Opeth - _Lamentations - Live at Shepherd's Bush Empire DVD_
(Music for Nations, 2003)
by: Pedro Azevedo (10 out of 10)
The premise: a one-off show where Opeth would play the entirety of their tranquil _Damnation_ followed by a selection of heavier songs from other albums, held at the more than appropriate setting of Shepherd's Bush Empire. Considering the masterful quality of Opeth's back catalogue and their proven ability to perform amazing live renditions of such complex material, I could only expect the very best from this DVD. Indeed, nearly everything that really counts seemed to be going in the right direction: crystalline but powerful sound, outstanding musicianship, fine surroundings and lighting, highly competent camera work and consistently integrated angle changes.

However, one thing was not quite ideal in this DVD: the set list. Perhaps they should have played more of the heavy material rather than the entirety of _Damnation_, but that's debatable. Instead, my gripe with the set list is that it seems to have followed one overwhelming non-musical criteria, surely imposed by their label: Opeth were only allowed to play tracks from their Music for Nations albums. This means their Candlelight albums (_Orchid_, _Morningrise_ and _My Arms, Your Hearse_) as well as Peaceville's _Still Life_ were forbidden territory, and therefore several older classics are conspicuous for their absence. I might be wrong in assuming this, but it seems too much of a coincidence that they would leave out songs like "Demon of the Fall" for any reason other than copyright -- even worse, they had to ignore the audience's enthusiastic chants asking for that particular song, one that they always play.

Nevertheless, it would be unfair to deduct anything from my rating of this DVD just because they didn't play every song I wanted to hear from their discography: that would have been impossible to pack into a single DVD. The heavy tracks selected for the second half of the two hour set are all between very good and excellent (the grin on Akerfeldt's face as he tears into the rapturous final lead of "The Drapery Falls" is priceless), and the mellow ones from _Damnation_ seemed to shine even more in that particular live setting. Sure, they could have probably recorded another DVD full of music worth a 10 out of 10 and not repeat a single track, but that shouldn't make _Lamentations_ any worse. I award _Lamentations_ an amazing 10 out of 10 for the music, while the gig recording is also a just about flawless 10 out of 10.

Looking at the extras, all there is to be found is a very interesting, one hour long documentary about the making of _Deliverance_ and _Damnation_ -- an 8 out of 10 in this department. Packaging and presentation remain simple and competent throughout; no real luxury or great detail, but certainly sober and effective: 7 out of 10.

Scoring full marks in the most important areas, _Lamentations_ is an incredibly solid DVD that every other band will be extremely hard pressed to match. Great atmosphere and superb musicianship, all impeccably captured on DVD -- a mandatory purchase.

Contact: http://www.opeth.com

(article published 30/1/2004)

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