[Universal Music LLC, 2017]
Intro: Lefteris Statharas
Translation: Alexandros Mantas
22 / 12 / 2017
It’s been already five years since Pandora’s Pinata and Diablo Swing Orchestra are back with Pacifisticuffs and Kristin Evegård as their new singer. The majority of the new elements introduced in this album are based on her who replaced Annlouice Lögdlund since the latter decided to dedicate herself to her career as an opera singer. Their fans were wondering how Diablo Swing Orchestra of 2017 would sound like and now they have their answers.
Baroque metal party
Perhaps the replacement of the female singer rendered the songs in Pacifisticuffs more pop than ever in their course so far since a whole lot of them follow the hook-chorus-hook formula. Evegård’s “cuter” vocals not only match perfectly the aesthetic of the tunes, but they also mix well the Håkansson’s voice as well as the rest male ones.
Otherwise, the songs and the aesthetic are the expected from DSO on the first listen: a mixture of metal ballroom with rock, metal, waltz and latin sounds. The band achieves this by using the standard instruments, but cellos, trumpets, trombones, violins and violas are also thrown in the mix. Therefore, the final outcome easily maintains the interest since you are carried from serious and theatrical songs to simpler ones that are dancing and merry.
This is exactly what DSO do best, this transition from song to song. The tunes on the album are quite “stuffed” and thankfully there are some shorter and melodious or groovy ones dotted here and there that convey the listener from one musical concept to the next.
There are quite many songs on Pacifisticuffs that stand out. The Age of Vulture Culture underlines their mastery of pop aesthetic. Karma Bonfire recalls more vintage DSO while Ode to the Innocent is a magnificent song that showcases the talent of the new singer to carry a more classical arrangement.
In a few words, all these things that make them beloved to their fans are present here. Aside that, the new vocals may alienate initially some people but combined with minor changes and the more poppy material make the final outcome sounding quite pleasant, in my view. The style of the songs, as well as the way they are performed are of high standards with a lot of remarkable moments. Granted, there is nothing groundbreaking here, but there may be something extraordinary down the line.
7.5 / 10
Diablo Swing Orchestra carry on with their attempt to establish a sound which they and they alone have shaped.
Pacifisticuffs sounds like a weird mixture of symphonic metal with the more austere arrangements of Tiger Lillies rounded by an intense aura of Danny Elfman’s soundtrack Nightmare Before Christmas. This description doesn’t do justice to it because the constant changes of rhythms include also swing, jazz, latin, electro pop, Abba and the music of the gypsies of the Balkans (bringing to mind Kaizers Orchestra).
The vocals are mainly female, interjected only scarcely by male ones, attempting to slip into the territory of early Kate Bush and Tori Amos, leaving also their musical imprint; and here is where the most interesting part of their music lies.
Attempting to marry such different influences is a hazardous task by default and the experiment was not successful here. It makes an impressive listen but lacks depth, like a firework that loses its magnificence fairly quickly. People whose metal is not their scene may appreciate this album a lot more.
5.5 / 10