Opeth’s double album, The Roundhouse Tapes, contains several passages in which guitars wend through numinous melodies, isolated from other instruments and unsullied by crowd noise. During such moments, particularly the forlorn, crystalline “Under the Weeping Moon” solos, listeners might forget they’re listening to a concert recording, an impressive testament to Opeth’s ability to transcend setting. Just as compelling, however, are the reminders that Roundhouse captures an actual performance (London, Nov. 9, 2006): The ecstatic screams of anticipatory fans before “Face of Melinda” and “Blackwater Park” erupting after minutes of tantalizing crescendo; the enthusiastic, if occasionally arrhythmic, audience clap-alongs during acoustic forest-folk interludes; frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt’s copious stage banter.
Ranging from DVD commentary–style illuminations (Åkerfeldt divulges that he wrote “Night and the Silent Water” with the lute in mind), to self-described “rock-star moves” (a meet-the-band bit set to a porno-funk vamp, culminating in his introduction of himself as “Bubba Smith”), Åkerfeldt’s chatter exposes him as charismatic and relatively jovial. This revelation shatters the misconception that Opeth’s members are mystical harbingers of prog-metal darkness, but it’s worth a little disenchantment to glimpse relatable humanity in a genre known for gloomy detachment.
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