Garden Of The Titans (Live At The Red Rocks Amphitheatre) by Opeth (Nuclear Blast Records)
Opeth, who started out as mainly a Death Metal band, has incorporated Jazz, Folk and quieter elements into their otherwise heavy sound. Damnation and Deliverance split the lighter and the heavier arrangements back in 2002-2003 and front man Mikael Akerfeldt can sing as well as growl. So when I asked him some years back why he didn’t sing more he replied that he loved the catharsis of growling. Three albums of clean singing followed that interview. Live, Opeth stuck to only songs with singing for a tour, then began to bring back the growling, more metal songs into their sets. Garden Of The Titans with it’s silly title and flowers around a monument of the band’s busts, shows that Opeth don’t take themselves too seriously, but are a seriously tight band of excellent musicians.
Recorded at Red Rocks Amphitheatre outside of Denver, Colorado, Opeth begin their set with Sorceress. Keyboardist Joakim Svalberg, bassist Martin Mendez and drummer Martin “Axe” Axenrot get jazzy in the playful opening, joined by Fredrik Åkesson and Akerfeldt on chugging guitars pulling us into the depths of Hell. Ghosts of Perdition evokes blood-soaked battlefields, tired arms lifting swords and shields as the Raven Queen and her Handmaidens scour the terrain to usher souls to the Afterlife. Akerfeldt’s evil growls and angelic singing all the narration we need. In My Time Of Need, originally from Damnation is one of Opeth’s prettiest songs, giving the audience a sense of wonder while taking a breather from the heavier numbers. The Devil’s Orchard follows, stunning the ears with Akesson’s twisty guitars and Svalberg’s sometimes soothing sometimes loopy keys.
Garden Of The Titans closes with the classic Deliverance, trading violent and pretty parts, likely setting the audience to flinging their hair and banging their heads in abandon. Searing guitars flow one into another excellent lead, until THAT guitar line at the end takes us all to Heavy Metal Valhalla.
Opeth are one of the most unique yet accessible hard rock bands out there, reaching fans of all stripes and their live shows, as heard on Garden Of The Titans, are not to be missed.
(Review by Bret Miller)
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