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And here I have a major dilemma. I've always persisted with the belief that no album is worth full marks. Why? Quite simply because it implies a band can do no better. A straight ten out of ten is just that - perfection and no scope for improvement, whereas surely every band strives to improve with each new release. However, the wonderfully titled 'Sing Along Songs for the Damned & Delirious' leaves me with no alternative as it hits musical perfection on every level. And I mean every level - songwriting; production; performance; originality...and beyond. Okay, I admit to already being a huge fan of Diablo Swing Orchestra through their sublimely deranged debut album, 'The Butcher's Ballroom', so you can only imagine the euphoric smile that appeared on my face when a promo for 'Sing Along Songs...' arrived for review, but their sophomore full-length release takes their sound and innovative musical aesthetic to the next level. DSO have succeeded in creating an experimental and genuinely progressive work of art that despite all of the sonic craziness, somehow remains an accessible listen throughout. This is perhaps DSO's greatest achievement here. To incorporate such wild musical innovation and contrasting musical styles without sacrificing good, solid songwriting is indubitably a major accomplishment, and one that should not be taken for granted. For example, take bands like Unexpect or Psyopus - as much as I'm a fan of their disparate, experimental approaches to the avant-garde in music, I often find myself distanced from their respective sounds, more often than not admiring the musicians technical abilities rather than becoming consumed with the music. This would prevent me scoring either of these bands a perfect ten. DSO, on the other hand, marry the two through combining virtuoso abilities with rhythmically and melodically infectious music that you can genuinely get lost in. Can you recall the last metal album that gave you an inexplicable and spontaneous urge get up and dance? Well, 'Sing Along Songs...' had me 'dancing'...of sorts...like a complete cock around my living room. This doesn't happen too often. Probably quite fortunately. So what makes this release, and DSO in general, so special? No words can explicate such a question and do the music justice. My advice is to go take a listen and make this judgement for yourself, for I guarantee you will be blown away. It's like swing and metal have always been musical companions, for DSO make such a fusion of styles sound so natural. That's not forgetting the array of other stylistic fusions, and the polyvocal approach on most tracks, including the closest you'll ever get to glass-smashing operatic vocals in a metal band. Seriously, forget Tarja Turunen, Simone Simons et al, for DSO's Annlouice Wolgers, among other singing styles, delivers a vocal performance here that is truly on a par with the greats like Maria Callas. Seriously. Okay, so what else can I say in this DSO eulogy to make you buy this prized jewel of musical sublimity? Essential; stunning; flawless; genre-defining. These are journalistic clichés that, here, I do not use lightly. Diablo Swing Orchestra are the real deal. So are the ten cuts on offer actually sing along songs for the damned and delirious? Oh fuck yes. Buy this masterful piece of demented art immediately and experience its madness first-hand.
Ascendance Records
Review by Mark Holmes
21st Sept 2009
1) A Tapdancer's Dilemma
2) A Rancid Romance
3) Lucy Fears the Morning Star
4) Bedlam Sticks
5) New World Widows
6) Siberian Love Affairs
7) Vodka Inferno
8) Memoirs of a Roadkill
9) Ricerca Dell'Anima
10) Stratosphere Serenade
"Buy this masterful piece of demented art immediately and experience its madness first-hand."