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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  • 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
  • Let me preface my observations of the CTTE remix by saying that I don’t put these classic albums on a pedestal.  If they can be sonically improved while remaining faithful to the original mix and maintaining musicality and the emotional content then I’m all for it.  In general I liked what Steven Wilson did with the King Crimson catalog.  I was particularly impressed by his reconstruction and resurrection of Lizard.  When I heard he was tackling the Yes catalog I was hopeful because if there was ever a band that could use some sonic wizardry its Yes.  Eddy Offord was never able to bring the magic to their mixes that he was able to give to ELP.So how did Steven Wilson do with CTTE?  I can only use one word to describe the new mix: “transformative”.  CTTE was an album cobbled together from various bits and pieces.  Its widely acknowledged to be the band’s best album (its certainly my opinion) but in terms of sonics it fell victim to the “too many cooks” syndrome.  The original mix was a bit of a mess.  Its all changed now.The one thing that is immediately apparent is the foundation provided by Chris Squire’s bass.  It reaches the pits of hell and if Mr. Wilson is going to take this approach with TFTO and Relayer he’s got my vote.  In general there is a veil of schmutz that has been wiped away.  All the instruments have more clarity and focus in the soundstage.  “I Get Up I Get Down” was chilling.  I found the soundstage consistently extended beyond the boundaries of my speakers.  The mix is warm, involving and there is a balance among the instruments that I found lacking in the original mix - primarily because of Squire’s bass being given a shot of adrenaline.  Jaw dropping stuff.  The bonus track of “America” had exceptional, dare I say audiophile sound.So the obvious question is - what sounds better - this mix or the SACD?  I dunno.  I can’t find my bloody SACD to compare…but here is my memory of the SACD.  When I got it I played it through.  It didn’t overwhelm me or disappoint me.  My thought was “its fine...it is what it is - this is the best it will ever sound in the digital domain”.  I was wrong.  BUY OR DIE!  FORMAT: 1 x CD/1 x Blu-RayCD:1  Close to the Edge2  And You And I3  Siberian KhatruBonus Tracks:4  America5  Close to the EdgeBlu-Ray:Presented in DTS-HD Master Audio– Album mixed in 5.1 Surround– New Album mix– Original Album  mix (flat transfer)– New Album mix (instrumental version)– America original, new & instrumental stereo mixes & 5.1 Surround + further audio extras some exclusive to Blu-Ray edition• Close to the Edge is the first in a series of remixed & expanded Yes Classics• The classic album has been mixed for 5.1 Surround Sound from the original studio masters by Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree) & is fully approved by Yes.• CD features a completely new stereo album mix by Steven Wilson• CD also features a new mix of America• CD also features an early mix/assembly of Close to the Edge• Blu-Ray features 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio Surround (24bit/96khz) mixed from the original multi-channel recordings.• Blu-Ray features the new stereo album mix in DTS-HD Master Audio (24bit/96khz).• Blu-Ray also features the original album mix & America in a DTS-HD Master Audio flat transfers from the original master tape source. (24bit/192khz)• Blu-Ray exclusively features instrumental versions of all new mixes in DTS-HD Master Audio stereo (24bit/96khz).• Blu-Ray also exclusively features a needle-drop of an original UK vinyl A1/B1 pressing transferred in 24bit/96khz audio.• Numerous audio extras appear in high-resolution stereo including single edits & studio run throughs of album tracks• Original artwork by Roger Dean who has also overseen the artwork for this new edition• Presented as a mini vinyl replica gatefold card sleeve with booklet containing new sleeve notes, rare photos & archive material.