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Opeth—Damnation
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Opeth

Damnation

Progressive Rock

3 Stars
Not what you’d expect from a Swedish black metal band.

For Damnation, this well regarded band from Stockholm’s Black Metal scene depart from their trademark aggressive, technical riffing and graveyard vocals and instead embrace the mellower, melodic guitar textures and angelic vocal harmonies that have found their way, in small splashes of faint sunlight amidst the dark shadows, throughout much of their later work.

A lyrical canvas of wistfulness, regret, and faltering faith are painted masterfully in eloquent shades of melodic vocals and delicate layers of harmony. Deftly interwoven sounds of clean electric and acoustic guitars (courtesy of Michael Akerfeldt and Peter Lingren) create a rich tapestry to support Akerfeldt’s vocals and the tasteful, yet yearning lead guitar work of both guitarists. Exceptional drumming throughout courtesy of Martin Lopez (recently no longer with the group) who intricately weaves together Martin Mendez’s hypnotic bass lines with the atmospheric Mellotron and keyboard textures that support the album’s complex mood.

Produced by Steve Wilson, the lush and often complex soundscape is reminiscent of Opeth’s many progressive rock influences, not excluding Wilson’s own band, Porcupine Tree. This has easily become one of my “desert island” albums. Standout tracks include “Hope Leaves” and “Windowpane.”

-MP


 
Pink Floyd Pulse
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Pink Floyd

Pulse

Progressive Rock

4 Stars
The finest Pink Floyd concert performance ever captured.

This two-DVD set finally bestows upon us Pink Floyd’s stellar 1994 performance at London’s Earl’s Court Exhibition Centre, filmed during their Division Bell tour and restored, re-edited, and remixed.

Pulse features not only an outstanding collection of classic Floyd songs, but music from A Momentary Lapse of Reason, The Division Bell, and of course, a full performance of Dark Side of the Moon (in its entirety!) that proves to be the undisputed focal point of the second disc.

Audiophiles will find much to smile about here, as the sound quality is greatly improved from the original VHS release, and the Dolby Digital 5.1 mix gives the illusion of actually being there during those nights in October when this magical event took place. The concert was originally captured on video, but the digital video editing team did an outstanding restoration job, and it was well worth the delay in this title’s release – the concert is presented with very good visual fidelity.

Additional features include two music videos, the original screen films that played during the concert, a photo gallery, some additional bootleg performance footage, and some odds and sods including: a Hall of Fame inductance performance by Gilmour and Wright of “Wish You Were Here” featuring Smashing Pumpkins frontman, Billy Corgan, backing the two on acoustic guitar, and a bit of handheld footage of typical tour antics taken by some of the crew.

Pink Floyd is truly in top form in this concert, and it would be a penultimate video and musical achievement except for the limitations of restoring older video footage to digital, and of course the fact that Roger Waters and the rest of the band had parted company some time ago, thus depriving fans of experiencing the full Pink Floyd line-up at once.

The camera work here is excellent, featuring some new angles and cuts for the DVD edition, and guitarists among us have reason to rejoice since there are many close-ups of Gilmour’s masterful fretwork throughout.

-MP
 
RushReplay X3
Yngwie Johann Malmsteen Artist:

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Rush

Replay X3

Progressive Rock

3 Stars
Three Rush concert classics in one box (plus a bonus) – you need a better reason?

Rush has been on a DVD-release frenzy. Hot on the heels of R30 (which seemed hot on the heels of Rush in Rio) comes Replay X3, a collection of all three classic Rush concert titles transferred to DVD: Exit Stage Left, Grace Under Pressure, and A Show of Hands. Additionally, disc number four is an audio CD containing the previously unreleased Grace Under Pressure Tour Soundtrack.

This incredible package sounds fantastic thanks to newly remixed and remastered audio in Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS formats.

The video quality appears true to the original releases. Exit Stage Left, from 1980, has your typical film grain, video quality improves on the 1984 Grace Under Pressure tour, and 1989’s A Show of Hands looks best. But they all sound superb.

Watching these classic performances reminded me not just of how great Rush sounded back then, but it was a frightening reminder of life in the Eighties! Marvel at Alex’s muscle pants matched to a blazer with shoulder pads (well, ok, not really matched), Neil’s braided mullet, hysterical concert footage featuring Dracula and 3D glasses, and much more.

Additionally, the package includes three great booklets that feature detailed writing (mostly by Neil, of course) related to each of the tours, stories about the equipment they were all playing, and the making of the records which led up to these tours.

Fun for the whole family, provided they all love Rush as much as you and I do.

-SK
 
   
             
             
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