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Opeth - "The Roundhouse Tapes" (2-CD Set)

Opeth - "The Roundhouse Tapes" 2-CD Set cover image

"The Roundhouse Tapes" track listing:

Disc 1:
1. When (10:28)
2. Ghost of Perdition (10:57)
3. Under the Weeping Moon (10:28)
4. Bleak (8:39)
5. Face of Melinda (9:58)
6. The Night and the Silent Water (10:29)

Disc 2:
1. Windowpane (8:01)
2. Blackwater Park (18:59)
3. Demon of the Fall (8:13)

Reviewed by on December 13, 2007

"The death growls are extremely deep, and Akerfeldt does not shy away from the heftier vocals"

It should be mentioned, first and foremost, that I would usually not recommend live albums, simply because live performances are full of the adrenaline, atmosphere, and interaction that are simply unavailable on the recording. “The Roundhouse Tapes,” though, contains the interaction between Mikael Akerfeldt and fans, which is humorous at times, and the album also showcases a crisp sound transfer. While it’s not enough to make Opeth fans salivate over rare covers or vastly different material, it does just enough to stand out as a better-than-average live album.

Anyone who has seen death/hardcore/metalcore acts live knows that it can be a real hit-or-miss affair. Let’s face it, those grunts and growls are hard to replicate live. One thing that is apparent in “The Roundhouse Tapes” is that Mikael Akerfeldt does a nice job handling the brutal vocals that coincide so nicely with his sixties/seventies-rock clean-vocals. The death growls are extremely deep, and Akerfeldt does not shy away from the heftier vocals. Specifically, Akerfeldt crushes the live version of “Blackwater Park,” which is the home run of this album. The track leads off with what, from what I’ve seen of Opeth’s live performance videos, is a standard moment where Akerfeldt asks the audience to sing along with the intro note to the song (which comes over the P.A.). The rest of the track is mostly true to the original recording, and it’s a massive, heavy song that contains one of the most headbanging moments ever at 2:22 (the guitar riff kick-in). This is a metal masterpiece, for sure.

“The Roundhouse Tapes” is not without its setbacks, though. The biggest down side is the limited number of tracks. My personal favorite, “Beneath the Mire,” for instance, is nowhere to be found. Most Opeth fans will surely find that some of their personal favorites are not part of this 9-song package. And sticking with the negatives, while Akerfeldt is somewhat humorous on the album, some of the banter is a little typical and below what one might expect from Opeth’s monolithic frontman. I’m mainly speaking of his intro to “Windowpane,” which, Akerfeldt professes, “will get us chicks backstage.” He also manages to tell one audience member to “shut the fuck up,” which, again, is pretty standard metal fare, but a little beneath what I was hoping for from Akerfeldt. He does admit that at one point in their career they were “pretentious,” and I’m not sure that’s changed as much as Akerfeldt would like to believe.

Overall, this album doesn’t do enough to make it a must-own for metal fans, but if any metalhead is missing these songs in their original recording, “The Roundhouse Tapes” would be a nice way to fill in the Opeth library. Even those fans who own all of Opeth’s albums will find that they might want to check out this live disc just for the impressive live version of “Blackwater Park.”

Highs: "Blackwater Park," live, is a masterpiece

Lows: Limited number of tracks

Bottom line: While it’s not enough to make Opeth fans salivate over rare covers or vastly different material, it does just enough to stand out as a better-than-average live album.

Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls
3.5 out of 5 skulls


Key
Rating Description
Rated 5 out of 5 skulls Perfection. (No discernable flaws; one of the reviewer's all-time favorites)
Rated 4.5 out of 5 skulls Near Perfection. (An instant classic with some minor imperfections)
Rated 4 out of 5 skulls Excellent. (An excellent effort worth picking up)
Rated 3.5 out of 5 skulls Good. (A good effort, worth checking out or picking up)
Rated 3 out of 5 skulls Decent. (A decent effort worth checking out if the style fits your tastes)
Rated 2.5 out of 5 skulls Average. (Nothing special; worth checking out if the style fits your taste)
Rated 2 out of 5 skulls Fair. (There is better metal out there)
< 2 skulls Pretty Bad. (Don't bother)