“Close to the Edge” is the first in a series of expanded Yes editions including 5.1 Surround mixes, new stereo mixes & High-Resolution stereo mixes of the original music along with a wealth of extra material. Acclaimed musician/producer Steven Wilson has produced the new mixes with the approval of the band, while Roger Dean reprises his role as art director/designer of the newly issued edition, making this the definitive edition of the album.When Yes entered the studio with Eddie Offord to record the band’s fifth studio album in mid-1972, their second with this line-up, the band was on something of a roll. “Fragile”, the band’s previous album, had taken Yes to a new level of international popularity with Top Ten chart placement on both sides of the Atlantic & yielding a hit single in the USA with ‘Roundabout’. The band was now established in the major music markets to an extent that was, perhaps, unexpected given the complexity of the music Yes performed. But with that popularity came a confidence that the expansive material of the two previous albums could be taken a stage further with the new recording. Rather than consolidating, Yes chose to innovate.Recorded during lengthy sessions at London’s Advision Studios, “Close to the Edge” is that rarity in recorded music, the sound of a band & its individual members writing, playing and recording at the peak of their collective abilities. The album was issued in Autumn 1972 reaching chart highs & platinum sales status of  4 in the UK, 3 in the USA & 1 in Holland, though such statistics only hint at the worldwide popularity of the album over a period of more than four decades. The three pieces of music, the title track which spanned the entire first side of the vinyl album with ‘And You And I’ & ‘Siberian Khatru’ on side two, have remained concert favourites since release, with the 2013 Yes line-up currently in the middle of a world tour stretching into the middle of next year that sees the album performed in its entirety.The album remains the favourite among many of the band’s legion of fans, a defining recording both for the band & for the progressive rock movement. It is also one of the most successful British rock albums ever released.Since this release of “Close to the Edge” was confirmed, the various websites dedicated to Yes, Progressive rock & high-resolution audio have been very active with discussions among fans keen to hear the new mixes & the existing material in its purest audio presentation. 
    $21.00
  • 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
  • "After some high profile releases and particularly impressive ubiquity, the ex-DREAM THEATER / A7X drums God Mike Portnoy is back again with his new musical partner the magnificent Bass Maestro Billy Sheehan (NIACIN / TALAS / DAVID LEE ROTH / MR BIG / STEVE VAI / PSMS), under a power trio format, completed by none other than one of the most gifted Guitarist of his generation once Sharpnel Records alumni Richie Kotzen but this time no instrumental trickery, no instrumental knitting, because Kotzen beside his absolute skilled six strings wizardry is also indeed an hell of a fantastic soulful singer and a very underrated vocalist of the best brand. This is a  supergroup, a Dream Team hell yeah…but mostly a great band.With such a busy time schedule for both workaholics Portnoy & Sheehan, we could have feared a fast almost sloppy affair, luckily with this first album is exactly the opposite. Sheehan & Kotzen were working many years together with MR BIG and in fact the sound of THE WINERY DOGS isn’t that far from what Sheehan, Paul Gilbert , Pat Torpey and Eric Martin have magnificently achieved.The album start with groovy 70s infused blast of “Elevate” and followed by the heavy Funk flavor of “Desire” each track feature an intense rhythmic groove with short but impressive unison synchronized lead bass / lead guitar whirlwind licks of exuberant virtuosity, some unexpected harmonies that coming out of the Jazz-Rock / Rhythm N' Blues recipe book owned by Kotzen, but every song carries most of all a strong focus both on the catchy melodies and on the sing-along hooks which are everywhere boosted by rich Backing vocals (“The Other Side” or “The Dying”) really magnetic & irresistible. Those who are familiar with the prolific superb Kotzen’s discography knows that he’s an hugely skilled songwriter with a lot of style in his arsenal, so THE WINERY DOGS debut album is out of the same tradition as