Diablo Swing Orchestra - Swagger & Stroll Down The Rabbit Hole review
|Band:||Diablo Swing Orchestra|
|Album:||Swagger & Stroll Down The Rabbit Hole|
|Release date:||November 2021|
01. Sightseeing In The Apocalypse
02. War Painted Valentine
03. Celebremos Lo Inevitable
04. Speed Dating An Arsonist
05. Jig Of The Century
06. The Sound Of An Unconditional Surrender
07. Malign Monologues
08. Out Came The Hummingbirds
09. Snake Oil Baptism
10. Les Invulnérables
11. Saluting The Reckoning
12. The Prima Donna Gauntlet
13. Overture To A Ceasefire
"Cease fire! We spit fire! Sit back and watch it backfire!"
So I did, and so I saw. It backfired on them.
Diablo Swing Orchestra has been one of the bigger names within the avant-garde boundaries of metal for a while now. I’m still in absolute awe every time I listen to their debut. In fact, their first 3 albums form a trilogy of some of the most entertaining and playful metal-related music I've ever heard. The “riot opera” D:S:O (not to be confused with the other great DSO) created on those records remains fresh, wild, inventive, aggressive and seductive even to this day.
I lost touch with them since the release of their 2017 opus Pacifisticuffs as it left a weird taste in my mouth. While the departure of soprano Annlouice Lögdlund was sorely mourned by yours truly, I thought Kristin Evegård provided a fresh new sound that beautifully matched the band’s quirkiness. The main problem I had with that album was that a certain aggression, a feeling of being able to let loose, was missing. It relied too much on symphonic influences, making the release too orchestral, predictable and lacking bite. I wanted those beautiful riots!
After the solemn, Queen-inspired opening track we are blasted by “War Painted Valentine” which is one of the feistiest tracks the band has released. The tribal drums and heavy riffing set a dangerous atmosphere that is intoxicating and very charismatic. It’s also a great example of how the rhythm section has always been one of the biggest highlights in D:S:O’s career, often being the main factor that adds high amounts of energy and catchiness to their music. The maddening jump of genres includes tracks like the sensual bolero-metal “Celebremos Lo Inevitable”, the ridiculous electro swing of “Speed Dating an Arsonist”, the violent EBM of “Out Came The Hummingbirds”, and the groovy as hell Zeppelin/Soul/Cabaret sonic meteor “Snake Oil Baptism”. One could argue that D:S:O are trying a bit too hard on picking different genres for each song. It is a valid point to make, but I honestly commend this band for trying to push boundaries, sounding coherent while doing so, and having fun doing it (and on the topic of fun, I just want to say that I deeply love their whacky song titles, this album keeps the tradition).
Swagger & Stroll Down The Rabbit Hole, has more bite than its predecessor. It sounds more aggressive, unhinged, playful, catchy, varied and also, hmm, really awful.
I’m not talking about the songs themselves. D:S:O’s songwriting skills have always been top-notch. A fact they cemented already in their early days. I’m not talking about the performance, either. The whole band comes together flawlessly, while also shining as individuals with incredible talent. The problem lies in the production, mastering, mixing, just everything that doesn’t have to do with the actual songs and band. Dear lord, look how they massacred these songs! This isn’t about sounding clean or polished. For a great, muddy-sounding avant-garde metal example, I’d point you to The Meads Of Asphodel. In this case, it is more about the songs sounding so compressed you think they are just rough tapes coming from another room. Like using opaque lenses to shoot a beautifully acted and written movie. Like downloading a 100×100 JPEG of a renaissance painting and resizing the poor thing to 500×500, frame it and call it a day. This drags the songs down so much. The intense riffs and percussion get lost through the thin and choppy production, as if one of my speakers just broke. The intricate and delicate layers get lost or sound cheaply added. This is far from the worst I’ve heard, but it is particularly baffling coming from such an experienced band.
Swagger & Stroll Down The Rabbit Hole is a great album that sounds unfinished. This release sees Diablo Swing Orchestra as a band that consists of excellent musicians who use a fantastic range of influences to write great songs through shitty production. That’s three positive things out of four. If you think 3 / 4 isn’t a bad score at all, then you clearly never sat on a chair with a broken leg before.
||Written on 24.11.2021 by An extremely lazy reviewer but he's so cute you'd forgive him for it.|
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