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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  • Haven't checked in on this band in many years so it's nice to see them progress a bit and find their own identity. Still sounding a bit like Genesis and Marillion, Cast now sing in Spanish and add some fusion and ethnic influences which I think firms up their footing. This 2 CD disc is loaded with epic tracks that harken back to the 70s and early 80s. My biggest complaint about the band continues to be the production which I find to be very thin. Perhaps some better mastering is in order for the future.
    $18.00
  • The Nektar catalog is now being bounced around like a ping pong ball.  This is now the third version that Cleopatra has made available.  Beyond the original classic album you get a bonus disc which features a large portion of the Academy Of Music 1974 show.
    $15.00
  • After a 10 year absence Enchant are back.  The band started in 1993 making them one of the earliest prog metal band.  Actually they are sort of an interesting band in that they seem to exist in both the prog rock and prog metal realms.  Some metal fans think of them as a bit lightweight and some prog rock fans think they are too heavy!  One thing is for sure they are wildly successful.  This is definitely prog but it never loses sight of the melody.  Fronted by the great Ted Leonard (who is now doing double duty with Spock's Beard) this one is a no-brainer - whether you are metal or prog head.  "irst impressions are the similarities to Spock’s Beard. Hardly surprising since Ted Leonard has been singing with them since 2011. He’s been with Enchant longer; their first CD came out in 1993. And familiarity doesn’t breed contempt here, fortunately.Bay area progressive rockers, they steer a straight course composing guitar-structured songs that they extemporise over. Guitarist Douglas A Ott is also the band’s main producer, with The Great Divide having been recorded at his own studio, but if in the past the band’s followed his direction they’re now more involved after a ten year gap working on other projects. Also, while integral, Ott doesn’t dominate Enchant’s sound but flows in and out adding a hard rock bias to their generic musical flavouring. Drummer/percussionist Sean Flanegan and bassist Ed Platt have the solidity of early Kansas and musically there are some pretty snazzy and often too brief keyboard solos from Bill Jenkins.A rolling cyclical bass line forms the basis of opening number ‘Circles’ with Leonard pondering life going round well, like a circle – while the lyrics aren’t profound they feel right and though this isn’t a concept album, despite the band stating otherwise, there are common themes concerning the human condition in a loosely existential manner. Mainly straight verse and choruses ‘Circles’ breaks out into more complicated time signatures before an acoustic comes to the fore, vocals return, an electric guitar take over and it concludes with a nicely warm keyboard solo. ‘Within An Inch’ follows with a steady rock backbeat over which Ott’s playing echoes Camel’s Andy Latimer interrupted briefly by some John Ellis punk-styled sirening. ‘The Great Divide’ follows suit in a more epic manner, the arrangement akin to Genesis in their golden period.Enchant don’t play with the fairies, despite what their name suggests. If anything they’re two steps removed from an AOR sound leaning in towards early Asia with some latter day Beatles thrown in, and a less grandiose take on Spock’s Beard. One might refer to them as technically proficient rather than emotionally overwrought, meaning there is a heartfelt flavour to their songs, and they tend to grow on you.The subdued opening to ‘Life In A Shadow’ throws a brief curveball echoing the Canterbury sound of Hatfield & The North before a heavy chorded chorus takes this into a rocking tune with soulful harmonies. ‘Deserve To Feel’ pours on the technical drumming and dribbling triplet bass figures with some flashy pyrotechnics predominantly on guitar but with keen keyboard flourishes, moving into a more intricate musical score as Jenkins and Ott trade inspired lines towards its conclusion. Likewise, ‘Here And Now’ builds reflectively moving towards emotional drama.Finely composed, played well, Enchant’s The Great Divide might not have you falling under its spell, but you may well be surprised how you find yourself being drawn to playing it." - The Midland Rocks
    $12.00
  • "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
  • Fifth album, remastered and remixed by Dave Mustaine. Comes with 4 bonus tracks. For those of you concerned...these are import versions that are copy-protected by EMI.
