Opeth Lamentations: Live at Shepherd's Bush Empire 2003

Lamentations is the visual answer to Opeth's Deliverance and Damnation albums, combining both the brutal and the serene in one performance. Filmed in London, UK, the concert is well-shot, capturing the band's magic on stage, giving fair attention to each element of that spell and conveying just enough of the audience's energy and enthusiasm to give the event its due weight. The songs are divided into two sets — first the soft, then the heavy — and Opeth perform well, having completed tours for both albums by this time. Mikael Åkerfeldt seems a shy front-man, with his quiet-voiced commentary best-suited to the mellow Damnation set and not carrying far beyond the stage. His dialogue with the audience is minimal and a little awkward, totally unlike the typical death metal between-song shouts. This is an odd contradiction that seems characteristic of the band as a whole. But the audience screams at all the right moments, and when Åkerfeldt opens his mouth to let out that beautiful growl, he's metal through and through. Damnation appears here in its entirety, with "Harvest" included in the first half as well. Sadly, especially for long-time fans, the set list goes no further back than Blackwater Park, and it's hard not to wish for a second disc featuring an additional show of old classics. This DVD offers little in the way of extras, but the 65-minute "making of" documentary provides some good viewing, with in-the-studio footage and interview clips of all four band members as well as producer Steven Wilson. The key thing here though is the documentation of a rare moment in a death metal band's career — Opeth's sidestep into soft territory. (Music for Nations/Koch)