Opeth – Deliverance Review

Ty Brookman’s take:

Ah Opeth, a band that truly walks on the water of all that signifies pure metal. This particular statement may be a bit extreme but you can’t argue that Opeth is highly regarded throughout the metal community as monsters of creation and harsh criticism is rarely found and rightfully so because Opeth is one of the rare bands that always delivers an album of intrigue.

With what is easily explained as signature sound, the mighty Opeth smack around chord progressions so vast and emotionally dark your mood has no choice but to mold with every nuance that is created, quickly rendering you helpless to the doomed world that Opeth resides within. Enlightened is never a word to toss around after listening to Opeth but on the same accord depression wouldn’t sum it up either. Somewhere within the delicate mix of emotions lies the counterbalance of inscrutability of stature so hauntingly apparent it slaps you in the face before you even know you were bludgeoned.

The absolute definitive pioneers of Progressive Death Metal Opeth step up to the plate with their latest offering of Deliverance. Deliverance clocks in at just under 62 minutes possessing a mere six songs to absorb. In essence this album is not for the weak of mind stricken with short attention span syndrome, five of the six songs break the ten minute mark but within each of the epic tunes Opeth manage to keep the listener on a short rope of distraction.

With what very well may be conceived as Opeth’s heaviest effort to date, Deliverance single handily symbolizes everything that is right in the world of metal. The absolute beauty of this album is that the more time you spend with it the more it sinks in that the ragged grip of trickery mocks the listener into thinking they have inhaled every ounce of the experience only to be blindsided with the subtleties that only awaken after countless listens. In true form, Opeth monopolizes on all the attributes that make this band so special, with oddly developed time signatures and frantic chord inlays of precision to the sheer beauty of the crystal clean breakdowns. Make no mistake, this is Opeth doing what they do best.

I think the ultimate award for stand out player this time falls onto the drumming of Martin Lopez. Whereas he has never been a slouch in the past he showcases what a superior drumming style he has developed with Deliverance. Amongst all my listens Lopez’s beats always seem to remain in the forefront of each one. With bone crusher tunes such as opener Wreath and track 5 Master’s Apprentices (How fitting) Lopez shreds double bass and merciless symbol work that just seems to stand high above the overall songs themselves.

Mikael Åkerfeldt, genius extraordinaire brings down the pain with monstrous death vocals which have to be a byproduct of his work with Bloodbath. I think he actually made an extra effort to come across so menacing. As always his clean vocals are dead on and I can easily say that Åkerfeldt’s clean side of the universe are some of the best vocals in the business. Most notably proven on track four, Fair Judgment, a song that embodies such pure exquisiteness and emotional overload at times it can be downright overwhelming. I truly look forward to part two of the Opeth legacy when the self proclaimed “Mellow” album entitled Damnation is released.

Bottom line: Deliverance offers up something for everyone whether it is the cynical musician or the average listener this album will not disappoint either. These are schooled musicians who know how to write music that provokes poignant harmony within, all the while stirring your emotions into a frenzied meltdown. Even though Deliverance is an absolute significant release and there is not one reason in this god forsaken world why you should not buy it, I could not bring myself to rank it a masterpiece. As you have read I do regard Opeth as phenomenal musicians but their work within Deliverance is basically the same old Opeth. (Which isn’t a bad thing, dammit) I do not think they have actually matured as much as they have remained the same. I love the album but it doesn’t spell out progression and a band of this caliber should have only the expectations of topping their last release each and every time.

Ryan Plunkett’s take:

OPETH. That name is synonymous with some of the best metal out there today. Can anyone really deny this? I think not. Even if you don’t like this band, you would still have to admit they are just utterly amazing. From their haunting debut with Orchid in 1995 to their last masterpiece, Blackwater Park, in 2001 you could just tell by listening to this band that they were something special. I can honestly say I’ve never heard a band quite like Opeth. They are able to blend brutal metal, with the most serene clean breaks. This band can do no wrong. I find it impossible to discover problems within their music at all. They can write a fifteen minute song and make it feel like seconds as you lose yourself in the atmosphere presented in their music. Whether you realize it on your first listen or after ten listens, Opeth is able to write some of the most amazing music you will ever hear. Every note seems perfectly placed, every beat right on, and every verse holds the perfect emotion. Opeth demands your full attention from the first second of the album to the last; and despite the fact that you submit you’ll still pick out something in the music you missed; five, ten, or fifteen listens later.

