Formed in Stockholm, Sweden nearly three decades ago, Opeth has been a band that has never stood still creatively. Led by main Songwriter, Vocalist, and Guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt, the only objective that has been consistent for Opeth through the years is to do what moves them and the rest has followed. Starting out as a Melodic Death Metal act, the Progressive Rock tendencies were as clear as day from early on. With that, Opeth has kept their loyal fanbase guessing, crafting no two albums that are alike consecutively, or ever for that matter. The bottom line, expect the unexpected when it comes to Opeth.
That all in mind, for the first time in nearly a decade, Opeth is set to release a live album, Garden of the Titans: Live at Red Rocks Amphitheater. The second ever record released on the imprint label Moderbolaget Records through Nuclear Blast, the first being the 2016 studio LP Sorceress, the new live effort will come to DVD, Blu-Ray, CD, and vinyl on Friday, November 2, 2018. Captured by The Deka Brothers (Carpenter Brut, The Prodigy), with audio mixed by David Castillo (Bloodbath, Katatonia), is it just another live record, or something more?
As mentioned, their first live album/concert DVD in some time, the last being 2010’s In Live Concert at the Royal Albert Hall, Opeth did a fitting job of selecting the world renowned Red Rocks Amphitheater in Denver, Colorado as their filming location. Nestled in the perfect acoustic surroundings of Red Rocks, the show was captured on the chilling evening of May 11, 2017 when Opeth hosted a bill including Gojira and Devin Townsend Project. Amidst their brief North American tour in support of Sorceress, Åkerfeldt, Martín Méndez (bass), Martin “Axe” Axenrot (drums), Fredrik Åkesson (guitar), and Joakim Svalberg (keyboards) were in peak form for the documentation of a live performance.
Most who know Opeth have more than likely seen the band live at least a handful of times through the years. Whether it be back in the day when they toured their first all Progressive Rock album, Damnation, in 2003 or more recently in 2016, when Sorceress came out. With that familiarity, fans know that Opeth is an exciting live band musically, paying close attention to the details of each song. You are not going to witness Åkerfeldt jumping 10 feet in the air while striking a power chord, but you will get a thoughtful, ambient show. The performance at Red Rocks Amphitheater is really no different. The set is a mix of old and new tracks, with some moments including “Ghost Of Perdition,” “In My Time Of Need,” and “Era.” They even mixed in the oldie “Demon Of The Fall,” no doubt something that will please the most straight-ahead Death Metal lover.
In between the lines, there were a total of ten songs performed, with none really any weaker or less interesting than the other. If anything, the set showed that when mixed in a cauldron and served up as a smörgåsbord, Opeth’s catalog is really quite compelling. Then, of course, there is the sense of humor of Åkerfeldt thrown in for good measure here and there between songs. A very talented composer, Åkerfeldt’s approach is mellow, sometimes dry, but always managing to makes you chuckle.
All and all, given the song selection, backdrop of Red Rock, sound quality, and of course the visual of the DVD/Blu-ray, Garden of the Titans: Live at Red Rocks Amphitheater is a very enjoyable live record. It is the perfect length and gives Opeth fans a good balance of everything they have to offer wrapped up nicely for home entertainment consumption. That is why CrypticRock gives Garden of the Titans: Live at Red Rocks Amphitheater 4.5 out of 5 stars.