OPETH
"The Roundhouse Tapes"

(Koch/Peaceville)

01. When
02. Ghost of Perdition
03. Under the Weeping Moon
04. Bleak
05. Face of Melinda
06. The Night and the Silent Water
07. Windowpane
08. Blackwater Park
09. Demon of the Fall

RATING: 8/10

Long album, short review. OPETH can still do no wrong, and you should buy anything with their name on it. That said, this massive-sounding two-disc live document really doesn't have much reason to exist, given the band's note-perfect renditions of their studio creations. There's nothing wrong at all with the versions of these classic OPETH tracks presented here. But since they sound mostly identical to the already-flawless studio versions, and OPETH is a band not geared toward live improvisation or flights of fancy, it's hard to recommend despite its stellar quality. What an odd situation, perhaps the definition of "for diehards only"… but is there such a thing as a casual OPETH fan?

Of course, for those of you who can't live without Mikael Åkerfeldt's between-song banter — always low-key and droll, sometimes downright embarrassing — this is a nice archive of that. There's a long four minutes toward the end where he introduces the band and peppers his monologue with awful in-jokes and clumsy gags – definitely an area to fast-forward through after the first listen. Other than that, and some nice audience participation at key moments, there's just not much difference between making yourself a mix CD of the album versions and listening to "The Roundhouse Tapes".

But, like I said, it's OPETH, and redundant or not, it's some of the best metal to be released… well… ever. Completists (read: most OPETH fans), this one included, will want it on their shelf, rarely if ever to be played, resting comfortably next to the "please give us nineteen more dollars for the same crap you already bought once" Roadrunner edition of "Ghost Reveries". To its right, of course, is a hopeful little spot reserved for the new studio album — which "The Roundhouse Tapes" just makes our mouth water for all the more. Somehow I think that, and perhaps the tying off of a couple contractual loose ends, was the only point here.

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