Pandora's Piñata

“Diablo Swing Orchestra could be Tim Burton’s dream band” – Outburn

“Diablo Swing Orchestra are a Swedish band straight out of a Tom Waits nightmare. They sound exactly like their name suggests, making dirty, raucous swing, updated with some punky power chords, but the operatic Swedish vocals and nearly death-metal growls separate the band from the swing revivalists of the late ’90s. Definitely not the kind of band one would expect coming out of a Scandinavian country. But hell, there’s no rule that says creepers and fuzzy dice don’t go well with Viking helmets.” – Lost At E Minor

The music of Sweden’s Diablo Swing Orchestra is unlike any other group on the planet. Their music is an eclectic mash up of metal, opera, swing jazz, tango, and spaghetti western soundtrack. DSO is fronted by the glass shattering voice of Annelouice Wolgers, a metal queen at night but an actual opera singer by day.

The band’s third album, Pandora’s Pinata, finds the band expanded into an 8 piece lineup with the permanent addition of two horn players. The new album is a smörgåsbord of different levels of musical insanity building on the foundation laid down on their previous album, Sing Along Songs For The Damned And Delerious.

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  • "From the moment the jagged riffing of "Prayer" begins to pour out of the speakers, one thing is quite clear: Disturbed has learned to cut the fat. Their first record was a massively heavy affair, but at times the music was mired in somewhat needless passages. But on Believe, Disturbed takes the sort of jump that their heroes in Soundgarden and Pantera made after their respective breakthrough records. No longer depending on the choppy tempos and percussion-based riffing of the past, guitarist Dan Donegan has made great strides in expanding their sound to include more varied guitar work all around. Take the title track, which moves from a brutal chug to a sweeping chorus that suddenly stops in its tracks and turns into a winding riff that recalls the work of vintage James Hetfield. It's great stuff, the kind of audible theatrics that makes good heavy metal so visceral and potent. Draiman makes an appreciated and notable effort to stretch his vocal boundaries as well, and his performance is one of the most improved of the band. His clear wail is a more emotive vessel this time, while his gravel-throated bark still adds the trademark harsh element to the sound. All of this adds up to a deeply melodic, at times even beautiful treatment of the genre; the kind of record that makes a metalhead proud to be a metalhead. Highlights include the epic and slightly tragic "Remember," Draiman's savage yammering on "Liberate," the dynamic flip-flopping between razor-sharp aggression and spiritual contemplation on "Rise," and the understated power ballad "Darkness." Certain songs do sound a bit too much like other bands for their own good, but this is out of hero worship more than a lack of originality and doesn't affect anything significantly. In the end, Believe is a satisfying slab of aggression from front to back, filled with enough muscle and brains to render the minor faults irrelevant. Where many of the bands that came out at the same time have proved to be one-album wonders, Believe is proof positive that Disturbed is a force of metal that's here to stay." - Allmusic Guide
    $6.00
  • Fourth album from this Norwegian band is a near perfect blend of power and progressive metal. Each successive album has been better than the previous one - this one tops 'em all. Killer vox, crunch that is off the charts, blasts of synth and stellar production is the best way to sum of this monster. This is the 2 CD limited edition. It comes with 6 bonus tracks, mpeg video, wallpaper and other stuff. Grab it while it's available at a great price.
    $11.00
  • Special edition CD/DVD set arrives in a digipak. The bonus DVD contains Steven Wilson's mixes: DTS 5.1, Dolby AC3 5.1 and 24/48 Stereo LPCM tracks (no idea why it's not 24/96). You also get a lot of documentary footage as well.This should probably suck but it actually doesn't. Because of a rift between Ian Anderson and Martin Barre this is being put into the market as "Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson". As you by now surmise this is a musical sequel to the original album. Again its a concept album updating us on the life of the main character Gerald Bostock. In live performance, Anderson's voice is shot. Within the context of the studio recording he plays it smart and never takes his voice where it doesn't want to go. Lots of Hammond organ and flute gives it the authentic 70s Tull flavor. Admittedly my expectations were pretty low but I have to say that this is far better than it has any right to be.
