Thursday, September 13, 2007

Just Because It Is Not Heavy Does Not Mean It Is Not Evil

Opeth – Lamentations

We've taken a bit of a break from the Opeth love here at the Asylum for a little while, mainly due to my disappointment with Still Life and Morningrise when compared to their later stuff. However I've finally managed to track down a copy of their live DVD, Lamentations, and I'm pleased to report that it's super fucking awesome.

This disc was released following their Deliverance/Damnation tour and contains material only from those two albums and from their preceding release, Blackwater Park. This just happens to be the period where, in my opinion, they were at the height of their ability. (The reason for the limited selection range of tracks included is, I believe, because of legal issues with their former record labels. They have another DVD due out later this year which covers material from an even spread of all their albums.)

The concert opens with the entire Damnation album played front to back, with 'Harvest' off Blackwater Park slotted in near the end for consistency's sake. As I mentioned in my very brief one line review of Damnation, it is a stylistic departure for the band, one where they temporarily put death metal aside completely and pulled out the acoustic guitars, clean vocals and ethnic drums to make a mellow prog rock album. Much to everyone's surprise Opeth fans as a whole, while not numbering Damnation among the best of their albums, gave it decent amount of credit and for the first half of this DVD you'll be treated to the unlikely scenario of a concert hall packed to the brim with greasy haired, black t-shirt wearing metallers standing quietly and respectfully as they listen to a dude strum away on an acoustic guitar.

But fuck if this disc didn't make me even more angry at myself for missing their concert here last year. Their albums are inspired enough but live they deliver still more intensity. The four five (mustn't forget Per tucked away behind the keyboards there!) members of the band may not be showmen like Peeping Tom or Mammal, but they all seem totally absorbed by and in love with the music they're making while onstage. The viewer is treated to many shots of leadman Mikael Akerfeldt looking skyward with eyes shut tight and a blissful look on his face as he busts out another glorious guitar solo. And speaking of Akerfeldt, fuck this guy is awesome! The whole band are brilliant musicians but he in particular astonished me with his talent. Metal vocals in a live context are always likely to disappoint but Akerfeldt's voice is if anything even better than on the albums. His cavernous growls on the heavy tracks are as great as I'd hoped but I was especially stunned by the strength of his clean singing voice during the 'mellow' part of the concert. It probably sounds like I want to marry this guy and have his babies so I will offer one criticism: what's up with that facial hair? Shave it off and then we can talk about the babies.

After they finish playing Damnation the band leave the stage for a break and return to play a totally fucking awesome set laden with the best fucking metal songs ever written; 'Master's Apprentice', 'Deliverance' and 'The Leper Affinity' are all here and would be unquestionably given six stars if my ipod allowed ratings that high. While I was more impressed by the acoustic set (I think maybe because the style was new and fresh to them the band was a little more into it) this stuff is top notch too.

And just when you thought you could turn off the computer and go to bed content in the knowledge that you just watched one of the awesomest DVDs ever, it turns out that there's a documentary on the making of Damnation and Deliverance too! It's probably not essential for anyone who's not a huge music geek and a huge fan of Opeth in particular but for me watching the arrangement and recording processes of the best fucking songwriters in the world is basically the coolest thing ever committed to digital versatile disc. By the time it got round to the footage showing the guitarists recording almost every solo on Deliverance!!! I was pretty much delirious with delight.

Oh Opeth. Don't ever stop being awesome. Here's 'Death Whispered A Lullaby':

No comments: