The Butcher's Ballroom might be the debut from Diablo Swing Orchestra, but the story started long before 2006, it started in 1501 to be precise: "The history tells the tale of an orchestra that played like no other. With music so seductive and divine that the ensemble overwhelmed audiences all over the country, and people from all social classes took them to their hearts. However, the church disapproved of the orchestras influence on the people and the orchestras' extensive use of the prohibited tritonus interval and accused them of being devil worshipers and eventually they was sentenced to death by hanging. But before doing so they all signed a pact saying that their descendants were given the task of reuniting the orchestra in 500 years and continue their work of spreading thought-provoking music. Six envelopes were therefore sealed and given to trustees of the orchestra to pass on to family members. And by 2001, it was time for the Diablo Swing Orchestra to resurrect."
OK, I do not know how much of this is story you believe to be true, I leave that up to yourself to decide. Nevertheless, it sets the tone right and fits the music perfectly. The music from Diablo Swing Orchestra feels to be of the forbidden kind; mysterious and impossible to resist as if the devil had hooked his grip on you. It is very rarely I can say that an album sounds like nothing I have ever heard before, but I'll be damned if I cannot say it this time. This sounds like nothing I have ever heard before and furthermore, I have not been able to stop listening to it since it came in my possession.
It is not an easy task to describe this album, but I will do my best to do this theatrical metal with an uplifting spirit justice. The opening track Balrog Boogie with lyrics in Latin sounds like twenties swing plugged into to an amplifier, guitars dealing out metal riffs complete with trumpets, strings and a groove that is impossible to resist. Diablo Swing Orchestra have created a grand and theatrical feeling on the album and the inspiration seems to be coming from all over the place, and even if this is basically heavy metal, those elements seem to be the least represented. After a quick glance the less initiated would say that this sounds very much like Nightwish, which is not completely wrong but also far from the truth but the amazing vocals from Annlouice Lögdlund throws you nevertheless in that direction. Similar in voice to Tarja Turunen from Nightwish but damn me if Annlouice is not a notch better.
The music is filled with clever breaks and melodic passages, and that they use cello in such extent as they do really helps to add an orchestral feeling to it all. There is one amazing track after another here, but I wonder if Poetic Pitbull Revolutions is not the most remarkable of them all? With a Mexican sound they unleashe the trumpets backed up by the guitar that makes me think of Western movies and when the mighty chorus arrives it is like freakin' El Mariachi with shredding guitars meets Therion, brilliant and irresistible. So far, we have influences of swing, Mexican music, Nightwish and Therion, and to this we can add jazz, waltz, progressive metal, a bit of melancholia, and from the song Zodiac Virtues I get a vibe of Muse, and this is not all. You could easily think that this would make the music stray away but that never happens, since Diablo Swing Orchestra manage to keep it all together and succeed in holding a red line through the entire album with the sound. As in the closing song Pink Noise Waltz when they combines metal with waltz, nordic melancholic folk and jazz and it just feels so natural.
At the same time as this is skilled musicianship with a mature and intelligent song writing, there is also a feeling of youthful playfulness in this band. And I feel that no matter how much and for how long I keep on writing, words cannot do this band justice, they must be heard. If you have an open mind and the appetite for something new, something fresh, and something that is cleverly done - Diablo Swing Orchestra is the band for you.