Review Summary: Opeth's first DVD release is, to say the least, fantastic. The production, the sound, the haunting vibe of the theater... And of course, an amazing performance by the band make this DVD a great release.14 of 15 thought this review was well writtenWe live in an age where many bands claim to be "all about the music", and yet it's so rare for that statement to actually ring true. Opeth are one exception to the rule; their astonishing back catalogue a testament to a spirit of musical exploration and progressive instincts running wild Opeth stand apart from the underground extreme metal scene that spawned them; eccentric, eclectic and humble to the last, the band continue to enchant and entrance fans of rock music that resounds with heart and soul, gaining new converts with each new album and fresh critical plaudits from an increasingly intrigued media. Opeth's records are uniformly stunning, but it's their live performances that have really taken this band from low-key cult status to their current prominence. Ten minute songs with complex arrangements and dynamics may not be regular feature of the charts in this, or any other country, but there's something inherently irresistible about Opeth's music. You can breathe it in, close your eyes, and really feel it. And once you're hooked, there's no looking back. Countless first-timers have been blown away by the opulent majesty of the Opeth's live experience; dumbfounded by the fact that music as a vast in scope and flawless in execution actually exists at all...
This is the initial paragraph of a little essay written by Dom Lawson, in October 2003, which serves like an introduction to a very fantastic experience I have to privilege to talk about to you. Aside from being pretty much everything I could have said about Opeth as an introduction, but better. Besides, I'm mentally frustrated at the moment and I can't really extend myself a lot with awkward wording and severely difficult sentences. So yeah, take that.
is, to date, the only "Official" Opeth DVD out in the market, and in my opinion, an amazing effort by the band to allow the fans that can't catch them on tour in town to experience, at least second-hand, the feeling of one of today's most acclaimed Progressive Death metal band.
The package is pretty much an extension of their albums out at the moment of its release (which were Deliverance
), and it's certainly focused in the promotion of the latest, therefore, having for the most part of the concert tracks from the latest album. Many fans felt disappointed for the lack of "old-school" tracks, from albums before Blackwater Park
, such as the cult album Still Life
, but really, make yourself the question "Do I really need old-school?" Considering The best I'll get is a "shut up" or probably a "buzz off", the best thing I have left to say to you, is that it doesn't really matter if there's nothing old, you really need to have an open mind and cherish this as a continuation of what Opeth had been doing up to that point, and not an omission of the past life.
But ahead with what really matters...
Lamentations, Live at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, 2003
Live at Shepherd's Bush Empire 2003
The Concert starts with the distinctive Opeth "O", and the display of the name and the location (Just like pretty much any other Live DVD would start). In a dim-lit stage, the members of the band start entering to the stage, While Per Wiberg (Who wasn't an official member at the moment) makes a creepy introduction instrumental piece with the keyboards... as the crowd goes wild every time any member picks up an instrument, the expectation about the show is rather huge "What will they perform?" "Who is that guy in the keyboards?" "Where the heck is my wallet?". As everyone are set to start on stage, the show starts off with a beautiful performance of one of the best known tracks out of Damnation
, named Windowpane
. I really didn't know what to think. It's an amazing version of the song, it was played perfectly... just the way you want a live show to sound like, especially if it's being recorded for posterity.
After the track finishes, Mikael grabs the microphone, and finally presents the band. "We are Opeth". The myth was right. I had been reading everywhere the only presentation they really did was that, and oh me! it's true. A brief explanation of what will go on in the show: The DVD is being recorded, and they�ll try and not make so many fu
ck ups. A soft set, and a hard set, which makes the crowd go wild. After this, he introduces the next song, and a personal favorite of mine, In my time of need
which, as you must have guessed already, was a fantastic performance. I really never got into Damnation
until I watched the DVD, since I considered it a sissy album. Really, you should give it a go, it's a fantastic album, just different. The song has a really haunting vibe to it, and I'd say it has amazing lyrics. Another thing that's outstanding from this track is the fact that the drumming is much, much harder than the studio version, so I like it.
