Album Review: OPETH Garden of the Titans: Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Opeth has released a few live albums over the years, beginning with the excellent Lamentations: Live At Shepherd Bush's Empire in 2003. They had not released a live album since their primary sound shifted more dramatically from death metal to prog. That has been taken care of with Garden Of The Titans: Live At Red Rock Amphitheatre. The Colorado venue is in a beautiful outdoor setting nestled in the Rocky Mountains and has been a very popular location for live albums and DVDs over the years. Having seen a few shows there myself, it is one of the most unique and scenic places to see a concert.
The nearly 90-minute set opens with “Sorceress,” the title track from their 2016 album. The Heritage (2011)/Pale Communion (2014)/Sorceress era is well represented, with more than half the songs from those albums.
For those who aren't as enamored with Opeth's recent material, Mikael Akerfeldt and company delve into some older songs as well. Tracks like “Ghost Of Perdition” from 2005's Ghost Reveries masterfully bridge the band's different eras, with both harsh vocals and intense sections along with melodic singing and progressive parts.
Even the song that goes back the furthest in their catalog, “Demons Of The Fall” from 1998's My Arms, Your Hearse, fits in smoothly with the rest of the set. It's the heaviest track, but has mellow and progressive sections along with both death growls and singing. In listening to the original, it's easy to hear how much Akerfeldt's clean vocals have improved over the past two decades.
The band has had quite a few lineup changes over the years, but the current configuration of Akerfeldt, Fredrik Akesson (guitar), Martin Mendez (bass), Martin “Axe” Axenrot (drums) and Joakim Svalberg (keyboards) has been together for quite a while, which is evident in their musicianship. Intricate tracks like “The Wilde Flowers” are delivered flawlessly, from the harmony vocals to the dynamic arrangement. In his between-song banter, Akerfeldt does joke that all hiccups magically might disappear since they are recording it, but those are few and far between.
Opeth wrap up the show with the title track from 2002's Deliverance, an epic 14-minute song. While 2010's In Live Concert At Royal Albert Hall is a more diverse live album with songs from every album they had released up until then, Garden Of The Titans: Live At Red Rock Amphitheatre is much more cohesive, bringing old and new together. It's available in several configurations, including 2CD, Blu-ray/2CD, and vinyl.