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Opeth: In Live Concert at The Royal Albert Hall (DVD/CD)

Hard to believe Opeth are celebrating 20 years as a band. I mean, it seems like only yesterday when they released the monumental Blackwater Park album in 2001, but they had already been around as a band for a decade prior to the release of that breakthrough album. To celebrate, the band planned 6 shows around the world in early 2010, labeled 'Evolution XX' , and performed the entire Blackwater Park album, as well as a second set consisting of one song from each album in their discography, played chronologically. Of the six shows, the one at the famous Royal Albert Hall in London, where many classical, opera, and even a few prog rock concerts have been performed, was chosen for this DVD.

As an attendee to one of the 6 concerts (the New York City show at Terminal 5), I can say that this was a show not to be missed for any loyal Opeth fan. In case you did happen to miss this short but very special tour, you'll want to be sure to get your hands on this massive DVD/CD box set. Not only does it contain 2 DVDs of the entire Royal Albert Hall performance, but it also features a lengthy interview with Mikael Akerfeldt, where he answers questions sent in by fans, and a fascinating documentary of the Evolution XX tour. The behind the scenes footage here is great, and for the first time we get a look at the band and see just how normal they really are.

As for the performance, the Blackwater Park set opens the show, and is flawless. Just as I noted in my review of the NYC show, at The Royal Albert Hall, there was no between song banter between Akerfeldt and the audience during this first set, as the band just rampaged through each cut from Blackwater Park with no interruptions other than a quick tune up or drink of water. The band is tight and spot on as they rip through complex classics such as "The Leper Affinity", "Bleak", "The Drapery Falls", "The Funeral Portrait", and the epic title track, but also show their tender, almost folky side on "Dirge for November", "Harvest", and "Patterns in the Ivy". Over onto DVD2 comes the second set, which features one song from each of the other Opeth albums, played from earliest to most recent. Good selections here, including some that don't get played live by the band often, including "Advent" from Morningrise, "The Moor" from the classic Still Life, the massively heavy "Wreath" from Deliverance, and perhaps one of the standout numbers here, "Harlequin Forest" from Ghost Reveries. A fitting climax comes with "The Lotus Eater" from Watershed, the bands most recent album, and its mix of death metal, prog, folk, and jazz encapsulates everything that this concert, and the band in general, is all about.

The line-up here is Akerfeldt, new lead guitarist Fredrik Akesson, new drummer Martin Axenrot, keyboard player Per Wiberg, and longtime bassist Martin Mendez. Seeing as this formation of Opeth has only been together a few short years, they played like they have been together for decades. Despite some technical difficulties with Akesson's guitar during the finale "The Lotus Eaters", the set is performed flawlessly by all, especially the two guitarists Akerfeldt & Akesson. Mikael is also in great form vocally, though you have to wonder (and you'll hear his comments on the interview with him) what the future holds for death growls in this band. You can hear on this DVD how he seems to have changed the growls slightly (perhaps to save his voice for the future, or it could be he was having vocal issues on this tour, as at the NY show I also noticed this), as they seem a little deeper and less snarling than in the past. Time will tell I suppose, but needless to say, his clean vocals keep getting better.

Toss in 3 CDs that include the entire performance from the Royal Albert Hall in audio, and you can take Evolution XX with you just about anywhere. End result is an essential purchase for all Opeth fans.

Track Listing
DVD 1-Observation One
1) The Leper Affinity
2) Bleak
3) Harvest
4) The Drapery Falls
5) Dirge for November
6) The Funeral Portrait
7) Patterns in the Ivy
8) Blackwater Park
Interview with Mikael Akerfeldt

DVD 2-Observation Two
1) Forest of October
2) Advent
3) April Ethereal
4) The Moor
5) Wreath
6) Hope Leaves
7) Harlequin Forest
8) The Lotus Eater
Ducumentary-On Tour with Opeth

Plus an additional 3 CDs with the entire set list from the DVDs

Added: November 5th 2010
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Band Website
Hits: 3448
Language: english

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Opeth: In Live Concert at The Royal Albert Hall (DVD/CD)
Posted by Jordan Blum, SoT Staff Writer on 2010-11-05 15:53:15
My Score:

Mikael Åkerfeldt has never been shy about his love for Deep Purple. Serving as the creative force and frontman for Swedish progressive death metal band Opeth since 1990, he has praised the 1970s legends constantly. It makes sense, then, that the cover of In Live Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, their new two disc 20th anniversary DVD, replicates the title and cover from a Deep Purple release ten years prior. It is a fantastic collection of live footage and bonus material that celebrates the history of one of the most unique, influential and greatest metal bands of all time.

Opeth have had many line-up changes over the years, but nothing has had as big an impact as the departure of guitarist/co-songwriter Peter Lindgren (1991 – 2007) and drummer Martin Lopez (1997 – 2008). Both left after Ghost Reveries, and were replaced by Fredrik Åkesson and Martin Axenrot, respectively, for their last album, Watershed. They join Opeth natives Åkerfeldt, bassist Martin Mendez (1997 - ) and newcomer, keyboardist Per Wiberg (2005 - ) on In Live Concert…While the new members certainly suffice, it is ironic that Lindgren and Lopez aren't present on the DVD that honors the music they helped make so special.