And so the Opeth legacy leads us into the year 2002. Almost a year after the release of Blackwater Park, they return with their latest outing entitled Deliverance. After Opeth’s previous albums gaining so much recognition you can’t help but wonder when this band will finally fall flat on its face. Needless to say, I think we’ll be waiting for awhile.

Deliverance had a lot of expectations to live up to. I can’t speak for anyone else, but it met and exceeded mine. Last year with Blackwater Park, I wasn’t as impressed as I have been in the past. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t found an Opeth album yet that I wouldn’t call a masterpiece in its own right, but it just lacked something for me personally. Deliverance, on the other hand, delivers, no pun intended.

Unlike most Opeth albums where the music builds up for about 30 seconds, this one hits you right off the bat with the first track, “Wreath”. The thing that became more apparent in my first couple of listens with this album is the fact that Martin Lopez’s drumming is tighter than ever, and really powerful. He has some thunderous double kicks that can be found in “Deliverance” and “Master’s Apprentices”, not to mention what appears to be bongos about half way into the song “Wreath”. I’m not totally sure if they’re bongos since I’m not a drum expert, but whatever they are, it definitely sounds like he’s using his hands to hit them.

Martin Mendez’s bass work is nothing less than superb as always. He’s easily one of my favorite bassists out in the world of metal today. Peter and Mikeal continue to never let you down with their powerful riffs and beautiful acoustic interludes. Their guitar work is always so smooth and flows perfectly it’s always a treat to listen to. This time around they’ve thrown out some of the most brutal riffs I’ve heard in any of Opeth’s work. One of my favorite riffs comes at the end of the second song, “Deliverance”. The riff is played for the last two or three minutes of the song, but never loses its edge.

One other thing that jumped out at me right away was this is one of Mikeal’s strongest vokill performances yet. I think he’s really outdone himself with the clean vokills this time. I don’t think I have enjoyed his clean vokills (which were always astounding in the past) as much as I did with Deliverance. In the third track, “A Fair Judgment”, his clean vokill performance really shines through. The song seems so easy-going and laid back. I can’t quite put my finger on why, but this song always gives me that tingly feeling whenever I listen to it. It’s also perfectly accented by the instrumental “For Absent Friends”, which leads you perfectly into the ultra brutal track, “Master’s Apprentices”. As I mentioned above this song contains some thunderous double kicks. The beginning riff in this is really slow moving, yet always heavy. “By the Pain I See in Others” is the perfect way to end the album. It slowly leaves you begging for more, yet never unfulfilled. The song ends with some haunting clean vokill tracks from Mikeal and leads me to wonder: “Is this a prelude to their forthcoming work, Damnation?” Maybe I’m looking into it too much, or maybe I’m already getting too giddy about hearing the album and wondering what it will sound like; I don’t know. What I do know is I love this album.

The production sounds similar to Blackwater Park in that it is perfect in every way; I can find absolutely no flaws in it. The lyrics are, as always, beautifully written. That’s another aspect I’ve always enjoyed about Opeth, is the fact that they always have well written lyrics, which are conveyed perfectly by Mikeal’s amazing vokill work.

This album isn’t Opeth’s best in my opinion, and I can say that after about 20 listens or so. I still have to revert back to Morningrise for that title. This album falls just shy of Still Life which is my second best pick from Opeth’s collection. I feel it’s definitely better than Blackwater Park, but you know what, it doesn’t matter. This album is a masterpiece all its own. There will always be a debate as to which Opeth is the best, since they are all THAT good; this just adds another choice to argue about.

This will easily trounce into my top six picks of 2002 here at MetalReview; there is no doubt in my mind about that. I now leave you with two things: 1. If you do not yet own this album, you must obtain it as soon as possible. You will not be disappointed. 2. If you already own this album, I feel honored that you would read my dissection, but why do that when you could be listening to one of the best, if not the best release of the year?

Russ Wallin’s take:

If you put Opeth in with 100 other bands, whether it be in your CD player at home or at some huge metal fest, they would undoubtedly stand out amongst all the other 99 bands. They are possibly the most musical and dynamic band out there.

