing Orchestra in a nutshell. There are so many things both right and wrong with this record not even the time-space continuum can comprehend what the hell is going on, and I frankly feel the same. I can go either way on this one, so give this a listen if you're an experimental freak, but expect a plethora of strangeness and don't have high expectations. It's very possible they will get smashed.
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