Opeth
The Roundhouse Tapes


3.0
good

Review

by Nick Butler EMERITUS
November 6th, 2007 | 239 replies


Release Date: 2007 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Just one question: why?

If there's one thing I'm certain about when it comes to metalheads, it's that a large majority of them are insanely loyal. How else do you explain the fact that people actually bought The X Factor and Virtual XI? How else to rationalise the fact that people still think that, 16 years since they did anything noteworthy, Metallica's next album won't suck? And how else to make sense of the fact that a second Opeth live album in two years is being greeted so fervently?

I can't deny that the quality of Opeth's music on the five albums stretching from 1998's My Arms, Your Hearse to 2003's Damnation has played a massive part in the respect and adoration they still command, but the fact remains that if Opeth were not a metal band they wouldn't be able to get away with this. 2005's Ghost Reveries was the first studio album since 1995's debut album, Orchid, that wasn't met with blanket critical acclaim. (What's more, it even led to a minor bandwagon of people attacking their earlier albums, slamming the band as formulaic and boring.) They've followed that up with Lamentations, which contained Damnation in full before moving into their more typical material. Fine - a placeholder live album seemed a smart thing to do at that point, since, in theory, it would allow the band time to retreat and really focus on making their new album as good as it needed to be to maintain their audience and stop the backlash in its tracks.

So why, pray tell, have Opeth released The Roundhouse Tapes? The obvious answer is that a whole studio album has been released since Lamentations was recorded, and that this will shift the focus toward that album. I'd buy that if there was more than one song from Ghost Reveries on here - yet it's outnumbered two to one by both Blackwater Park and My Arms, Your Hearse, and matched by Morningrise, Still Life, Damnation, and Orchid. Quite simply, there is no reason for this album to exist. Can the band seriously be so desperate to escape their contract wth Roadrunner already? I can't think of another reason why they'd think two live albums in a row is acceptable.

We can at least say that this is a good deal better than Lamentations. Its flaws are relatively minor ones - Akerfeldt's between-song banter is frequently embarrassing, the vocals are mixed a little too high, some of the vocals on "Bleak" are a little slack, the 4 minutes Akerfeldt spends introducing the band are just awful, the band don't make much effort to change the songs from their studio versions - but those are easily overlooked, because the music is as solid as ever. Although there's simply no way to avoid arguments over song choice when it comes to a band as loved as Opeth are, they've at least cherry picked "Bleak", "Face of Melinda", and "Windowpane", each the finest moment of its respective album. The other song choices may be a little surprising (with the exception of the massively predictable "Demon Of The Fall"), but they're still good ones.

And you know, that's just about all one can say about this album. That's just one of the reasons it's so baffling that this has been released now. Not only does it invite obvious comparisons with Lamentations in which one album's reputation, if not both, will suffer needlessly, it also means that the patience of the fans is being tested. I can't be the only person who feels it's arrogant for the band and the label to assume that people will pay for a live album just a year after they shelled out for the last one (and probably the accompanying DVD). It's little short of exploitative. Morals aside, you also have to wonder what exactly the appearance of this album says about Opeth's new line-up. Let's not forget that the band who recorded this album had just lost one of their members in Martin Lopez and seen him replaced by Martin Axenrot, and since then, they've also lost Peter Lindgren and replaced him with Fredrik Akesson. Now consider what people would be saying if, say, Radiohead replaced two members and released two consecutive live albums in two years before even attempting to record new material. Wouldn't people begin to speculate that the wheels were falling off? Wouldn't their fans be bracing themselves for the seemingly inevitable announcement that they'd split for good?

Not that I'm suggesting that Opeth are doomed. It's inescapable though that despite the fact that there is nothing wrong with the music on here when taken out of context, the existance of this album makes me feel quite worried and slightly angry. Opeth have a brand new line-up, and they should be looking to the future and celebrating what they might achieve from this point on, not digging their heels in and refusing to leave the past behind. This is the kind of move a band with no ideas makes; it's not befitting of a band who boast probably the biggest cult following in music, and who are widely acknowledged as being at the forefront of metal. I still have confidence that their next album proper will be at least as good as Ghost Reveries (hopefully better), but The Roundhouse Tapes has given that faith quite a kicking.



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user ratings (527)
Chart.
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Iai
Emeritus
November 6th 2007


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Review #100 and I've never been more unpopular!



Edit: Just to clarify: the general concensous was that a staff reviewer should review this album, seeing how Opeth is insanely popular on here. The task fell to me basically because I was the first person to declare any serious interest/say they wouldn't rate it 1 just because they hate Opeth. That's why I reviewed it in the first place. Any other opinions/problems with the review are hopefully clarified above.This Message Edited On 11.06.07

Electric City
Emeritus
November 6th 2007


15760 Comments


I lessthanthree you.