After the wicked screaming of "Opeth, woohoo" and several females screaming like there was no tomorrow, Starts Death Whispered a lullaby
, another brilliant song, but that wasn't written by Mikael... dun dun dun... It was written by Steve Wilson, their producer at the time, so we're in safe hands, aren't we? I've noticed some people don't really dig this song for that mere fact, but I don't really find it that hideous. I think it's a really good song, but I don't really listen to it a lot, since I had been listening to it for a couple weeks before I got the DVD, and I abused my privilege of listening to it. About 7 or 8 times every day... *Insert raised eyebrow*. Anyhow, beautiful song.
Mikael changes guitar, and tells to the crowd "Keep posing for the camera..." And with no introduction at all, starts Closure
, one of the tracks I personally enjoy to play, basically because there's no need of a backing band (selfish bastard...). Anyhow, an amazing interpretation of the song. What really surprises me is the fact that Mikael plays the acoustic part all along... it's not that much of a tough song, but it has it's odd parts. The song continues and... wait. Why are they delaying so much? Yep. There's a little jam in there, before they go to the heavy part, and again, the drums are surprising, with an overall mid-eastern vibe... Yes. Truly one of the highlights of the concert. The crowd goes wild with this one for sure. This is the first song in which the crowd takes out an Opeth flag and waves it around.
After this, starts what Mikael claims to be "his favorite track of the Damnation
album", and another song I kind of relate with In my time of need
, I'm talking about Hope leaves
. This song struck me as amazing lyrically, particularly:
There's a wound that's always bleeding
There's a road I'm always walking
And I know, you'll never return to this place
Indeed, an amazing track. What can I say about it? Lovely track. There's no need of further reference.
A song that Mikael claims to be "A dark and evil track, but dark isn't necessarily heavy", To Rid the Disease
. One of the first songs I listened from the Damnation
album, and I don't really enjoy. It's a good song, but for some reason it doesn't strike me as amazing. Probably it's the fact that I don't pay a lot of attention to the lyrics... it's taking me a while to digest. It feels to awkward for my taste. Not my favorite track, but it's a good one to listen every once in a while.
The next track is the instrumental from the Damnation
album, Ending credits
. Personally, I hadn't listened to this song until I got the DVD, and I think it's a really amazing track. I think of this as the link between Damnation
, but then again, I'm not particularly known for my amazing capacity of interpretation nor my good deductive reasoning. Anyhow, when the track ends, Mikael says this is a "total Rip-off from a band called Camel". Good to know. Pft, Posers.
Finally, a break from the Damnation
album. Some Blackwater Park
son! The crowd goes wild, they think it may be... yes...! No. It's Harvest. Ugh. One of the first songs I learned to play by Opeth, and still one of my ultimate favorites to play in acoustic sets. The lyrics are amazing as well, and Mikael invites the crowd to sing along with him, as they did in Death Whispered a Lullaby
. The interpretation was amazing. It could have been better with acoustics, but then again, there would've been difficulties mostly because of the intertwined electric/acoustic bits. But who cares, really? It's an amazing song.
Peter leaves the stage, and so do the Martins. Only Mikael and Per stay on stage, and without the need of an introduction, starts Weakness
, the last (but not least) track from the first set. The song has always been an odd listen for me. It has a good haunting vibe to it, but maybe the idea behind it, as stated somewhere in the documentary, was kind of being "underwater" or "inside an orange". Who knows. It's a weird track nonetheless, but a good way to end the mellow set.
Per Wiberg is once again in charge of the introduction, with an instrumental piece to allow the other members to come in... and hell sets loose, with one of the best-riffed introductions out of Deliverance
, or at least the most recognizable, Master's Apprentices
. This song is played amazingly, considering it's a 10+ minute song. Not my favorite song lyrically at the beginning, but it kind of grew on me after the first riff ends, with the vocal harmonies and the clean vocals. The harsh vocals parts aren't really my favorites. But they complement the song, so what can I say. A good starting track for the heavy set.
