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Music DVD Review: Opeth – Opeth The Roundhouse Tapes

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One year after being released on double CD, and a full two years after the event itself, Opeth The Roundhouse Tapes finally came out on DVD in November 2008.

It has been reviewed here before: check out the excellent review by Blogcritics own Aaron Fleming, written from the perspective of someone fortunate enough to have been there on the night.

For those of us that missed it, we now have this nicely packaged DVD set to fall back on.
So wind up that surround sound, dust off your flat screen, check that the neighbours are out for a couple of hours, pull open a beer, and watch one of rock’s finest bands at their intense and passionate best.

Obviously the double CD release, reviewed by BC’s Chris Beaumont late last year, captures the gig but there is something about the presence and charismatic power of Sweden’s Opeth that cries out to be seen.

They are, in short, one of the premier epic metal bands of recent times. This concert not only captures them live but does so in one of London’s most famous and atmospheric haunts, the world renowned Roundhouse.

It arrives nicely packaged. One disc, an artistically photographed booklet, hard sleeve, and the nice additional touch of a set of postcards of each band member. For extras you have band interviews, fan interviews, a gallery, but best of all is the fascinating film of the band’s sound check for the gig.

They open the concert itself with the full on drama of “When”, taken from their 1998 album, My Arms Your Hearse. The film constantly cuts from band member to band member, back to the crowd, all from numerous angles, in a fast paced sequencing that helps to bring out the drama and scale of the event.

The sound is excellent, the film crystal clear, and the angles well used. The crowd are up for it and the band hit their trademark high from the off.

Since forming in 1990 Sweden’s Opeth has always been at the pinnacle of progressive death metal. Heavily influenced by elements ranging from folk to epic metal, Opeth move from dark to light, dynamic to the softest melodic acoustically based shifts, creating an unforgettable, and relentlessly intense atmosphere.

When “Ghost Of Perdition”, from 2005’s Ghost Reveries album, kicks in you know that you are in for a special ride. “Under The Weeping Moon” has long standing lead singer, guitarist Mikael Akerfeldt on typically mesmerising form. Ranging from death growls through to ‘clean’ vocals the next, he possesses an undeniable stage presence and charisma.

His trademark introductions are included and sees him characteristically entertaining the audienc, never more so than when he introduces “Under The Weeping Moon”. This one dates back an astonishing thirteen years to the bands first album Orchid released in 1995.

The well chosen set list which delves deeply into their past should please most, if not all. Next up “Bleak”, from their fifth studio album Blackwater Park, gets an immediate reaction as anything from that album no doubt would. The beautiful and familiar opening of “Face Of Melinda”, from 1999’s Still Life, gradually unfolds into a lavish Opeth soundscape.

“The Night And The Silent Water”, from 1996’s Morningrise, switches from dark to light effortlessly. “Windowpane” the 2003 single from their impressive and highly regarded release Damnation follows. It was an album that represented somewhat of a shift for the band and remains a high among the many highpoints.

They round off the main set with the amazing “Blackwater Park”. Guaranteed to get any crowd going, the Roundhouse one needs little encouragement. This is the epitome of the multi layered drama that Opeth can create.

The band reappears and gives us a Zeppelinesque “No Quarter” backing as Mikael introduces the band, and indeed himself. The drama of “Demon Of The Fall”, from My Arms Your Hearse, brings this comprehensive trip through the band’s history to an end.

Since this concert was filmed Opeth have released the Watershed album. This is a welcome addition and sits well alongside 2003’s Lamentations DVD. No fan of Opeth would be seen dead without it I guess.

Please read Aaron Fleming’s review of this DVD, or Chris Beaumont’s review of the earlier double CD album. Also, make the time to visit Opeth’s official website.

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About Jeff Perkins