Sound — 10
Finally after 5 months of recording the thing, Opeth have released the footage of their fantastic concert at the Royal Albert Hall in this 5 disc DVD set. As a fan of their music and an attendee at said performance, I just had to buy it ASAP which I did: Pre-ordered on the 27th of August. When it came, I just played the entire DVD section alone to myself for 4 hours. And again. Infact I think I've played it about 4 times since Saturday. As an experience, seeing one of the biggest bands in the metal scene playing in such a place as the RAH was inspiring. On DVD format, I can watch the experience and relive it all over again and again. The live performance was spectacular (use my review from the actual concert on this site as reference) with every single song played to perfection. Classics such as 'April Ethereal' and 'The Moor' have never sounded so well made. Infact, the sound quality itself is so good, I'd choose the live version over the studio version for normal listening (which is good, because the box comes with the live tracks on CD's as well). Everything that happened that night is captured with not a single second of sound cut out nor the breaks between songs left out. Its a perfect capture of that magical night, including every flaw and misshap (such as Mikael's and Frederik's guitars cutting out, twice for Mikael) which now has made me reconsider buying PRS. Although the playing was tight, there was a degree of improvisation going on, instead of using accoustic guitars like on the studio albums, Frederik and Mikael chose to use clean channels and flangers to create a somewhat softer and almost serene sound while everyone just stood/sat in silence and took it all in and in 'Hope Leaves', Fred and Mike took turns for some nice soloing instead of the traditional outro for the song.
Content — 10
The set list of the night was a good one indeed, the band (as mentioned in my review of the actual concert which probably should be used as a reference) played the entirity of Blackwater Park followed by a song from each album in chronological order. On the DVD, both halves were split onto 2 discs (Titled Observation 1 and 2 respectively) with bonus features. Disc 1: 01. The Leper Affinity 02. Bleak 03. Harvest 04. The Drapery Falls 05. Dirge for November 06. The Funeral Portrait 07. Patterns In The Ivy 08. Blackwater Park with a 40 minute interview of Mikael Akerfeldt at the end with the questions being provided by fans instead of the 20 minute break between 'observations'. Disc 2: 01. Forest of October 02. Advent 03. April Ethereal 04. The Moor 05. Wreath 06. Hope Leaves 07. Harlequin Forst 08. The Lotus Eater at the end in the special features section contains a 45 minute tour documentary with the band in between gigs for their Evolution XX tour from Sweden to Germany to London etc. The setlist is probably the best that could've been chosen. As well as performing what most would consider their best album and the songs that are considered Opeth classics and fan favourites, it won the crowd over entirely. As mentioned before, the DVD case came with 2 DVD discs of the actual concert and 3 CD's of the live tracks (as songs alone) which is all that would be needed for the perfect live DVD package (when you also take into consideration just how long those songs are). If their are any Easter Eggs, I wouldn't be able to tell you.
Production Quality — 8
Its an old thing to say that a band sounds better live than in the studio which is rarely the case these days. But Opeth have an entirely different presence from the studio when they play live and both aspects of the band are brilliant. Listening to the live version of Blackwater Park is a different experience from listening to the studio version even though both are played to perfection by the band. With new equipment and PA systems being able to record sound better, its no wonder that an increasing number of bands from the 90's are releasing live DVD's. Immortal for example just released 'The 7th date of Blashyrkh' and to my mind, its better than any studio release they've ever done, purely because of the sound quality and although its not really the same case with Opeth, they still sound better on stage.
Overall Impression — 9
As a band, Opeth are generally uncomparable. Apart from one obscure band from Brighton (Stone Circle, check them out) who sound very similar, Opeth have a monopoly of their undefinable genre. As a purchase for any Opeth fan or fan-to-be, its definitly worth every bit of money. The DVD itself in its entirity is by far one of the most impressive things I've heard. Its a pretty organic thing too, taking a good look at the band thats been through a long, almost grueling career with numerous linups and being financially crippled in the early days. Although 4 and a half hours (excluding the CD's) is a bit demanding for a DVD, its rewarding as well in turn. There's not much else to say but to buy it.