    $24.00
  • Budget priced but nice slipcased set includes both the "Solution" and "Divergence" albums complete. [[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"12256","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"200","width":"200"}}]][[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_large","fid":"12255","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image","height":"200","width":"200"}}]]   
    $14.00
  • "One of the most elegantly complex and fully realized of the "difficult" Italian classics, Melos is for fans of the Osanna, Balletto di Bronzi, RRR, and Semiramis styles. I have a hunch that fans of Crimson, VDGG, and Gentle Giant will also approve. It will probably be less appreciated by fans of the gentler and more accessible bands like Celeste and Locanda delle Fate. The musical approach and the sound are very sophisticated and unique. A combination of primarily guitars, flutes and saxes are tightly woven into a very dense, often dark, unsettling, and just plain eerie feel. Some sources say there are no (or very little) keyboards used to create this sound palette which is certainly unusual. Sometimes I think I hear some but I can't be sure the way the other instruments are employed. It took me many plays to really get past the rather exhausting outer shell and discover the melodies hiding inside and now I just cannot get enough of this excellent material. This band from Naples was related to the Osanna band via the Rustici brothers, the younger one in Cervello was another example of how the very young were leaders in the Italian scene back then. Corrado Rustici was but a teenager when the band recorded Melos in Milan back in 1973. While Osanna's big album "Palepoli" generally gets the most attention my personal view is that "Melos" is a better album. While not as trippy as the wildly freaky "Palepoli" I feel that Melos is more overtly musical and more genuinely satisfying in the long run.Juan at ItalianProg describes the Cervello sound like this: "There is great deal of excellent acoustic guitar work and mellotron-like sounds created by the saxophones. The vocals coupled with the acoustic guitar and flutes hypnotize the listener into a technical yet fluid atmosphere so the music then breaks into a frenzy full of sax and adventurous guitar playing. The tempo and mood change from calm and melodic to violent and bizarre (interweaving between scales). No keyboards present, but they are not needed due to the "cerebral" arrangements these musicians have created for us on this album."[Juan Carlos Lopez] In another great review Warren Nelson sums up the sound perfectly: ".with soaring and complex melodies, compelling and angular instrumental passages culminating in some aggressive individual performances, all weaved together in a tapestry of beautiful and emotional musical syncopation. One of the few Italian prog releases without a prominent keyboard arsenal, the rich sound of this band is achieved with powerful drumming, multiple woodwinds, and intelligent scaler runs on guitar. But not least of all are the typically emotionally powerful vocals. Dynamic change-ups and exquisite group interaction complete another example of one of the finest Italian progressive albums you will ever hear."[Warren Nelson]My own take on the specific tracks: "Canto Del Capro" begins with layers of flutes over what sounds like a foghorn and cymbal splashes moving left to right in the stereo spectrum. Soon an acoustic guitar precedes delightfully freaky operatic style vocals like only the Italians can do. A thrilling opening. Suddenly the drums kick in and you think it might be "normal" for a bit but soon these ungodly compressed vocals rattle your eardrums. Strange acoustic and electric guitar flares round out the rest of this unsettling start. "Trittico" is an enchanting initially with sentimental flute melody, acoustic and vocal. Eventually a crazy sax and percussion crash the party for a bit before the soft opening style returns with additional guitar noodlings. After a brief fade the end section is a bizarre cacophony of choral voices. My one complaint is wishing the bass were a bit more clear and upfront, sometimes it is distant and muddy but it's a minor nitpick. "Euterpe" begins with acoustic and flutes again in a warm and inviting mood. This eventually leads into the full band jamming with a real e-guitar and saxophone workout. "Scinsicne" begins with guitar that sounds like it came from an outtake of "Astronomy Domine!" In comes great flute and bass interplay