Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pacifisticuffs (Review)


Back in the 90's, your author was admittedly a "metal purist" (or more fashionably, "metal elitist"). Anything that didn't represent the spirit of metal in its purist form was outcast, listed as "false" or "not metal." Age, wisdom and curiosity - which is normally the precursor to discarding old interests in their entirety - only expanded the interest, allowing in so many different genres of music and "forbidden" subgenres of "heavy music." The expansion has only made appreciation for that which is "true" much more enhanced.

There has been a soft spot in your old metal rudder's heart for bands like Russkaja, Kontrust and Diablo Swing Orchestra. The Swedish avant-garde act captured my attention with "Pandora's Piñata" and its enrapturing opening number "Voodoo Mon Amour." On "Pacifisticuffs," the band is at its bold, trailblazing best with more jazz, more swing and just more bizarre in general. This is what you want from Diablo Swing Orchestra, if only in small doses.

The key to Diablo Swing Orchestra's captivating sound is the stunning ability to come across like a roaring 20's swing band driven mad by the anger of modern music. Its bold direction and sheer audacity to explore nearly every realm of music and blend it together can be both intoxicating and annoying. This isn't an insult, just the product of jarring horns. The album has so much good going for it - whether through the terrific cello piece of "Ode to the Innocent" dominated by Kristin Evegård's audacious vocals (a mix of vaudeville and pop), or the wondrous and brazen swing classic "Karma Bonfire," the symphonic "order from chaos" chorus of "Lady Clandestine Chainbreaker" or the modern swing/pop mash of "Jigsaw Hustle."

However, there is a grating side to the album like the amorphous polka/jazz number "The Age Of Vulture Culture," which meanders a too much with little excitement. If you are looking for a "heavy" track - the highly entertaining "Superhero Jagganath" is sure to please.

For a once pure metalhead, I find myself both riveted and fascinated by Diablo Swing Orchestra's chaotic and brilliant style, but can only take the madness for 15-20 minutes at a clip. Just like the first time I heard them, every fiber of my metal being wants to hate them - but the overwhelming catchiness and the band's aversion to any standard is much too hard to resist as a fan of music. The band's swing metal insanity is the perfect seasoning to your metal playlist, especially when book-ended by traditional and death metal, but without coming off like purely a novelty act. This is not a release for the pure metalhead, it dares way too much and offers far too little "metal." "Pacifisticuffs" is a feast for the ears for those who love energetic music that continually pushes boundaries. Diablo Swing Orchestra continues to forge a path as the evil alter ego of the Brian Setzer Orchestra.

7.5/10 HAILS

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