Live at a legendary location, prog sorcery to the fore.
This live DVD, also available on CD and vinyl, captures the Swedish genre-mangling quintet on thrilling form at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado on a chilly night in May 2017. Progressive metal as a genre tends to involve bands that essentially play metal with longer song forms and odd time signatures, but that’s not the case with Opeth. Mikael Åkerfeldt and his bandmates can go from crushing death metal heaviness to symphonic rock, and from prog keyboard workouts to sweeping acoustic passages all within the space of a single song.
AN EXHILARATING SUMMATION OF THEIR
PROGRESS SO FAR.
It’s been eight years since their last live release with 2010’s In Live Concert At The Royal Albert Hall, and Garden Of The Titans features a completely different setlist, so there’s no danger of experiencing déjà vu. “We have a potpourri of songs,” says Åkerfeldt, perhaps the most self-effacing frontman in the business. “We’re going to play some old shit, some new shit, and just some shit.”
Filmed during the Sorceress tour, they select three songs from that album, opening with the title track which sees Joakim Svalberg channelling Jon Lord through some fabulous organ playing. Ghost Of Perdition is a monster of a track that shows how Opeth balance classic prog influences from the late 60s and early 70s with the intensity of modern Scandi death metal. The latter has often presented a barrier to the more traditionally minded sections of the prog community, particularly regarding Åkerfeldt’s growled vocals. Yet he has an excellent singing voice when not in full metal mode – as his performance in Ghost Of Perdition amply demonstrates – and that’s an increasingly rare ability in an age when too many heavy bands rely solely on incoherent growlers.
In My Time Of Need, from 2003’s Damnation, has no metal in its DNA at all with its clean guitar lines, a lush melody, and an excellent keys solo from Svalberg. The heavy prog of Cusp Of Eternity leads straight into the darkness and menace of Heir Apparent and it would be remiss not to mention drummer Martin Axenrot, whose versatility is essential to the band’s ability to morph between moods. He really drives the band on tracks like The Devil’s Orchard, hammering away like Carl Palmer or Ian Paice in full flow, yet he also can groove in 5/4 on Era, while Deliverance sees him switch between battering double-kick beats and gently tinkling his cymbals.
Opeth have spent more than 20 years pushing back the boundaries of metal and Garden Of The Titans is an exhilarating summation of their progress so far.