Review: Opeth – In Live Concert At The Royal Albert Hall (DVD/CD)

In the words of Mikael Åkerfeldt, Opeth are bringing Death Metal within the walls of fine culture, in their latest DVD release recorded from their concert at the UK’s Royal Albert Hall. Metalheads may be “fucking ugly” (Åkerfeldt’s words again), but the Death Metal on display here certainly is not. Summing up the brilliance of Opeth‘s music as merely Death Metal only tells one side of the story, as they combine the harshest sounds of Death Metal with everything from Prog Rock, to Folk and Jazz, to The Blues. Opeth‘s music is like the Beauty and the Beast of Metal, with equal measures of both beautiful solemn music and brutal beastly Metal.

So how well do the band perform live? Well damn well, everyone should know that, but is this boxset worth your time and money? And how does it compare to past Opeth releases? Only one way to find out… Click that ‘Continue Reading’ button my friends.

So what is the DVD all about? Well the DVD was recorded on April 5, 2010 and was released on September 20, 2010 in Europe. The concert was part of the band’s Evolution XX: An Opeth Anthology tour, made in celebration of their 20th anniversary, and was the fourth show of the tour, filmed at the prestigious Royal Albert Hall in London, UK. There are three different packages available: The standard double-DVD including bonus features, a five-disc boxset that consists of two DVDs and three CDs, and finally a limited-edition vinyl box set which consists of the double-DVD, a set of four LPs of the concert’s live audio in its entirety and some other shit. For the purpose of this review, I am reviewing the 5 disc boxset, but it really doesn’t make a whole lot of difference. Buy which ever package is right for you that you can afford.

So 5 discs ‘ey? What’s on the 5 discs? Well, the first two discs are DVDs of the entire concert, whilst the following three discs are all like the first two discs, just without the pretty visuals. In other words, there are 2 DVDs, and then 3 audio CDs of the concert.

The first DVD is real porn to me. Forget Sasha Gray, this is the real hardcore stuff right here. The band’s Master of Puppets, their Number of the Beast, their Darkside of the Moon, and their Naughty Schoolgirls Volume 6 (wait… forget that last one) is played in its entirety for the first time (Well, probably the first time. I’m not a geek, so give me a break). I’m talking, of course, about Opeth‘s Opus, Blackwater Park. Each note, each beat and each riff is played absolutely flawlessly, down to the piano parts and background keyboards. In actual fact, you could probably play the studio album and you wouldn’t notice the difference if it wasn’t for the crowd and occasional talking from frontman Åkerfeldt. Overall, the performance of Blackwater Park is brilliant, and I’ve already jacked off to it 4 times, but enough about that, because this is Opeth and I need to go high-brow on your asses. My only minor complaint, I guess, is it’s almost too perfect. I’ve already paid for the studio albums, so a live album that sounds good enough to be a studio album is a tad of a let down. Or maybe I’m just too hard to please (although my ex would disagree).

So I bet you think that’s your lot? The band play their legendary Blackwater Park album in full, and the concert finishes? Wrong, if you stick on the second DVD, you get the rest of the concert. The band play one song, from each of their albums (excluding Blackwater Park of course), in chronological order. So you get to hear the band developing right before your eyes, not that they actually developed that much mind, Opeth were always fantastic.

In terms of the technical shit, the DVD is produced very well. The visuals are crisp and sound production is great, with everything being well heard in the mix. The concert in total is nearly 3 hours, so there’s a whole wealth of material to watch and listen to here, but on top of that, there’s the special features too. On one of the DVD’s, there is a 45 minute documentary, which die-hard fans will probably love, whilst the rest of us sit bored thinking “I’m bored, when are they going to play some music?” In case it isn’t obvious, those mandatory documentaries they shove on music DVDs bore me rigid, so sue me.

Overall, the collection is technically brilliant, but it’s not without its flaws. As I mentioned earlier, the live performances are incredibly close to that of the studio albums. Although this is technically speaking, fantastic, it does bring to question the point of listening to/watching it live. Opeth, in addition, are an album band. By which I mean, each album is like its separate piece of art, where each song flows into the next, In a live setting, bands like Opeth don’t work so well in my opinion. Sure, there is Blackwater Park here in its entirety, but the rest of the concert doesn’t flow so well.

Hardcore fans will probably love this, but casual listeners should perhaps be more weary of purchasing this unless they really desire it. I give the set 7.5 out of 10. If you’re a big fan, feel free to add 1. If you’re a casual fan, perhaps lower the score accordantly.

Overall: 7.5/10

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