Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pacifisticuffs
Candlelight Records
Avantgarde / Jazz Metal / Riot Opera
13 songs (44'39")
Release year: 2017
Official Myspace, Candlelight Records
Reviewed by Alex
Album of the month

Here is the sequence of events leading up to this review. First, for a month I was very sick. To the point that I constantly felt extremely fatigued, so listening to music, especially new music, where I have to pay attention before committing my opinion to paper, was not in the cards. Then I got better, and it coincided with both of my kids’ bands concerts in their middle/high school. Normally at those concerts their high school jazz band plays too, and listening to them bringing to life some Cuban jazz reminded me that somewhere before I got sick I spotted the fact that Swedish Diablo Swing Orchestra were back with a new album. Before diving into Pacifisticuffs (another great oxymoronic name for an album) I decided to first listen again to Pandora’s Pinata, to refresh myself why that album had my socks knocked off at the time. The long period away from Pandora’s Pinata apparently did nothing to lessen my opinion of that kaleidoscopic brew, and songs like Voodoo Mon Amour, Guerilla Laments,Honey Trap Aftermath and Of Kali Ma Calibre kept my socks firmly off again. With that reminder and being now fully back in the groove I was ready for Pacifisticuffs. I am glad I did not rush into it too.

Just like you would expect from Diablo Swing Orchestra Pacifisticuffs mixes every genre under the sun, adds a splash of periodically appearing metal distortion to it, and comes up with daring, totally non-commercial and non-conformist, challenging, yet engaging, entertaining and fully enjoyable sound. Maybe a little less heavy than its predecessor, Pacifisticuffs, nevertheless, has its dose of heavy grotesque (Interruption), or songs that touch on the same themes of shake’n’bake swing (Karma Bonfire, The Age of Vulture Culture). The Age of Vulture Culture specifically reminds me of Voodoo Mon Amour from Pandora’s Pinata, with its profound melody, obvious brass section, samba/Latin/or maybe Odessa Black Sea polyrhythms. Lady Clandestine Chainbreaker ups the heaviness in spots and manages to blend note bent jazz, tango, closing out with a funeral march. Confused? If you are a Diablo Swing Orchestra fan you shouldn’t be, and if you aren’t one, I dared my kids to show this material to the jazz band teacher to see it incorporated in the next Christmas performance. We will make the whole middle/high school complex of our little town into Diablo Swing Orchestra fans. That’s a worthy mission, and you should join in.

Pacifisticuffs tries on some new territories. The opening single Knucklehugs adds iconic Robert Palmer Simply Irresistible Pepsi commercial beats to its jazzy metal, and surprises with Dixie insert in the middle. Ode to the Innocent goes back a bit with chamber music, strings/cello carrying the day, gypsy passion being on main display. Jigsaw Hustle is sunny 70s disco, pure ABBA, and only Diablo Swing Orchestra can push this envelope and get away with it. Another change is that operatic vocalist AnnLouice Logdlund has been replaced with more girlie sounding Kristin Evegard. Her youthful boyish attitude, not Wagnerian dominatrix vocals, is exactly what The Age of Vulture Culture needs, but whether Kristin is seductive enough on stealthy lounging Superhero Jagganath or sultry Ode to the Innocent would be something for you to ponder after you are on the nth listen to Pacifisticuffs. Most importantly, and undeniably, new songwriters and all, the band maintained its absolutely unique phantasmagorical attitude, unbelievable sense of tasteful melody and managed to not make a parody out of the themselves, something that I’m sure is hard to do every single time. Diablo Swing Orchestra trajectory was steady up and Pacifisticuffs does nothing to change that.

Killing Songs :
The Age of Vulture Culture, Lady Clandestine Chainbreaker, Jigsaw Hustle, Ode to the Innocent, Interruption
Alex quoted 92 / 100
Other albums by Diablo Swing Orchestra that we have reviewed:
Diablo Swing Orchestra - Pandoras Pinata reviewed by Alex and quoted 89 / 100
Diablo Swing Orchestra - Sing-Along Songs for the Damned and Delirious reviewed by Charles and quoted 73 / 100
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