Label:Nuclear Blast Records
I was never a fan of the band and that might help in keeping me in a necessary distance from it, so I can judge it with musical criteria alone and not through my connection with it. Mikael Akerfeldt might seem a bit artsy fartsy as a person, but I respect him as a musical personality – not because his Aphrodite’s Child references fill me with any kind of national pride (unfortunately I heard that as well)-, since he is a restless spirit and a real artist that doesn’t sit still. And some might start complaining upon seeing this release, which is yet again another live recording of the band, but the quality of Garden of the Titans: Live at Red Rocks Ampitheatre is such that it shuts mouths. From the cover that plays with the famous Mount Rushmore (the rock with the faces of U.S. Presidents that was immortalized in rock culture by Deep Purple’s In Rock) and the uniqueness of Red Rocks Amphitheatre to the selection of the songs, everything seem perfect and maybe they are! Their almost 90-minute set starts with “Sorceress” from the 2016 self-titled album. The direction after Watershed might be less extreme and less rock in favour of 70’s prog, but it doesn’t hold back in regard to dynamics. Especially when the live renditions of these songs (“Demon Of The Fall”, “Era”) connect like the burbling water of a river into an ocean of melodies perfectly executed (regardless of the obvious small mistakes) through connecting links like “The Ghost Of Perdiiton” from Ghost Reveries (2005) giving the final result a consistency that only great bands achieve. In this upgraded performance, Svalberg’s second vocals and keyboards – that being a bit in the front give a sense of greatness to the songs – play a very important role. Through “Ghost Of Perdition”, “Demon Of The Fall” and “The Wilde Flowers” (from the old ones) we end up in an epic 14-minute closing and the self-titled song from 2002’s Deliverance. If Live Concert At Royal Albert Hall (2010) played the informal role of a best-of, here we have a successful marriage of the band’s past with what might be its future.