#TBT: DIABLO SWING ORCHESTRA Capture Lightning in a Bottle with The Butcher’s Ballroom

00000yh74Welcome to Throwback Thursday! This is the place where we get to indulge in nostalgia and wax poetic about excellent metal of years past. Today’s 95th TBT brings us a vivacious group of devils that made the impossible possible with their debut album.


Release Date: 2006
Record Label: Gillioutine Grooves

Few albums are as wonderfully overwhelming as The Butcher’s Ballroom. From an unassuming jazzy beginning, The Butcher’s Ballroom explodes into a raucous, metal-tinged good time. Listening to The Butcher’s Ballroom feels dream-like, as if you’ve fallen deep below into an underground speak-easy – a speak easy run by saucy, spectacular demons and other-worldly folk. The environment is so immersive, you can practically feel the suspicious glares and see the cigar smoke high in the room, lit only by bright stage lamps and small tabletop candles.

Vocals ranging from operatic highs and hushed, seductive lows move the tracks along in both tone and intensity, as do the myriad of both traditional and nontraditional symphonic instruments. Aggressive cello lines underlie somber, melancholic violin in tracks like „Heroin“. „Poetic Pitbull Revolution“ combines a Mariachi-style guitar with a shredding metal lead, chunky distorted riffs, and blaring trumpet.

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The Butcher’s Ballroom dances gracefully around what could have be a trope-y, image-driven disaster full of upright basses, sleeveless leather jackets, and token ‚hot chicks‘. Instead of aimless genre mashing for the sake of composing an extreme track, The Butcher’s Ballroom is full of actual cohesive, interesting songs. The vocals are never over-wrought, the guitars never too shreddy, the melodies never too spastic. The mix of themes is bombastic but well-executed, resulting in popular tracks such as „Balrog Boogie“.

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It’s tough to say exactly what genre Diablo Swing Orchestra fall into. The Butcher’s Ballroom reflects genres from symphonic metal to 70’s prog, classical to Spanish-influenced, jazz to avant-garde; one reviewer even labeled it ‚riot opera‘.  Standout track „Pink Noise Waltz“ exemplify what Diablo Swing Orchestra manage to pull off over and over again so successfully – two juxtaposing musical ideologies married together in intense, intoxicating riffage:

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And no, the band isn’t solely metal but they do have a darker sound and fantastic lyrical imagery which compliments the wild depths of our beloved genre. Dramatic and imaginative, Diablo Swing Orchestra create an unforgettable atmosphere backed by groovy, crunchy guitars and rebellious stringed instruments.

I am struck with the vocalist on the album who chooses to, at time, go full-blown Epica-level orchestral vibrato. But part of the magic of this album comes from the restraint from Lisa Hansson’s voice. There are a lot of dynamics from her to enjoy, along side the song styles, that contribute to make The Butcher’s Ballroom a true success.

For a debut album, The Butcher’s Ballroom is truly a remarkable piece of work. Unfortunately for Diablo Swing Orchestra, this magic doesn’t hold. Each subsequent album which came out after The Butcher’s Ballroom takes a dip from the high bar of excellence that this album set. They’re not bad albums, especially 2012’s Pandora’s Pinata; However, something about The Butcher’s Ballroom embraces the listener and doesn’t let go.

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Author: Slyzza