and then vocals which are another strong point on this album. As the band comes on full the saxes jump into the fray and the sound gets brutal. At 3:48 is one of my favorite parts of the album, these mutant bizarre sounds and drums that mimic some sinister funeral dirge. This is followed by a maniacal e-guitar solo. "Melos" features great flute and sax workouts again with another Rustici axe thrashing at the end. "Galassia" is a feast of inventive vocal interludes over beautifully played acoustic guitars. Dabbles of flute precede a full blown e-guitar freakout challenged by pursuing sax and percussion attacks. You'll need a shower after this track. "Affresco" is a rather traditional sounding closer piece, very short and there just to bring you gently back to Earth after your cerebral pummeling.I guess the reason I light up the magic star 5 would be this: Even when listening to most good albums it is evident that I am doing just that. I'm listening to a collection of songs that are just too structured and I know what is coming. They might light up my pleasure center and my brain says "oh that's a good song, let me listen to more of the same!" Melos does not allow me to stagnate. It's more like eavesdropping on someone's thoughts (presented musically) than listening to the next "killer song, dude." Their thoughts or perhaps their nightmares in this case with everything being so strange, the album starts and it's like this bizarre trip occurs. Even some of my favorite albums are relatively predictable but not Melos. With each play I still wonder what the hell is going on. It still pushes my buttons and challenges me, my definition of a genuinely progressive album. That's not the only way an album can get 5 stars from me but it is one way.This is one of the Italian albums you hear people describe as "harsh" and you might hate it the first several times you listen. Don't get discouraged. Put it away and spin it every other month..like many of the best prog albums you may end up loving it a year from now. That's how it was for me-a real grower. But while many of us are thrilled by this album it is not universally loved in the way that PFM is. It's rather confrontational sonic style does have its detractors so read plenty of reviews before you take the plunge. In my book this is essential for Italian fans and recommended for fans of stuff like "Red" era Crimson. Try to find the Japanese mini-lp sleeve edition which features decent sound and a high quality reproduction of the cool artwork. I love the cover of this album..fantastic stuff!" - ProgArchives
    $11.00
  • Recorded during the band's live performance residency in Tokyo, this is a complete rendition of the first album, Storia Di Un Minuto."To celebrate the 40 years anniversary of "L'isola di niente", PFM have recorded an incredible series of live albums, where they play the original first 5 LPs tracklist in its entirety for the first time ever. This energetic new version it is called "Un minuto" features the first historic LP "Storia di un minuto" with all its fantastic tracks including, for the first time, "Grazie davvero", never played live before.Released in CD papersleeve, "Un minuto" is part of a series which includes the first PFM's five albums reproduced live, to be collected in an elegant box called "Il suono del tempo"."
    $19.00
  • I'm going to get straight to the point.  If you are a fan of female fronted metal you must own this album.  The Human Contradiction is a complete triumph.  It finds the band returning a bit to their roots.  There are still poppy elements - that's part of their core sound - but there is a heaviness that will remind you of Lucidity.  Nightwish's Marco Hietala returns contributing on clean vocals. Also back is Orphanage vocalist George Oosthoek who is one of the best growlers in the metal scene.  Arch Enemy vocalist Alissa White-Gluz makes a guest appearance.Timo Somers' guitar riffs are chunkier, Charlotte's voice is impeccable as always, and Martijn's keyboards are simply epic.  The album was recorded at Studio Fredman and sounds massive.  Weaving the whole album together is a sci-fi theme borrowed from the writings of Octavia Butler.This is an album filled with a enough earworm hooks to drive you crazy but at the same time its heavy!  For my taste its a top 10 album for 2014.  BUY OR DIE!Limited edition 2CD mediabook edition.  The bonus CD contains 2 additional new studio tracks as well as live tracks and two orchestral versions of tracks from The Human Contradiction.  Essential.