After telling the crowd this is how Opeth sounds like, and also adding "That wasn't heavy enough heavy for you, is it?". He claims the next track isn't exactly heavy, in the beginning at least, and starts The drapery Falls
, an amazing interpretation of the song (with the only really noticeable fuck
up in the beginning), and a personal favorite of mine, and probably a lot of people as well. What can you really say about this song that people don't know?. Well. Uh. Amazing.
Next song is one of the "Top 3 heaviest Opeth songs". Need more references? What about one of Opeth's longest songs? "I think many will recognize this one. This song is called. De. Li. Ve. Rance." This way, another fantastic performance starts. Deliverance
, another highlight, shines both for being a great song musically and lyrically, and overall, one of Opeth's best attempts at heavy, with slight moments of peace... Nonetheless, the performance is immaculate, and the solos are just so perfectly executed. Now, Opeth is really shining for what they are. A Death Metal Band, and nothing else.
The leper affinity
, Another Super heavy track of Blackwater Park
, is another fantastic performance that I am still amazed with. Mikael's ability to play great, complex riffs and singing his butt off in this song is a true demonstration that there's still hope for the night to be amazing, and why not, memorable. Once again, all the instrumental section doesn't really shine out by pieces, but as a whole thanks to the great synchronization in the band.
It's time to leave. The crowd screams and begs for Demon of the fall
� But the best way to end it this time, is through the mellowest song out of Deliverance
, A fair Judgment
. Once again, I hadn't really listened to this song a lot until I got the DVD, and this is a truly beautiful song, not just lyrically (which isn't exactly the strongest point of the song), but transmitting through the instruments a truly emotional song, with an starting piano riff that just sends chills down your spine. Indeed, another favorite moment of mine, and with an astonishing solo that still makes me go back and listen to it over and over again. As the song finishes, the band throws it's picks used through the setlists, thanks the crowd for their presence, and they leave the stage...
The credits roll, and the initial screen comes out. The concert is over.
Documentary, "The making of Deliverance and Damnation"
The documentary is, as you have already read, about the realization of both the "heavy" album and the "mellow" album. The documentary starts with Martin Lopez playing the introduction to the song Deliverance
, along with the other members in what seems the recording of the song. Soon after, there's a brief introduction of each member and how they started themselves into music, and how Mendez and Lopez went from Uruguay to Sweden. The documentary goes around the whole process around the albums: The studio problems they had, the many things that they have gone through the years, a semi-shocking statement by Mikael talking about how sometimes he can't stand parts of Morningrise
, for reason I'm not planning to discuss here, and that you'll have to get from another source. Or getting the DVD. Whatever suits you better.
Overall, the documentary is an interesting view on how bands don't really go into a studio, pop some beers, invite some fine ladies and an album comes out of those sessions, it's really a frustrating, stressing horrible process that either takes a lot of balls or a very distorted look at life and everything surrounding it. The documentary has it's funny moments and semi-humorous jokes, like Steven Wilson and Mikael Akerfeldt discussing the use of more mellotrons, or Martin Mendez' odd accent.
There are other explanations surrounding the albums: Damnation
was just an experiment by Mikael, trying to change the pace a little bit and have a different experience for once, and as he stated, it will never be repeated again (Good news for the purist metal heads).
As a final note, all I can say to you is to get this DVD. Don't mind the fact that there's no Still Life
or My arms, your hearse
, this is a great DVD in my opinion, and it's completely worth it's price (Which by the way, is quite an affordable price considering the price of other live DVD's) So yes, Tojes really recommends this product a lot.
The things I liked about it were:
* Amazing mood, amazing recording, immaculate performance.
* Nice setlist choices.
* Great quality overall.
* Informative documentary.
The things I disliked about it were:
* Where are all the sex jokes I keep hearing about??
* Some older tracks could have been added.
* A couple more heavy tracks, maybe.
- Vocals, Guitars
- Keyboards, Backing vocals
Forgive my cheap humor, and I hope you enjoyed the read.