    $12.00
  • The seeds for The Fullness Of Time were planted with the band's self-titled debut in the summer of 2002. That album features members of Fates Warning, Steel Prophet, and Symphony X. Redemption leader Nick van Dyk prevailed upon his close friend, Fates Warning lead singer Ray Alder, to take the producer's chair.The band quickly gathered a following in the metal underground, and received rave reviews from the press, which recognized the band for its combination of intensity, progression and melody. The German magazine Rock Hard awarded it 9 out of 10 points. The accolades culminated in a performance at ProgPower in September 2002. Alder also joined the band on stage as a guest performer.With a newly revised lineup in place, Van Dyk set to work writing and recording the follow-up, and upon hearing the completed music, Alder asked to join the band as its full-time vocalist in the summer of 2004. The band recorded its sophomore release, The Fullness of Time, and van Dyk selected Tommy Newton, known for his production work with such bands as Conception, Ark, Helloween and UFO, to mix and master the record.Once again, the music combines heaviness, complexity and irresistible melody drawing on such diverse influences as Kansas, Savatage, Iron Maiden, Fates Warning, Dream Theater, Rush and Megadeth. The Fullness of Time promises to be one of 2005's most unique and compelling offerings in the prog/power genre.
    $13.00
  • The band's fifth album was a brilliant amalgam of Beatles influenced pop and classically influenced progressive rock. I still get a rise out of hearing "Fire On High". This remastered edition comes with five bonus tracks which are a bit dispensible alternate mixes.
    $5.00
  • Limited edition digipak of the new Evergrey album includes 2 booklets and one bonus track."Reformed and rejuvenated may best describe Evergrey 2.0 and their eighth studio album Glorious Collision After dissolving the band in the Spring of 2010, founder, guitarist, and vocalist Tom Englund immediately began recreating Evergrey, writing several songs with remaining keyboard player Rikard Zander. Englund then filled out the band with the incoming talent of Marcus Jidell (guitar), Hannes Van Dahl (drums) and Johan Niemann (bass).A cursory listen to Glorious Collision finds Evergrey revitalized and seeming to draw from a well of new sources. In the past, both lyrically and musically, Englund/Evergrey was almost uniformly heavy, bleak, and often discomforting. I don't think Englund has lost any of his somber, near depressive, edge, but musically Glorious Collision certainly has a more lively feel to it. Leave It Behind, You, and It Comes From Within find Evergrey drawing on a more classic melodic rock feel wrapped in pure heavy metal. Wrong brings back some of Evergrey/Englund's melancholy while sounding like a Swedish version of current, and commercial, modern hard rock. Others, like Frozen, thunder along with a well-paced and invigorating melodic power metal style. Generally, with the depth and variety of the arrangements, Evergrey hasn't lost it's progressive edge either. But I'm not ready to call this work pure progressive metal. Ultimately, when listening to Wrong, I'm Drowning Alone, or the wonderful To Fit the Mold, Glorious Collision has a sweeping near epic quality to it thanks to the aforementioned melodic rock character wrapped in some serious heavy metal.If Glorious Collision is the future of a re-emergent and revitalized Evergrey, then we are in for some grand days ahead. Glorious Collision is impressive: heavy, melodic, thick with groove, and quite entertaining. Maybe more bands should reboot." - dangerdog.com
    $15.00
  • Svart Records can be thought of as the Rise Above Records of Finland.  Both labels covers similar territory.  Somehow Svart signed the British band Messenger right from under the nose of Rise Above.  Messenger are a superb retro-band that push all the right buttons for a fans of 70s prog and folk.  This isn't a bombastic throw back album like Astra or Diagonal.  Instead Messenger's music is cut more from the cloth that Midlake are exploring.  In other words what you get is a kind of mystical, pastoral folk with strong prog overtones.  Flutes and 'tron fuse with echoey acoustic guitars in a way that transport you to some ancient forest.  At various points through out the album I'm reminded of Pink Floyd, Trespass-era Genesis, early King Crimson and Traffic.  The band started out as a trio with guests and has now expanded into a full fledge touring ensemble.  I expect we will hear quite a bit from this band in the immediate future.  Highly recommended. 
