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Opeth: Deliverance

What would happen of Porcupine Tree''s Steven Wilson and Death's (late) Chuck Schuldiner were to merge? If you were to add in Mikael Åkerfeldt's love of Black Sabbath, '70s prog pioneers Camel, and the rare Scandinavian space rock vinyl LPs he collects, you'd get Opeth. Heavy as hell yet with an almost Floydian elegance and with progressive rock's complexities - and with equal appeal among the progheads and the headbangers.

"A Fair Judgement" starts with elegantly simple piano work courtesy of Porcupine Tree's Steven Wilson, who has now produced three Opeth records, and is the only song without any death-style grunting at all. In fact, you could easily pass that song off as a Porcupine Tree track. But full credit goes to Opeth themselves, who remain true to their extremely sophisticated brand of death metal - heavy as hell in parts, then transitioning seamlessly into mellow symphonic prog, and back again.

Two albums were recorded in the same studios, at the same time, under the same producer (Wilson) - and the tracks were divided into heavy and mellow. Swedish Grammy winning Deliverance is the heavy record, while the wonderful Damnation was Opeth's first foray into all-symphonic progressive rock, and demonstrated the band's impressive musicianship.

Deliverance has often been called Opeth's heaviest effort to date - but you'd be advised to take that with a pinch of salt. Yes, the opening track is extremely heavy and the first half is clearly based on the accepted standard death-metal format - right down to the chord sequence. And yes, there's proportionally more of the heavy and less of the mellow stuff here. But the heavy isn't really any heavier - there's just more of it.

The drumming on this album is out of the top drawer, and the tightly coupled dual guitar work of Mikael Åkerfeldt and Peter Lindgren is an absolute pleasure. With 5 of the 6 songs running longer than 10 minutes, there's plenty of opportunity for involved song structures and sophisticated interplay between the instruments, tempo shifts, key and meter changes, and a powerful tantric swell / release / swell that will draw you into this record's magic. At the time it was released this may have been the most complex Opeth album to date, eclipsing even the brilliant genre-defining Still Life. And at the same time, the band seems to have built more emotion into this music than in any prior efforts (listen to the outro to the title track). The expressive grunting comes straight from the bowels of Satan, and the clean vocals stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the best in the business - soft and melancholy, and the haunting intelligent lyrics are perfectly delivered.

Deliverance is brutal yet beautiful, deathly yet angelic, and its heaviness is a perfect foil for its mellow sister-CD, Damnation. Get them both. Listen to them together,

Track Listing:
1. Wreath
2. Deliverance
3. A Fair Judgement
4. For Absent Friend
5. Master's Apprentices
6. By The Pain I See In Others

Added: August 1st 2006
Reviewer: Duncan Glenday
Related Link: Opeth's Web Site
Hits: 5746
Language: english

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» Reader Comments:

Opeth: Deliverance
Posted by Hugh Dark on 2007-02-27 14:36:32
My Score:

This is not as good as their previous work, but not much ever will. On this cd they scaled it down a bit and made a much darker release. Martin's drumming is his very best and adds greatly to the dimension of the songwriting. An absolute pleasure to listen to as every song scores big points. Opeth are a very consistent band at this point and proved that even more on Ghost Reveries. If you don't have this one, go out and get it without any hesitation. The biggest change here is that they are sounding a little jazzier and have scaled down the production attributes, but still killer none the less.

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