Those of you who are familiar with Opeth know what to expect from from such a fantastic group of musicians. Let me say, Opeth fans will not be disappointed. Those of you unfamiliar with Opeth will simply be amazed at the depth and talent this band has.

A drum fill opens the album and leads us into a heavy and fast double-bass riff. The first thing I noticed was how clear, focused and powerful the drums sounded. You really can’t ask for a better drum sound or better drumming. The fast double-bass sections just kick your ass. This may very well be the best drumming on an Opeth album yet.

The vocals are incredible. The first vocals we hear are extremely heavy and stand out better than on any Opeth album to date. Eventually the vocals alter to the mellow and melodic, helping give Opeth that trademark sound. The vocals are as dynamic as possible, ranging from the gutteral to the tranquil. Backing vocals offer the perfect blend of harmony and emotion. Again, probably the best vocals yet on an Opeth album. I wasn’t able to decipher all the lyrics, but they seemed well thought out and deeply powerful.

The guitars and bass are also amazing. Amazing riffs, melodies and leads! There’s really nothing to complain about on this album. The guitar tone is powerful and precise. Opeth offers some of the best riffs to ever grace metal music. The album production is excellent as well. Very clear and balanced. I especially like the intelligent use of overdubbing on this album. Whether it be backing harmonies or melodies, or the use of varying the sound on an instrument for certain passages. It sets sections apart from one another and helps compliment the dynamic that Opeth has. Opeth is the result of excellent, and dynamic, musicanship combined with amazing song writting ability and an unothadox approach to music. Opeth has once again offered a supreme album to the masses! “Deliverance” gets my vote for album of the year. Go out and buy this album!

Gregory Bradley’s take:

Deliverance was my first ever experience with Opeth. I must say, when I first heard the album, I wasn’t impressed. I heard some good riffs, some cool vocals, and some nice change-ups, but nothing about it really caught my attention. It was only because of the other Prophets’ obsession with Opeth that I continued to listen to try and find what the big deal was.

Every time you listen to this album, you find something new that you didn’t hear before. The songs are too long to memorize immediately, so as you are listening to it the second, third, fourth, or even tenth time, you still get surprised by something. This album has incredible depth to it, the different vox are amazing, and the song writing is impeccable. It consumed my every waking moment in a vortex of deathprog bliss.

The thing that will really keep you coming back for more is the variety brought forth by every song. There are fast parts, slow parts, and heavy parts in every song, and in no particular order. It seems as if they are randomly throwing these different parts together for each particular song, but in a way that still has structure and a definite blueprint behind it. You know that they didn’t just start writing the song and say, “oh, that would be cool here”, you just get the feeling that they have a distinct battle plan for every song, yet they manage to not sound tired and over-structured. You can completely lose yourself for the hour or so that the album runs. Six tracks, one hour. I love it.

All of the tracks are somewhat similar in that they have the mix of death metal and an almost progressive sound, but the one track that is completely different is the fourth track, an instrumental clocking in at 2 minutes and 16 seconds. It has a sad, reminiscent sound, so as I was hearing it I was thinking about friends that I live far away from, and I got sort of sentimental, wanting them to be closer. Since I was still unfamiliar with the album, I went back to check the song title and it said “For Absent Friends”. That completely blew me away, the fact that Opeth can make you think exactly what they intended through music alone is absolutely awe-inspiring. The vocals only add to this experience, so on the non-instrumental tracks, be prepared to be blown away. There is one point in “A Fair Judgement” at a time when Mikael Åkerfeldt is singing cleanly, his voice sort of quivers at a really emotional part. The emotion involved in the album is what sets it apart from the rest of the crowd. Opeth is definitely a band which requires you to listen more than a few times to get the full impact of the music.

With repeated listens, I was completely hooked on Deliverance. Since I am new to Opeth, I can’t compare it to their other albums, but I think it is safe to say that this is one of the best. Anyone with an attention span of more than 45 seconds will enjoy the hell out of this album. I would compare myself to a dried sponge when first listening to Opeth, I tried to take it in all at once, and it just rolled off of me. However, with repeated immersions in the glory that is Deliverance, I was able to become saturated with the power, and after a while I was completely immersed. Do as I did the second time and you will not regret it.

Posted by Old Guard

The retired elite of LastRites/MetalReview.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.