A live-album is nothing scarce for the modern day music lover and Opeth fans are not excluded as Opeth, twelve full-length albums into the career, released their fifth live documentation, namely the “Garden of the Titans: Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre”.
Personally, I’m not a super enthusiast when it comes to live albums, and except the regular return to childhood classics as “Alive!”, “Live after Death”, “World Wide Live“ and “Live Evil”, I rarely feel any need to put on a live recording rather than listen to a studio album, but sure, sometimes it may be fun to listen to a live performance as a change.
The song selection on “Garden of the Titans” primary focuses on Opeth’s later, more “70’s-progressive” career, and in addition to three songs from their last album, “Sorceress”, we get one song each from the albums reaching back to “Deliverance”, as well as a song from their third, and thus the oldest on this live recording, album, “My Arms, Your Hearse”. In my opinion it’s an OK choice of material since I like their 70’s-sounding material better than their early, more death-oriented songs, even if I’d love to hear at least one song from their, in my eyes, best album (along with “Heritage”) “Blackwater park”, and that gladly in expense of “In my Time of Need” from the boring all-acoustic record “Damnation”.
The balance, and contrast between the hard and soft is the key to what make Opeth an interesting band and when it comes to the rough stuff, I actually think they deliver those parts better here than on the studio recordings, where they often appears to be a bit tame. Of course, we’re after all talking about Opeth here, everything, ranging from the brutal Death Metal-stuff to the most delicate moments, is extremely well performed and sounds very much as the studio versions of the songs.
I was a bit worried that Mikael Åkerfeldt should be drifting away a bit between the songs. Mikael is known for an entertaining and vivid appearance, joking around about this and that in between the numbers, something that of course is fun for the moment but also risks being tedious if it is repeated again and again on a record. Mikael, however, avoids that trap and, although hardly delivering any future classics such as “Scream for Me, Long Beach”, he keeps it on a nice level without the risk of feeling too repetitive during future listenings.
The sound on the album is close to amazing, everything is crisp and clear and all instruments appear surprisingly distinct and really well mixed, yes, it almost feels like Opeth on this live-album succeeds to get a better sound than many other bands manage to get in a studio. Even the audience, who sounds extremely dedicated between the songs, is at a level where they create a great live-feeling without ever being allowed to take over and disturb the music.
Overall, “Garden of the Titans: Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre” is a really well executed live-album! Sure, it’s hard to achieve the same cult status as, for example Rainbow’s “On Stage” or Judas Priest’s “Unleashed in the East”, but who knows where we will be in thirty years or so. If you like Opeth and especially their later career, I do not think you will be disappointed in this album, neither regarding the choice of songs, the sound or the performance!
Title: Garden of the Titans: Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Label: Moderbolaget Records/Nuclear Blast
Date of release: 2/11-18
Stand out track: The Devil’s Orchard