    $16.00
  • US version with 3 bonus tracks."The shady stretch of land that exists somewhere between the crossroads of rock, metal, prog, and alternative is one that generates discussion, but not necessarily sales. Fans of Dredg, Oceansize, Cog, and the like have watched countless inspired dissenters of the rock norm leave their mark on music boards and venue bathrooms, only to fizzle into obscurity when radio deemed their playful idiosyncrasies just a little too off-putting. There is a certain burden any group that shakes off standard typecasts faces, yet, with the Australian music scene abuzz with newly recognized talent, and the current popularity of all things delay-driven, it’s an interesting time to be a band like Brisbane’s Dead Letter Circus.In a recent editorial Vince wrote about Tesseract, he echoed a sentiment I’ve long held: the current line of alternative progressive bands might just be the perfect “something for everyone” presence heavy music has needed to escape the rigid confines of the underground.It is difficult to shake the sense, in listening to Dead Letter Circus’s sophomore album, The Catalyst Fire, that the term “alternative rock” does no justice to them, and that there are a whole lot of people who could conceivably enjoy the crap out of this work.Dead Letter Circus already proved that touring with significantly heavier bands (the likes of which include Animals as Leaders, Intronaut, Last Chance to Reason, and Monuments) posed no challenge to winning over fans who would normally avoid anything quite so digestible, and with the impeccable song craft and memorable hooks on display in The Catalyst Fire, I think it’s only a matter of time before the people standing on the other side of the aisle also take notice.The first things that standout on any number of these tunes are Kim Benzie’s explosive tenor vocals and the big, shimmering walls of sound his band mates house them in. Benzie has the kind of voice that is perfect for this style of music—familiar, but never readily traceable to a sum of affected influences. His range alone is impressive, but his ability to weave it into inescapably catchy melodic motifs with intelligent messaging behind them is paramount to DLC’s universal appeal.Of course vocals alone are not the full package; this is passionate, high-energy music, and the band behind Benzie just kills it. As with This is The Warning, the group’s instrumental voice consists of delay-blasted, tremolo-heavy guitar leads jousting with one of the growliest bass tones in rock music and an ever-stimulating rhythmic presence that never feels “in the way.” Luke Williams shows off more than a little of [The Mars Volta's] Jon Theodore’s influence in his nutty patterns, but by keeping them within the architecture of 4/4 time he never detracts from the immediacy of his surroundings.This package is all further elevated by Australian production ace Forrester Savell (Karnivool, The Butterfly Effect), who returns for his second project with the band. His distinctive mix style of “rhythm guitar in the background— everything else upfront” plays a pivotal role in what makes Dead Letter Circus sound so friggin’ huge and heavy without sounding like a metal band.High praise aside, it’s worth acknowledging that very little has changed in the group’s formula. The Catalyst Fire is just another batch of very tightly written and memorable songs, with all of the group’s strengths made readily apparent. Despite having two new guitarists in the band’s ranks (following the departure of founding member Rob Maric), the aforementioned stylistic elements that made This is The Warning successful remain firmly in place.There does, however, seem to be more of an effort made to vary things up on this work. Where the group’s debut, at times, felt a little too consistent in its approach, The Catalyst Fire sees Dead Letter Circus shuffling out the constant adrenaline of songs like “Stand Apart” and the single “Lodestar” for contemplative slowburners to the tune of “The Veil” and “I Am.” One could argue that the group has become a little comfortable with the harmonic framework of their choosing, but it would be difficult to imagine them conveying the same feeling in their music outside of their beloved major-flavored-minor key progressions.As a whole, The Catalyst Fire, is darker and snappier in its execution than This is The Warning, making for a subtle evolution of an already very strong base. Also, the fact that Karnivool recently made a serious deviation from their relative norm makes a more immediate and urgent sounding release from the Dead Letter folks all too welcome in 2013. I have little doubt that those in the metal and prog worlds who dug the group’s first release will have no trouble rekindling the flame with The Catalyst Fire, but with a little marketing muscle, this could be the vehicle that makes Dead Letter Circus an “anybody band,” and a damn good one at that." - Metal Sucks
    $12.00
  • Remastered with 3 bonus tracks."Electric Light Orchestra continued on their winning Top 40 ways with the release of Discovery. Now pared down to the basic four-piece unit, Jeff Lynne continued to dominate the band and they still got their hits (this time around it was the smash "Don't Bring Me Down"). Elsewhere on the disc there was, of note, "Last Train to London" and "Confusion." Though Discovery charted well, it was becoming obvious that ELO were starting to run themselves out of useful Beatles hooks with which to fuel their hit-making machine." - Allmusic
    $5.00
  • Domestic release. One of two new albums released by Edguy's Tobias Sammet under the Avantasia moniker. Similar to what Arjen Lucassen does with his Ayreon projecdts, Sammet brings together some of the best vocalists and musicians from the metal world to create an over the top symphonic power metal concept album. Featured vocalists include Russell Allen (Symphony X), Jorn Lande (Masterplan), Michael Kiske (Helloween), Tim Owens , Klaus Meine (Scorpions), Andre Matos, Bob Catley and others. Featured performers include Bruce Kulick and Eric Singer (Kiss), Oliver Hartmann, Alex Holzwarth. Curiously, the second volume is called Angel Of Babylon and is not yet scheduled for a US release. We hope to have the import in stock soon.
