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The Roundhouse Tapes

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Album Review

Though Opeth have officially signed with Roadrunner, this double-live disc was released by former label Peaceville. This is welcome, because the band's first live offering, the DVD-only Lamentations: Live at Shepherd's Bush, was not able to focus on the first four recordings due to contractual problems. Apparently, this is worked out here, because all of the band's recordings are represented. That said, the Roundhouse Tapes, recorded at Camden Roundhouse, London, U.K., on November 9, 2006, is a double-disc set that captures this mighty band at their very best. The tour that Opeth undertook in support of Ghost Reveries was 18 months long; it began in June of 2005, and ended December 2006. They played 210 shows during that time. Given that this gig was near the end of the tour, it showcases the band at the zenith of their live powers. They run through not only GR material but across their entire career, digging deep into their history — that includes a 19-minute version of "Blackwater Park" on disc two. The sound is tremendous; guitarist and lead vocalist Mikael Äkerfeldt is in excellent voice throughout. His engagement with the crowd and his sense of humor are wonderfully dry and welcoming. Unlike a lot of other acts, Opeth really seem to enjoy their fans, and as a result never need to pander to them as is evidenced by this righteous slab. The sheer subtlety of some of the band's quieter moment (is there any other heavy metal group that controls and uses dynamics as much as these guys?) is almost stunning when equated with the sheer intensity of their attack on the harder edges, as in the long middle section of "Ghost of Perdition." The only confounding thing here is the odd time total for the package: an hour and a half. They certainly played longer gigs on this tour. But the length, and the sometimes thin presence of the deeply atmospheric keyboards are the only down points. As a whole, the sound is clean and Äkerfeldt's vocals, even in full Cookie Monster mode, are discernible and easily understood, and the guitar interplay between Peter Lindgren and Äkerfeldt is downright intuitive and uncanny. (This was apparently Lindgren's last appearance with Opeth as he officially left in the summer of 2007). There is one more added treat on this document, which is the inclusion of Popol Vuh's "Through Pains to Heaven" as a lengthy interlude in the middle of "Under the Weeping Moon." Opeth's fans — both hardcore and somewhat casual — will want this. It captures of the most enigmatic metal bands at their very best.


Formed: 1990 in Stockholm, Sweden

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Brought together in Stockholm by guitarists Peter Lindgren and Mikael Åkerfeldt in 1990, Opeth added progressive influences and acoustic instrumentation to their brand of Swedish death metal. As the group progressed, it was very common for an Opeth live set to fly in several different musical directions -- and an average song lasted no less than ten minutes. Impressed by their originality, Candlelight Records released their debut full-length in 1995, which was titled Orchid, and featured a rhythm...
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The Roundhouse Tapes, Opeth
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