THE MOTHER HEAD'S FAMILLY REUNION, “Not Hopeless” contains however some over the top sharing duo between Richie & Billy, in the real MR BIG's shredding frenzy fashion, like a modern day GRAND FUNK RAILROAD with full injection of high tech dexterity.Cuts like “One More Time” or “Six Feet Deeper” seems to be outtakes from the breath taking 1990s “Fever Dream”, with furious playing and great musicality concentrated for an even more efficiency. The Japan only bonus track, “Criminal” is strangely one of the most commercial song with an almost AOR chorus, a syncopated bridge and another outstanding lead guitar solo spot in two parts with a tasty sound. The closing number “Regret” is the sole composition handled exclusively by Mr. Kotzen: it’s a soul music track with slight Hammond layers and a real harmonious balanced to finish this album in a positive way. The pristine production is powerful and crystal clear, still organic with a strong vintage feel but not muddy, in fact it sounds like how Classic Rock in its purest form should sound in 2013. Just unadulterated genuine Rock played by an exemplary bunch of extremely talented musicians and it’s an understatement.After an imposing huge list of albums and projects under his belt, Mike Portnoy with the help of another all-star lineup show to the incredulous crowd of jealous fellows, how his playing field is broad and how he can multiply in an almost monthly omnipresence the recording with the same prestige and the same success as FLYING COLORS / NEAL MORSE / PSMS / ADRENALINE MOB and the forthcoming BIGELF." - Metal Temple
    $14.00
  • We are late to stock this great disc but now we can offer it at a reasonable price. Dark Suns is a German progressive metal band with a dark side. They skirt the same territory as Green Carnation and Opeth but at the same time there is a strong progressive element that will immediately remind you of Pain Of Salvation. Strong, clean vocals are steeped in drama, heightening the atmospheric, almost spacey, quality of the compositions. If we had stocked this in time this would have been one of our album of the year candidates for 2004 (yeah it's been some time since this was released). If it slipped by your radar make sure you grab it. Highest recommendation.
    $11.00
  • "Here's an unusual progressive-rock project. Spearheaded by drummer François Bernatchez, Qwaarn isn't just the name of a band with members rotating in and out as needed; it's also the main character in the sci-fi-meets-real-world story spanning Aberrations and its predecessor, 2004's The Word of Qwaarn. While some of the Canadian band's influences from that debut album remain on Aberrations (including Genesis and Yes), the new disc is being billed as a "pop-gressive" record by its label, Unicorn Digital, with echoes of The Beatles, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Led Zeppelin, Tears for Fears and The Cure. Didier Berthuit often sings with a heavy accent, and his lengthy carnival-esque soliloquy on "The High Muckity-Mucks" grates after only a few seconds (even though it's meant to be satirical). Guitarists Antoine Bernatchez and Martin Bleau, however, evoke David Gilmour on tracks like "Privilege" and "Dream in Am," and their warm, acoustic material also helps set Aberrations apart from some of the other artists on Unicorn's roster. While the Middle-Eastern flavor of the murky alt-rocker "Mr. Lotto" unveils another side of Qwaarn, the epic "Did You Say Salmon?" proves this collective is first and foremost a progressive-rock band. A bit of an odd progressive-rock band, but a progressive-rock band nonetheless." - sea of tranquility.com
    $15.00
  • "Marbles was originally released on the band's own Racket Records label and attracted a lot of attention when it was released as the album had been funded by donations from fans who had pre-ordered the album before they started recording in return for having their name printed within the album artwork (over 18,000 names). This new 2CD Madfish edition of the album is packed in a deluxe 36 page digibook re-worked by original designer Carl Glover. The book features unseen pictures not used in the original artwork. The tracks on the second disc have previously only been available through the band's own website."
