Sound: At the pinnacle of their immense run of touring, Opeth played a few shows in the UK that contained material spanning the bands entire career, from 1995's 'Orchid' to 'Ghost Reveries', released ten years on. The date chosen for this live recording was the Camden Roundhouse show in London, on November 9th 2006. The setlist is certainly a crowd pleasing one. Their previous live release, 'Lamentations' focused entirely on the 'Damnation', 'Deliverance' and 'Blackwater Park' albums, however this time, save 'Deliverance' there is at least a track from every Opeth album to date.
The announcement of this release got a lot of people excited as it's a chance to hear some much older Opeth material with the added texture of keyboardist Per Wiberg. I must say, he adds a lot to tracks like 'Under The Weeping Moon' and 'The Night And The Silent' with atmosphere that was sometimes missing from those first two records. Aside from that, everybody is on top form, not a mistake made all night. New drummer Martin 'Axe' Axenrot has had a lot to prove after the departure of the greatly loved Martin Lopez, however his critics will be silenced after his first recorded release with Opeth. He performs every part perfectly and I expect that his contribution to new material will be just as strong as his contribution to their live show.
As this is a live album, it will be mostly Opeth fans that purchase it so the quality of the music itself is not really worth discussing but the setlist features some of the bands best songs, including 'When', 'Bleak', 'Face Of Melinda' and of course the classic 'Demon Of The Fall'. The recording quality is top notch and the only minor complaint I have with the recording is the guitar tone on a couple of tracks, but of course that's more personal preference than anything and it certainly shouldn't stop anyone from giving this a listen. // 10
Lyrics: I feel that Opeth's lyrics have improved over time and so the quality of the lyrics on 'The Roundhouse Tapes' vary. Of course the lyrics are generally good but there are certainly some tracks with more professional and meaningful lyrics than others. Hell, Mikael kerfeldt himself said the lyrics to 'Under The Weeping Moon' were a load of black metal nonsense. Anyway, there's nothing new to talk about lyrically, but Opeth's lyrics are generally poetic, well written and will always accompany the mood of the music well. // 8
Overall Impression: Live albums aren't normally all that important to a band's fans (with exceptions being bands like Iron Maiden who are famous for their live show) but 'The Roundhouse Tapes' is certainly a very good release. I suppose it could be considered a good introduction to Opeth as the album covers all of their sounds over the years and the high quality of the recording doesn't take away anything from the excellently engineered studio albums. However, most people that do buy this will be existing Opeth fans and while it is certainly interesting to listen to and hard to fault, the coming release of the show on DVD will put a lot of people off buying this, instead opting for the DVD. I can't blame them, and I'd certainly recommend purchasing their studio works first but this is a quality live album and worth a purchase from any big Opeth fan. // 9