Sometimes I find it difficult to pick something to write about on this blog. Other times, the choice is obvious. This is one of the more obvious choices. Last week, an album called The Butcher's Ballroom by the Diablo Swing Orchestra appeared almost simultaneously on two blogs that I follow - namely, Free Albums Galore and Free Metal Albums (in fact, if you are a regular visitor to this blog, you may already have spotted this album in the sidebar under the Free music from around the web section, as both of those blogs are included there). Marvin at Free Albums Galore wrote an excellent review of the album - as soon as I read the phrase "an insane combination of heavy metal, swing jazz, a traditional European music smorgabord, and a classical soprano voice that probably broke wine glasses in the studio," I knew that this was an album I had to check out.
It didn't take me very long to see that Marvin was absolutely right about this album. This is probably the weirdest sounding album I've heard since I discovered Thumpermonkey Lives!; I think that if I hadn't already been used to hearing music that is a little on the strange side (such as Thumpermonkey Lives!, Mr. Bungle, and Devil Doll), my own head probably would have exploded upon hearing The Butcher's Ballroom - it really is that crazy. The Diablo Swing Orchestra have managed to take all of the disparate genres listed above and craft a sound that is utterly unique; instead of sounding gimmicky (which would have been all too easy to do), it just works. The swing metal of the opening track, "Balrog Boogie", does a great job of establishing the mood of the album; if you haven't been scared off after this song, then sit back and enjoy the ride, as it only keeps getting better. "D'angelo", one of two short ballads on the album, is absolutely beautiful, consisting only of acoustic guitar and operatic female vocals; the other, "Qualms of Conscience", is a solo piano piece. One of my favourite moments on the album is the transition between the sitar-infused "Gunpowder Chant" and "Infralove", which starts with an electronic beat before hopping into a number of different styles. My favourite song overall is the final one, "Pink Noise Waltz", which throws just about everything in the band's arsenal at the listener, going from metal to a piano solo to a flute solo to a chugging NWOBHM groove to a cool jazzy outro.
The Butcher's Ballroom really is something that needs to be heard to be believed. If you like adventurous, experimental music that doesn't conform to any preset standards, this is definitely something you should hear. It can currently be downloaded as a 76.18 MB zip file from Jamendo. Happy listening!