    $13.00
  • "After the breakup of Deep Purple in 1976, guitarist Tommy Bolin wasted little time beginning work on his second solo album, Private Eyes. While it was more of a conventional rock album than its predecessor, Teaser (which served primarily as a showcase for his guitar skills and contained several jazz/rock instrumentals), it was not as potent. The performances aren't as inspired as those on Teaser or even those on Bolin's lone album with Deep Purple, Come Taste the Band, although there a few highlights could be found. The nine-minute rocker "Post Toastee" merges a long jam section with lyrics concerning the dangers of drug addiction, while "Shake the Devil" is similar stylistically. But Bolin wasn't simply a hard-rocker; he was extremely talented with other kinds of music: the quiet, acoustic-based compositions "Hello, Again" and "Gypsy Soul," and the heartbroken ballad "Sweet Burgundy." With his solo career starting to take shape (after the album's release, he opened for some of rock's biggest names: Peter Frampton, Jeff Beck, Rush, ZZ Top, etc.), Bolin's life was tragically cut short at the end of the year due to a drug overdose in Miami, FL." - All Music Guide
    $5.00
  • This album compiles and releases for the very first time all of the studio recordings (as well as two live recordings) made by guitarist and composer Kerry Livgren with the 2nd edition of Kansas, a seven-piece band that immediately preceded the formation of the lineup of the band that the world knows as Kansas. These recordings present a different and fascinating contrast to the music that Kerry would develop and release upon the world with Kansas just a couple of years later. Yet, as composer of all the tracks here, they still have his obvious imprint. In fact, two of the songs here would later reappear in different versions on Kansas' albums; Belexes would show up on the band's self-titled debut album, while Incomudro would appear on their 2nd album, Song For America. With dual keyboards (one of whom doubled on reeds) and an electric saxist/flautist featured in addition to the more standard rock instrumentation, the sound is obviously influenced by jazz/rock pioneers such as Don Ellis, Soft Machine and Frank Zappa and The Mothers Of Invention as well as early progressive rock bands such as Van Der Graaf Generator and King Crimson. Early Recordings From Kansas 1971-73 is an exciting archival release of dark and exploratory early American progressive rock. The fact that these musicians were not able to find success while making this adventurous music in the heartland of agricultural America over 30 years ago should not be a surprise, but the fact that the tapes have survived and are able to finally be presented to the world in an authorized form will give fans of Kansas as well as all fans of early progressive rock a very pleasant surprise. These recordings have been licensed from, and released with the full consent and agreement of all the musicians. Kerry Livgren has returned to the original tapes and worked on all tracks in his studio to present this material in the best possible light. He also contributed liner notes and provided archival photographs.
    $13.00
  • 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
  • This was a pleasant surprise and frankly a return to form. "Room V" is actually a sequel to 1998's "Tyranny" and in many ways betters it. I find the album to be a bit laid back - by Shadow Gallery standards. I would say that this leans more towards the prog rock side rather than metal reminding me of a heavier version of Glass Hammer although lots of similarities to Dream Theater are evident. The album is filled with warmth, perhaps due to the emphasis at times on keyboards. So this one straddles the line between symphonic rock and progressive metal doing both with panache - this one is easily recommended.
    $12.00
  • English vocal version of the third album from this fine Hungarian progressive metal band. Age Of Nemesis (formerly just known as Nemesis) are heavily influenced by Dream Theater, Rush and 70s old school progressive rock. Zoltan Fabian's guitarwork has a wonderful fluid quality that really soars but he adds a good bit of crunch that recals John Petrucci. Vocalist Zoltan Kiss has a great voice that complements the band well. Curiously he displays a more prominent accent than on past efforts but it's not really a distraction. Anyone familiar with their past releases will be extremely satisfied with Terra Incognita as it fits comfortably within the canon. So don't expect any surprises - just some great melodic progressive metal with an emphasis on the progressive side. Highly recommended.