The first disc consists of Opeth's seminal fifth album, Blackwater Park, played it its entirety. Often considered their best album (I'll always regard Still Life as their masterpiece), the energy and bond between the band and the audience is extraordinary throughout. Oddly, the band never really talks to the audience between songs, choosing to simply segue from one track to the next without interruption. Still, you can see the joy on their faces (especially Åkerfeldt) at both the reception and nostalgia that comes with playing Blackwater Park all the way through. Always very modest about his talent and success, one can feel the appreciation the guys have for being so fortunate and beloved for so long, and they recreate the music perfectly.

Disc two is just as interesting; a single song from each of their other eight studio albums (in chronological order) is performed. Hearing the band journey throughout their entire career really shows how much they've grown over the last two decades. While every album is a gem, most fans agree that Orchid and Morningrise are the weakest entries, and, like every great band, Opeth have continually gotten more refined since their third album, My Arms, Your Hearse. Classic like "The Moor," "Harlequin Forest," "The Lotus Eater" and "Hope Leaves" (from their mellow and growl-less seventh album, Damnation, which is another opus) are greeted with much applause. It's just as good as the first half of the show.

The audio and visuals for the concert is outstanding as well. Every note is clear, and each timbre is exact. Åkerfeldt sounds more evil than ever when he screams, and equally angelic when he sings. Likewise, the rest of the band is phenomenal. Luckily, rather than being subjected to obnoxious and unrelated images, the entire concert is focused on the band; dynamic camera angels capture everything in an interesting way. This is how a concert film should be shot and recorded.

The bonus material includes a very revealing and candid one-on-one interview with Åkerfeldt, where he discusses what you'd expect – Opeth, what music he loves, his personal life, etc. He is just as much in love with collecting his favorite albums as making other people's favorite albums, and again, the humility he possesses makes him a very likeable guy. It's captivating. Also in the set is the documentary, "On Tour with Opeth." It shows the standard stuff – rehearsal, travelling, discussions, fans, etc. Some of it is actually pretty funny too, revealing a group of friends who pick on each other as well as a group of great musicians. Both pieces are about forty-three minutes long.

The aspect that has always set Opeth apart from their contemporaries is the intelligence, integrity and intricacy of their work. With epic concepts, heartfelt lyrics, demonic/angelic vocals, amazing dynamical shifts, and progressive styles, Opeth don't merely make music; they create art. While they have many influences and just as many emulators, they are one of a kind, and In Live Concert at the Royal Albert Hall is a magnificent commemorative.

» Reader Comments:

Opeth: In Live Concert at The Royal Albert Hall (DVD/CD)
Posted by ??? on 2010-11-07 09:08:52
My Score:

"their new two disc 20th anniversary DVD, replicates the title and cover from a Deep Purple release ten years prior."

Concerto for Group and Orchestra was released in 1969. You have the wrong cover and live album. Deep Purple - The Royal Albert Hall Live was released in 1999. You went for the matching titles and different covers.

Each timbre is exact? This is not a flat transfer. So, how can they be exact?

Opeth: In Live Concert at The Royal Albert Hall (DVD/CD)
Posted by JS on 2010-10-03 16:52:30
My Score:

The vinyl was manufactured by Record Industry, Haarlem, The Netherlands.

Opeth: In Live Concert at The Royal Albert Hall (DVD/CD)
Posted by ??? on 2010-09-29 13:22:22
My Score:

Well, I have received the vinyl and have to say, "what a relief." The dynamic range (variances from -17db to around -6db) is intact and it sounds so much better. I took my copy and flat transferred the LP's to a 24/192 DVD Audio. I did notice on a few songs a shortage in the 11khz and 17khz range, but that is when the band was in pure, "full death" mode. The vinyl is much warmer as it is customary to have the highs rolled off. If this was transferred from a digital source, they did their job very well because usually you will see quite a lot of action above 20khz and there is none on the vinyl copy. It is possible that the EQ was manipulated that way, but there is a need to analyze it further. I have only played the actual vinyl version one time and am listening to the Hi Rez version that was fashioned from it. Nobody probably gives a damn anyway.

The packaging of this box was nice, but I don't know if it is worth the price. One should receive the deluxe DVD/CD set if you purchase this version, but you only get the DVDs and they are cheaply fastened to a Lp Jacket and no more. The book and the lithograph are nice. It is just that you usually get a free litho when you purchased a vinyl from best buy. Again, they give those damn things away. This should have been signed to be worth anything. The vinyl is pressed dead flat and tomb quiet. Not a single tick! I would like to know where it was pressed? Can't help thinking Pallas in Germany, but not sure about that. I may have over looked this in the credits. If you want to hear this concert sound good; the vinyl version is the only one that truly sings. Upgraded to 8.5 from previous review.

Opeth: In Live Concert at The Royal Albert Hall (DVD/CD)
Posted by ??? on 2010-09-26 21:13:57
My Score:

Great review, but I think the Death Metal vocals are nothing short of terrible on this. It just about sacks the release as the vocals are such a huge element of the sound. In that respect, it does not pay tribute to Blackwater Park. Leave the experimenting for the future because trying to "slip it on" with the classic catalog as a way of getting us used to it for the future may be a terrible career move. Either sing all the time or leave the death vocals alone. Doing either half-assed will get you nowhere. Personally, I say to sing 100% of the time. Mike has a killer voice and the death vocals could be sung if done with "extreme" conviction.

The production values of the advance Flac files I received are not good. The recording has alot of noise, due to the copious amounts of compression added in the mastering stage. To be a "prog" band and eschew dynamic recording principals in lieu of contemporary production standards leaves me a little cold. When the vinyl version arrives I will amend these comments if warranted.

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