Opeth have been around for over a decade now and their sound has gone through quite a change over the years. What started as a typical black metal band with the usual style of chunking guitar and monster mash vocals slowly but surely evolved into what has essentially become a progressive folk rock band, albeit one with a slightly darker slant than most.
Opeth – Lamentations: Live At Shepherd's Bush Empire 2003 captures the band live where the band at both sides of the spectrum and should please both fans of their more artistic acoustic side as well as those who, like myself, appreciate their heavier material as well. I don't care as much for their more progressive sound and prefer their earlier material to the direction they've taken but I can still appreciate what they're doing musically and creatively with the later recordings.
The DVD, which captures a complete performance at the Shepherd's Bush auditorium with a pack general admission crowd, contains the following tracks from throughout their discography:
2. In My Time Of Need
3. Death Whispered A Lullaby
5. Hope Leaves
6. To Rid The Disease
7. Ending Credits
10. Master's Apprentice
11. The Drapery Falls
13. The Leper Affinity
14. A Fair Judgement
The line up on the disc is as follows: Mikael Akerfeldt on guitar and vocals, Peter Lindgren on guitar, Martin Mendez on bass and Martin Lopez on drums. The band seem to be enjoying themselves in this performance, introducing each song to the crowd (who respond quite favorably throughout the show) and bantering back and forth a little bit but what really matters here is the playing. These guys know how to handle their instruments and this concert really shows off their playing skills quite admirably.
Opeth – Lamentations is presented in an anamorphic 1.85.1 transfer with sharp detail, bright vivid colors, and a nice stable picture. There are hardly any issues worth nothing in the transfer at all, it's well authored and the compression is rarely even slightly noticeable. This is a dual layered disc and there is a layer change that you can notice, but really, it's well placed and you have to be looking for it.
You've got your choice of a Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track or a DTS track, both of which sound exquisite. Bass is solid and deep and the higher ends of the band come through clearly without sounding shrill or forced. The rear channels are used to directional effects and cleverly simulate the sound for you as if you were actually standing in the audience in front of the band watching them play. There is virtually no hiss or distortion present at all and overall, this is very, very easy on the ears.
The main extra feature on this release is a lengthy documentary entitled The Making Of 'Deliverance' And 'Damnation'. It is essentially an in-depth look at the band in the studio working on their recordings and covers most aspects of its creation from pre to post production work, practicing, recording, and more. Fans are sure to enjoy this, though at times it is a tad bit dry. Overall though, it's quite an interesting piece for those who want to know what the creative process is like for the band.
In addition to the documentary, Dom Lawson contributes some interesting liner notes that detail the history of the band and their rise in popularity through the years that are worth a read.
Opeth – Lamentations nicely sums up both the progressive softer side of Opeth as well as the heavier sound which gave them their start quite nicely. Great audio and video quality is rounded out with a nice feature length documentary and fans of the band would do well to add this to their collections pronto!
Ian lives in NYC with his wife where he writes for DVD Talk, runs Rock! Shock! Pop!. He likes NYC a lot, even if it is expensive and loud.