Review Summary: The kind of quality all live albums should strive to achieve. Opeth deliver the goods with an impeccable performance and continue to prove they're one of the finest progressive rock acts around.
An outdoor theater in Colorado is an interesting choice of location for a band to record a live album, but progressive rock and metal band Opeth were never ones to stick to the ordinary. They make it work with an amazingly clear sound and an impressive performance. All the band members are top notch and play with note-for-note precision on each song. However, these are not just accurate recreations from the studio albums; the keyboard solo in a sublime performance of "In My Time of Need" and the layered intro to "Era" are highlights that can't be heard anywhere else. Frontman Mikael Akerfeldt delivers his brand of high quality banter to the audience for pleasant respites in between each prog epic. The high quality of the recording and the stellar performances are more than enough reason to give this a listen, even if you're familiar with the material.
Unfortunately, there are two factors that hold this back from being a classic live album. Firstly, Mikael Akerfeldt, for all his guitar-playing and singing talents, just cannot pull off the death metal vocals anymore. He hasn't done them on any recording in over a decade, and might as well have ceased doing them live as well and stuck to traditional singing. The performances of older material are somewhat marred by them, and the brilliance of the music could've just been emphasized even more for the better. Jonas Renske of Katatonia had the same issue and gracefully bowed out of performing those kinds of vocals anymore, so there is no reason Akerfeldt can't do the same.
Secondly, the selection of songs in the set list could have been much better. Including no songs from before Deliverance
except for one, which is partially ruined by the harsh vocals, makes for a missed opportunity and lots of material instead from the recent three prog rock albums. This may disappoint some seasoned fans who would like to hear material from their earlier work or their two best albums, Still Life
and Blackwater Park
While this is a dense listen, it could have perhaps benefited from a longer performance and expanded set list. Other prog rock and metal giants like Dream Theater and Steven Wilson regularly play 3-4 hour concerts, so there's no reason a band like Opeth couldn't extend the run time to be even just a bit longer than one hour and twenty-eight minutes. Still, the strengths of the recording and experiencing the band members' playing make for wonderful results nonetheless. Garden of the Titans
is a strong entry in the band's live catalogue by showcasing their talents delivered with fantastic sound quality that does the material more than enough justice.