Opeth - Garden Of The Titans - Live At Red Rocks Amphitheater

Year of Release: 2018
Label: Nuclear Blast
Catalog Number: NB 4767-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 01:28:06

As I am wont to do, I try to listen to - and review - something by artists attending upcoming festivals. Not always do I get the review done in time (or at all). Anyway, it is in this mode that I listened to Opeth's Garden Of The Titans, their 2018 live release of their Red Rock Amphitheatre performance.*

I am not usually one for the death metal vocals, but the music on those same tracks is compelling enough that I don't mind them here at all. Maybe with the "rawness" of performing live they feel more organic. I know that the band over the years shed much of their death metal stylings, to a point of leaving them behind. Listening to the material from Sorceress, their most recent studio release, the style would be heavy prog. To my ears, more muscular than fellow Swedes Flower Kings, but no less epic and intricate. Given this is live, some of that "weight" might be down to live performance, mix and sound, as I've not heard yet Sorceress. In fact, other than maybe a track here and there, this may be the first Opeth I've actually listened to. I'm impressed. They're fantastic!

As live releases go, this is also fantastic. Typically releases are heavy on the new album (as the concert itself would be) and throw in a few back-catalog songs, usually their big, big hits. Recorded on their 2017 tour behind Sorceress, the album contains only 3 of that album's tracks -- those who were there will know if this only a subset of what they actually played or whether that was it. The set is filled out by one track each from My Arms, Your Hearse (1998), Deliverance (2002), Damnation (2003), Ghost Reveries (2005), Watershed (2008), Heritage (2011) and Pale Communion (2014). Given the mix of death metal, prog metal and prog rock material heard here, you do get an overview of Opeth's career to date, even if doesn't dip back to their true death metal beginnings.

The sound quality here rivals a studio release -- crystal clear guitar is a highlight for me, but clearly heard vocals are also a plus (even the death metal vocals). For example, "In My Time Of Need," the mellowest track here (from Damnation) verily shimmers. It is the point in the set where the band enjoin the crowd to sing along. You really only know the album is live because between songs and during quieter moments you can hear a cheering crowd; because there is an openness to the sound that an outdoor venue has (Red Rocks is an outdoor amphitheatre; the sound has a different dynamic from an indoor performance); and because, well, banter with the audience aside, we're told it was recorded at a live show.

Under review here is just the 2-CD set, a DVD and Blu-Ray also exist (the DVD or Blu-Ray configurations also include the CDs, and the earbook version includes the DVD and Blu-Ray and the 2CDs). And for those who still own - or own again - a turntable, you can get it on vinyl! (Who says vinyl is dead?!). Aside from soon checking out the video companion, I sure will be exploring their back catalog, too. If the tracks not presented on this disc are half as good, I've been missing out. As it was for me, a good introduction to Opeth to someone otherwise unfamiliar. And were I more familiar with them, I could tell you how the live versions compare to the studio versions - do they succeed or fail to bring the songs to life live. Experience tells me that sometimes the live version is better than the studio version...when the artists actually have talent, as here.

Random thoughts: Listening to "Heir Apparent," about midway through when the vocals begin again, my first thought was... they sound like Sontarans! (A war-loving species in Dr. Who, though there is no connection other than in my sci-fi lovin' brain.) "Era," from Sorceress, makes me think of Blue Öyster Cult. The opening to "The Devil's Orchard" (Heritage) sounds a bit Spock's Beard like, before heading into more dynamic Deep Purple-eque, Black Sabbathy realms, and later some Genesis-y progginess (all of it just organically flowing). And, maybe interestingly, maybe because I am just hearing things (ha ha ha!), but there is a tinge of Marillion-ness at the beginning of the otherwise heavy, Arabic sounding "Cusp Of Eternity" (Pale Community), which only then makes me think of Orphaned Land.

[While doing some "legwork" for this review, a 2016 article from 9news.com noted some facts about the venue on its 75th anniversary -- one was that "Rock music was banned at Red Rocks for five years beginning in 1971 after a riot started on June 10 at a sold-out Jethro Tull show." Upon seeing this snippet of the full note (and the full article), I was like "riot at a Tull show? Really? A Tull show?"... but yes, really. Nothing to do with Tull itself, per se; folks without tickets trying to get in... well, read for yourself.)] * in terms of the timing of this post, they were (are) scheduled to play at Prog In The Park in July 2019.

Disc One: Sorceress (7:09) / Ghost Of Perdition (12:08) / Demon Of The Fall (9:55) / The Wilde Flowers (8:43) / In My Time Of Need (5:44)

Disc Two: The Devil's Orchard (7:11) / Cusp Of Eternity (5:14) / Heir Apparent (10:21) / Era (7:31) / Deliverance (14:13)

Mikael Åkerfeldt - vocals, guitar
Fredrik Åkesson - guitar
Martin "Axe" Axenrot - drums
Martin Mendez - bass
Joakim Svalberg - keyboards

Orchid (1995)
Morningrise (1996)
My Arms Your Hearse (1998)
Still Life (1999)
Blackwater Park (2001)
Deliverance (2002)
Damnation (2003)
Ghost Reveries (2005)
Lamentations: Live At Shepherd's Bush Empire 2003 (2006)
Opeth Box Set (2006)
Blackwater Park/Deliverance (2007)
The Roundhouse Tapes: Opeth Live (2007)
Watershed (2008)
The Candlelight Years (boxset) (2008)
The Wooden Box (boxset) (2009)
In Live Concert At The Royal Albert Hall (2010)
Heritage (2011)
Pale Communion (2014)
Deliverance & Damnation Remixed (2015)
Sorceress (2016)
Garden Of The Titans: Live At Red Rocks Amphitheatre (2018)
In Cauda Venenum (2019)

Lamenations: Live At Shepherd's Bush Empire (DVD) (2004)
The Roundhouse Tapes: Opeth Live (DVD) (2008)
In Concert At The Royal Albert Hall (DVD) (2010)
Garden Of The Titans: Live At Red Rocks Amphitheater (DVD, BR) (2018)

Genre: Progressive Metal

Origin SE

Added: June 9th 2019
Reviewer: Stephanie Sollow
Artist website: www.opeth.com
Hits: 3754
Language: english


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