    $13.00
  • "Their debut album, Dreamboat Annie, was first released in Canada and then in the United States on February 14, 1976. It was an immediate hit, reaching number seven on the United States album charts, and achieved a platinum award for sales.At this point in its career, Heart was still a band, but the Wilson sisters had already begun to exert control. They co-wrote wrote nine of the 10 tracks on the record and wrote the remaining track with the rest of the band. In addition, Ann, as the lead vocalist, was the centerpiece and main focus of the band.It was an auspicious first album. The music had a rawer feel than their later polished sound that would propel them to further stardom. It was hard rock with a bluesy sound mixed in. It all added up to one of the better debut albums of the seventiesThe album's first track was the Top 10 hit single “Magic Man.” Ann Wilson’s vocal immediately grabs you. It was instantly recognized that she possessed one of those rare voices that was a gift. The other Top 40 single, “Crazy On You,” was an anxious and urgent rocker. The acoustic intro led to a building electric guitar sound with a repeated riff that continued throughout the song.There is a lot to like about the album. “Soul Of The Sea” is a nice guitar ballad with strings. “White Lightning and Wine” is a bluesy rocker and a forgotten gem in their large catalog of material. “Sing Child,” which is the only group composition on the album, has a guitar jam in the middle that presents early Heart as a true band. “How Deep It Goes” is another rock/blues outing.When this debut effort was first released, it seemed as if Heart just appeared on the music scene out of nowhere. Thirty-four years later, the Wilson sisters are now recognized as lasting rock superstars. If you want to explore the music of Heart, Dreamboat Annie is the place to start." - Seattle Pi
    $7.00
  • Official (?) release of a live performance that has been circulating among tape traders for decades.  This was a live in the studio performance recorded for the BBC in 1973 in front of an invited audience.  Its a classic gig that features Wishbone Ash's Andy Powell on Ashes Are Burning along with Al Stewart.