    $8.00
  • 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
  • "Twelve years, eight studio albums, two live DVDs and tours that have taken them from Moscow to Quebec. Now one of the most enduring third wave progressive rock bands on the scene returns - a band that has never made an album using the same personnel as the previous album. In fact, the same lineup has (to date) never been used twice.But there are regulars. And some of the favorite regulars are back for the 8th album: Flower Kings bass legend Jonas Reingold; the ever-faithful and gifted Theo Travis, familiar to many from his work with the Steven Wilson band, Gong and Robert Fripp, with his arsenal of wind textures from saxophones to flutes; and the return to the fold of the amazingly talented Luke Machin, a guitar hero for a new generation who can even wow the old generations (and who also fronts his own band, Maschine). And of course there's band leader Andy Tillison (keyboards and vocals), the only member of the band to have played on all the records.This team is joined by Morgan Ågren, Swedish drumming phenomenon who can even count Frank Zappa among his previous jobs (others include, but not limited to, Kaipa, Devin Townsend, and his own acclaimed Mats/Morgan Band). Morgan introduces to The Tangent a real live energy full of inspiration and eccentricity.The band, who were only supposed to make one single album in 2003, are now back with their eighth! A Spark In the Aether is a joyous and uplifting romp that sees the band concentrating on their forté: delivering driving, melodic, thoughtful and inspired songs with a large grin on their faces as they do it."Using protest, sadness and negative images in music is a part of an artist's job" says Andy Tillison, "and it's something we have often done. But every so often I think we need to turn to the music itself and remember why it is we get so much from it. On this album I just wanted us to play - have fun, make music and mischief that can be enjoyed just for the sake of it"So, twelve years further down the line, after albums about dystopian societies, midlife crises, alienation, homelessness and communications - the Tangent return to the very beginning and once again celebrate The Music. You are invited to join in."
    $11.00
  • "When the masses in a movement clamor for a reunion, it’s only a matter of time (or economics) before such reunifications occur. Danish progressive metal band Royal Hunt may have started with Henrik Brockmann on vocals, but his replacement DC Cooper brought the band to international acclaim in the mid-90’s with such premier releases as Moving Target and especially 1997’s Paradox.Following DC’s departure in 1998 for a solo career and the melodic power act Silent Force, keyboardist Andre Andersen found more than capable singers to helm the band with John West and Mark Boals during the past decade, but 13 years later, Cooper returns on this 11th studio platter, Show Me How to Live. Latest acquisition Jonas Larsen on guitar (coming into the fold this year) gains parallel responsibility with Andre for driving much of the Royal Hunt riff train, spitting out some 70’s-like Blackmore licks against his neo-classical/symphonic keyboard landscape on standout tracks such as the majestic “An Empty Shell” and relatively up tempo “Half Past Loneliness."The quintet feature the 10 minute-plus title track near the second half of the album, a sweeping epic ballad that showcases all phases of the DC Cooper melodic power range such as note sustaining movements, tender restraint in many verses, and his multi-part harmonies during the chorus with longtime luminaries Kenny Lubcke and Maria McTurk proving background assistance.Unlike many of their contemporaries, the seven songs on Show Me How to Live clock in at a tidy 43 minutes, giving the listener adequate time to digest the material without feeling information overload. Whatever personal differences may have happened appear to be water on the bridge, as DC and Andre seem to know each other’s strengths and make for some memorable progressive metal that’s potent without going overboard on the technical virtuoso side of things.All corners of the globe will want this, especially the longtime Royal Hunt followers." - Blistering.com
    $7.00
  • 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
  • New 2 CD reissue of the classic first album to feature Anneke van Giersbergen (chronologically speaking it was the band's third album). The bonus disc contains rare b-side tracks, a load of unreleased demos and the video to "Leaves".
    $13.00