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Opeth - Lamentations: Live at Shepherd's Bush CD (album) cover




Tech/Extreme Prog Metal

4.06 | 227 ratings

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4 stars This DVD contains a live performance recorded in London and a documentary about the band and the studio recordings of both Deliverance and Damnation. The documentary reveals a lot about the band and really is essential material for bands interested in seeing how "the big" boys do it exactly, both on stage and in the studio.

As for the show, Opeth performs two sets, the first part playing a lot like an MTV unplugged session containing all 8 tracks from their all acoustic Damnation album. Plus you get a little bonus song, "Harvest" off Blackwater Park. The second set contains 5 classic Opeth tracks showing the heavier, more brutal side of the band.

Set 1 - Time: 1h03m

There is no denying the very high calibre and overall level of musicianship found here. Very impressive performance by all. Akerfeldt sings with a clean soothing voice and plays acoustic and lead guitars. Akerfeldt also does most if not all of the solo work here, relegating all rhythm parts to Lindgren. I was most impressed though with Lindgren's performance. This guy can really play the guitar but here he demonstrates just how a good musician he really is and how one must not neglect his rhythm playing abilities. This skilful demonstration of his rhythm playing - I'm talking about all the varying picking and strumming patterns here and not just in every song but within every song - and it is even more evident during the second set where he shares a little more of the solo duties with Akerfeldt.

As a musician, I have stressed the importance of rhythm guitar playing to my daughter, and I believe this has inevitably made her a better guitarist and songwriter over the years. Every great guitarist is first a great rhythm guitar player and nobody demonstrates this better than Lindgren. When you watch the documentary after the show, you will see and hear Lindgren play in the studio. This guy plays half the solos on the albums. So, it doesn't matter how good a guitar player you are, when performing live, Lindgren's prowess on the guitar and impeccable playing keeps everything flowing along wonderfully. So when Akerfeldt states during the performance that he hopes they don't make to many f**k-ups during the show, I think he must be talking about himself? Because the rest of the boys don't f**k-up and Lindgren certainly doesn't f**k anything up. Bass player Martin Mendez is always in the groove, taking his cue from the drums and banging his head when the music requires him too. Even Per Wiberg who makes a guest appearance for this show performing keyboards and doing all the backup vocals really does a bang job here.

On first viewing the concert, drummer Martin Lopez almost looks like he's going to fall asleep during the acoustic set! Actually, with all the intricate rhythm patterns and cymbal work that he does, it is amazing he doesn't get them all screwed up from song to song. I don't know how he does it? He never misses a beat. On second look, you can see that when he closes his eyes, that he is actually fully concentrated and committed to the drum work at hand.

There are some highlight's worthy of mention during the acoustic set. I really enjoyed "Windowpane" and "In My Time of Need", excellent tracks to open the show. I was very impressed with the very energetic performance on "Closure" and the excellent and incredible vibe created on "Ending Credits." The only "problems" worth mentioning are probably Akerfeldt's own "flat" vocal moments and perhaps some of the camera movements during the show...

Set 2 - Time: 58 minutes

The band wastes no time opening the second set with headbanging double bass drums and crunchy guitar riffs with Akerfelt's growl for a more heavy brutal sound and all out death metal experience. In all honesty, every song is an experience in brutal bone crushing extreme metal and they alternate between some very heavy moments found on both Deliverance and Blackwater Park. To go from an all acoustic session to a most extreme metal experience in the same show is disconcerting for the uninitiated viewer. As Akerfeldt states after the opening song in the second set: "There might be a few people who have never heard this side of Opeth before, but this is really what we sound like!" A progressive death metal band is really what they are, combining soft atmospheric acoustic passages with heavy as hell musical moments and they make it all look so easy!

There are no pyrotechnics, no laser light show to detract you from the music, just some very modest lighting equipment. The boys perform like the professional veterans they are and everything just looks and feels like second nature to them. This is perhaps the reason why every band should view this DVD.

There are highlight's during the second set as well. Martin Lopez woke up from his semi- dormant trance and comes out swinging and pounding just in time to finish the show in style, clearly demonstrating he is in total command of his drum set. Both "Deliverance" and "The Leper Affinity" were big moments for me during the show but every song in the second set was a highlight! The solo work of both Akerfeld and Lindgren are awesome and a must see.

If you take the acoustic parts found in set one and add some brutal bone crushing moments, you would start to get a feel for Opeth's very complex and lengthy "death metal" songs. When you see how they do it, how they put it all together and pull it off in a live performance, you also "get" the magnitude of the talent inherent in this band. Even if you are not into death metal, view it for Akerfeldt's occasional smooth clean vocal lines (in set two), view it for the drum work, the bass work or for all the guitar work including the atmospheric keyboard work of Per Wiberg! You'll understand why he joined the band after seeing this performance. The boys deliver big time and it's all here for your enjoyment...

The Documentary

In addition to viewing the bands recording process, here is where you get to see each member in action in the studio. You also get to hear what each member has to say about the band and how they got started in music. There is no mistaking that Akerfelt is the man. He writes the songs (music and lyrics) and he takes everything to the studio without rehearsal. (Although there's talk about rehearsing a little for the next Akerfelt allows the members of the band to give their input, he is very open to suggestions and when he likes what he hears you can see him smiling a lot. With the overall high level calibre of musicians on hand, and the obvious chemistry and compatibility between the members there's no wonder we see Akerfelt smiling at every turn. He is surrounded not only by great musicians but by good, very sensible guys.

The documentary is not only an opportunity to see each individual band members showing off their skills and home studios but it is the chance to see and hear what everybody thinks as well! Just an ordinary bunch of guys in an extraordinary band! Any one of these guys could have excelled in just about any genre or style of music. And they are all members of Opeth, the most recognized progressive death metal band in the world!

The DVD is worth the small amount of money it is going to cost you, which is less than the price of a CD! You also get to choose the sound which comes in Stereo, 5.1 Surround or DTS. If you like progressive rock and acoustic settings, you will enjoy the first set and the documentary. If you are into heavy metal or extreme metal, you will really enjoy set 2 and the documentary. If you are a musician - guitar, bass or drums - and you like all genres of music, get this DVD as a learning tool.

With this documentary, Lamentations is so much more than just another live DVD, you get a live performance and more importantly, you learn so much more about the band.

Vanwarp | 4/5 |


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