    $14.00
  • 2CD edition comes with a bonus live disc recorded at the Loud Park 2010 festival."Taking a cue from where post-psychedelic and hard rock left off in the seventies before our hard rock heroes either went disco or into questionable directions, Spiritual Beggars’ picks up the pieces, just like Grunge did in its heyday; but adding a little more balls to the mix as an authentic force to be reckoned with. A supergroup featuring members of Arch Enemy, Opeth, Firewind, Carcass, and other extensions, the amped up sound of this Swedish powerhouse throws the pretentious mannerisms of out of the mix, gaining them a status that has created a solid dichotomy between them and many other stoner rock bands.Even as these guys are native to extreme and symphonic metal bands, the tunage gets to the point, reflecting Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, Blue Oyster Cult and early-Priest, as the heavy blues & R&B flavored upbeat moods have always raised the roof. Inflamed by grinding riffage and screaming Hammond organ, Earth Blues again sees Spiritual Beggars taking no retreat from their enigmatic rock and roll feast. The opening track “Wise as a Serpent” immediately spurs the dark groove into power pop territories, yet more intricate sides are heard on the multi-faceted “Sweet Magic Pain” & the dark 1-2 punch of “Kingmaker,” both offering up a salvo of to a Sabotage-meets-Agents of Fortune attitude. Without reckless abandon, these guys also explore a psych/funk mindset on “Turn the Tide,” plus you have “One Man’s Curse” which could have been a long last tune from Come Taste the Band.Even on the ballad “Dreamer” and the low key rocker “Dead End Town,” the band flexes their ideology the same way Zeppelin did at times; and that ideology is further expressed by way of  a set of live tracks on a bonus disc, proving they can hit the road with the attitude to kick ass. Still, whatever way you hear Spiritual Beggars, there will be no denying that their solid foundation of hard rock possesses intrigue, forgoing all the poser musicianship and letting the songs, the true grit of emotion, and the conviction to simply rock out speak loud for Earth Blues. Heavy, commanding, & sophisticated, Spiritual Beggars continue to map out their presence with bold, sharp, & gripping, metallic grandeur, affording no shame whatsoever." - Ytsejam.com
    $14.00
  • At War With Self - sounds more like a psychological diagnosis than a band! This new group is an instrumental power prog trio leaping onto the progressive scene. The project is the brainchild of guitarist / multi-instrumentalist Glenn Snelwar. Torn Between Dimensions, the band's debut recording, features Snelwar on guitar, mandolin, and keyboards; Michael Manring on fretless bass and e-bow; and Fates Warning's Mark Zonder on drums and percussion. Zonders solidly tasty drumming firmly anchors the trio along with the melodically propulsive bass work of Manring, all wonderfully adorned by Snelwars fierce playing. The band serves up intense, emotional pieces in a wide variety of musical styles. Snelwars intention is to open doors to listeners who may be unfamiliar with progressive rock, classical guitar or metal. At War With Self have an equal passion for such diverse types of music as progressive and metal bands like King Crimson, Voivod and Pink Floyd; classical composers such as Bartok and Villa Lobos; as well as bluegrass and jazz. Torn Between Dimensions takes these influences and combines them into something undeniably progressive and strikingly original. The end result is a dense wall of sound, with different textures and feels within each number, one song flowing seamlessly into the next.Guitarist Glenn Snelwar is perhaps best known for his contributions to Gordian Knots eponymous debut, a project led by Chapman Stick player Sean Malone that featured guest performances by Trey Gunn (King Crimson), Sean Reinert (Cynic) & John Myung (Dream Theater). Snelwar helped co-write three of the songs for Gordian Knot, as well as contributing guitar work. Since his involvement with Gordian Knot, Snelwar has been incorporating mandolin, keyboard and string section programming into a foundation of classical, steel string and electric guitar arrangements to great effect. Michael Manring is a world-renowned, Grammy-nominated bassist who has appeared on over 100 studio projects, including recording and performing with Michael Hedges and Attention Deficit Disorder (with former Primus drummer Tim "Herb" Alexander). Michaels fretless bass parts play a vital role on Torn Between Dimensions, melodic but never overwhelming. For over 15 years, Mark Zonder occupied the drum stool for progressive metal legends Fates Warning. As Zonders fans would expect, he continues to push new boundaries on Torn Between Dimensions. Marks playing on the disc covers a lot of territory - from double bass drumming and odd time signatures, to jazz and Middle Eastern flavors. Snelwar describes Torn Between Dimensions as a concept album, but not in the strict sense of the word. I wanted to create a collection of songs where each would stand on its own, but exist as part of a greater whole. I strived to create something that would impact the listener, and incorporate many stylistic influences. Torn Between Dimensions is a tour de force of powerful, fluid prog rock that should appeal to progheads and rock fanatics alike! Torn Between Dimensions is housed in a digipak and features stunning artwork from noted surrealist Travis Smith.
    $5.00