OPETH

Live at a leg­endary lo­ca­tion, prog sor­cery to the fore.

Prog - - Images & Words - DAVID WEST

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.

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