Thor
November 6th 2007


10243 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Akerfeldt's between-song banter is frequently embarrassing


I love his sense of humor.



I think this wasn't as bad of an idea as you may have thought. Lamentations only offered performances of the newer Opeth (the oldest songs were from Blackwater Park). This album has songs spanning their entire career.



4/5 from me at the moment.

Monticello
November 6th 2007


805 Comments


Nice way to round off 100. This doesn't sound interesting to me at all, mostly for the reasons you stated.

Altmer
November 6th 2007


5700 Comments


I haven't got lamentations, so I'll probably get the dvd for this.

Dis_Con_Nec_Ted
November 6th 2007


4871 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

[quote=]Just one question: why?[/quote]





[quote=]Review #100 and I've never been more unpopular![/quote]



I don't even want to read this.





TheStarclassicTreatment
November 6th 2007


2910 Comments


I thought this CD was amazing personally.

Commortus
November 6th 2007


237 Comments


The review is mostly babbling about the possible intentions behind this release. There is precious little content actually concerning the quality of the album.

Tyler
Emeritus
November 6th 2007


7925 Comments


Because it's a live album...how far can you go into the quality, especially when these songs are on albums reviewed to the nth degree on here. It's not like he can comment on the songwriting.

Commortus
November 6th 2007


237 Comments


Of the six paragraphs in this review, only one actually concerns the content of the album. That's too small of a ratio.
Moreover, what's the point in speculating about Opeth's motives? It's all guesswork and conjecture. It's not informative and it doesn't tell me whether or not the album is of high quality.

Iai
Emeritus
November 6th 2007


3553 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

A review of this that only talked about the music would be two paragraphs, tops. Either that or it'd be insanely boring.



One sentence is enough to tell you it's high quality.

Wizard
November 6th 2007


20111 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Just one question: why?


As a huge Opeth fan, I was asking myself this to as to why would they release such an awkward setlist and another live album (not that awkward is bad thing). A finely written review. I still need to hear this.

Commortus
November 6th 2007


237 Comments


A review of this that only talked about the music would be two paragraphs, tops. Either that or it'd be insanely boring.

Dfelon manages to pull them off quite well.
Look, I'm not saying that reviews need to be solely about the music. I'm saying the music wasn't the focus of your review. And I didn't like that.
One sentence is enough to tell you it's high quality.

Not enough to convince me. The point of a review is to persuasively articulate your viewpoint, isn't it?

McP3000
November 6th 2007


3984 Comments


I agree with everything in this review, it just seemed to ramble on too long. I mean it is a live album, but you need to at least compare it to the studio versions...live albums tend to be of poorer quality if the band is bad live. (Not like opeth is though)

Jom
Staff Reviewer
November 6th 2007


2987 Comments


Iai, it's not that I hate Opeth, it's just that I wouldn't be the most authoritative reviewer on this album. After your Still Life review, it's clear that you were the best out of the current staff writers.

The point of a review is to persuasively articulate your viewpoint, isn't it?

I agree with SOP's answer:
The purpose of the review needs to tell existing fans why they should buy it when they already have the studio recordings and/or previous live albums, and time spent reviewing the music would mostly be wasted.

If it was a studio album with new material, then yes, you absolutely have a point. However, reviewing the same tunes, save for the fact that they're live and not new, would be a waste. Non-fans (or casual fans, such as myself) need to know if this is worthwhile or not, and I think that this review attained its purpose.

br3ad_man
Emeritus
November 6th 2007


2125 Comments


Nah, this is a great review, as are just about all of Iai's reviews.

Kage
November 6th 2007


1172 Comments


Live albums are very tricky. In the case of a band like Opeth who just regurgitates the material live, I agree with your assertion that this live album is unacceptable and completely unnecessary. However, for a band like King Crimson or jazz artists who improvise and develop new material live, abundance of live albums is not only acceptable but necessary.

ColdDamnation
November 6th 2007


159 Comments


I would have welcomed news of their progress on their new studio album more than them releasing a live cd...I am excited about them putting out another DVD, but I'd much rather them put their efforts solely into new stuff. but hey, whatever...the longer the wait the better the quality.

I'm sure they've got to polish out some rust due to the line-up change.

ColdDamnation
November 6th 2007


159 Comments


just so long as Akerfeldt's still got the bug

rasputin
November 6th 2007


14896 Comments


Your review does raise several points which are definetely very vaild, but I still think that the fact most of these songs are very hard to find live in good quality makes this album a very good thing. I've also listened to it and the sound quality is seemingly very good, as opposed to some flaws you had mentioned. And I personally think Akerfeldt is the most charming entertainer, I relish listening to him between songs.
However, I suppose I am very much an Opeth fanboy, so disregard everything I say about opeth



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