    $8.00
  • "For his first solo release since 2009s House of Insanity, Trans Siberian Orchestra/Savatage guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Chris Caffery has enlisted the help of virtuoso drummer Brian Tichy (Whitesnake, Billy Idol, Ozzy Osbourne) and keyboard player/composer Lonnie Park to create Your Heaven is Real, a 13 song collection of blistering heavy metal that not only continues to display his stellar guitar chops but also his continued confident & improving vocal ability and strong songwriting skills. Your Heaven Is Real was recorded, mixed and produced by Caffery at Face The Music Studios in New York with additional recording done by Lonnie Park at Ultimate Sound in Groton, NY and Brian Tichy's Big Timers Studio in Canyon Country, CA. Instantly memorable and catchy, Your Heaven is Real is immediately more appealing and accessible than its predecessor, filled with some of his heaviest as well as most commercial sounding material to date.The opening title track, a tale of a very true frightening situation experienced by the guitarist, kicks in with sledgehammer riffs and snarling vocals, a true headbanger's delight and easily one of the must hear songs on the album. "Arm And a Leg" is another dark, menacing slice of heavy metal, complete with Caffery's venomous 'Jon Oliva-meets-Alice Cooper-meets-Sebastian Bach' vocal delivery, which is then followed up by the instantly catchy, hook laden metal anthem "Just Fine", one of the most upbeat, fun songs he's ever recorded, complete with a killer chorus and great guitar solo. Things take a turn for the poignant & melancholy on the Savatage sounding "Why", a fabulous song with a great lyrical message and emotional vocals (some of Chris' best ever) to go along with many guitar and keyboard textures. Without a doubt it's another highlight of Your Heaven is Real, and pushes past the 7-minute length as the one of the albums two epics. "Damned If You Do, Dead If You Don't" is an upbeat schizoid heavy metal gem, complete with complex riffs and some futuristic, almost prog-rock styled synths, while the blazing instrumental "Hot Wheelz" (dedicated to a special someone perhaps?) is chock full of manic drumming from Tichy and plenty of Caffery's blazing guitar licks. "I Never Knew" is more of an atmospheric rocker thick with keyboards and layers of lush guitar work, providing the framework for Caffery to inject some heartfelt, hook laden vocal passages. It's a nice change of pace, and I'd love to hear more in this style from him.The back end of the CD is equally as strong, kicking off with the energetic riff monger "Sick and Tired", and continuing on with the mid paced, grinding "Death By Design", a doom laden piece that will instantly appeal to fans of vintage Savatage as well as Black Sabbath. After the brief but lovely guitar instrumental "2-26-15", Caffery unleashes "Too Soon To Be Too Late", a rampaging, addicting example of metal guitar firepower packed with catchy vocal hooks and irresistible melodies. This is one of those songs that if it existed in 1987 would have been a huge hit with teenage hard rock & heavy metal fans. The second of Your Heaven is Real's lengthy songs is "Over and Over", an emotional ballad that slowly builds to a powerful climax, again showcasing Caffery's confident vocals and featuring a sizzling guitar solo. This leads to the gorgeous "Come Home", a short keyboard/guitar/vocal piece that takes the album out on a tranquil note, again displaying the huge amount of variety that Caffery has included on this fine new release.I've been saying for years that Chris Caffery has yet to top his best solo release, which was his first in Faces, but I think, now a decade later, he's finally done it with Your Heaven is Real. Well rounded and showing off much of what makes Chris Caffery 'click', Your Heaven is Real permeates with positive energy, power, and majesty, obviously a very personal album for the artist but ultimately his most revealing. Well done." - Sea Of Tranquility
    $15.00
  • "The first Primus album to achieve much widespread airplay (thanks to its release on a major), and the one that broke them on MTV, Sailing the Seas of Cheese completely redefined the possibilities of the electric bass in rock music for those who'd never heard the group before. Slapping like a funk player, but strumming power chords and finger-tapping like a metal guitar hero, Les Claypool coaxed sounds from his instrument that had rarely if ever been made the focus of a rock band. Claypool's riffs were so full and dominant that they hardly needed to be doubled by guitarist Larry LaLonde (and wouldn't have had the same effect anyway), which freed him up on most songs to launch into dissonant, atonal solos that essentially functioned as texture, complementing Claypool's oddly whimsical sense of melody. The combination results in a weird atmosphere that could be transformed into something dark or eerie, but Claypool's thin, nasal voice and demented blue-collar persona place the record firmly in the realm of the cheerfully bizarre. The compositions are mostly riff-driven, fleshing out their heavy metal roots with prog rock tricks from Rush and Frank Zappa, as well as the novelty side of Zappa's sense of humor. The willful goofiness may alienate some listeners, but it can also obscure some genuinely dark humor, and it never detracts from the band's frequently stunning musicianship. Somewhat analogous to jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie, Claypool hasn't inspired many direct imitators because of his tremendous feats of dexterity. But his stature as a virtuoso able to take his instrument into previously undreamed-of realms is without question. Though Sailing the Seas of Cheese tones down Primus' penchant for jamming, it's the tightest, most song-oriented representation of their jaw-dropping, one-of-a-kind style." - All Music Guide
    $5.00