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It was Jonas Renkse of Katatonia who first proposed the idea of a double album for Opeth’s next endeavor. They had just completed magnum opus Blackwater Park, and guitarist Mikael Åkerfeldt was eager to get to his next project. While initially wanting to write something heavier than previous releases, he also had an abundance of mellower, jazzier material that he didn’t want to go to waste. Excited at the prospect of a double album, Åkerfeldt had to bend the truth to the record label to get his project the green light. The idea was to make an album of light progressive rock and one comprised of heavier material, the heaviest they had ever done. Riding on the success of their previous four masterpieces, this sounded like it had the potential to be their most accomplished and inspired project yet. What resulted was a recording process so disorganized and stressful that the band members almost quit music entirely. In the end, it was decided that both albums would be released five months apart. Deliverance would be darker and heavier, while Damnation would be a mellow prog rock affair. Two sides of the same coin, both complement each other and expertly display the opposing personalities of Opeth’s sound while acting as a departure from the layered musical stylings of previous efforts.
The most immediately impressive aspect of Deliverance is the drumming of Martin Lopez. Despite Opeth scaling back the diversity and ambition of past releases, Lopez manages to go all out in speed and ferocity while avoiding dominating the spotlight. A tumbling drum roll kicks off album opener “Wreath” into a bewilderingly fast metal number containing furious metal riffing over pounding drums and dissonant interludes. Gone are the doomy soundscapes and jazzy influences of previous releases. Deliverance is all about the speed and the metal, but it wouldn’t be Opeth without the lighter sections. “Master’s Apprentices” contains a beautifully pensive middle section with melodic guitar taking the spotlight alongside Åkerfeldt’s melodic singing. The middle section of “Deliverance” is similar, making use of drummer Lopez’s loose drumming style and off kilter beats before exploding into a shredding guitar solo section similar to “Wreath.” Among the most profound and emotive moments of Deliverance is the unsettling quiet section right before the crushingly heavy outro. Twin acoustic guitars strum riffs and chords, playing off of each other over more of Lopez’s fill-heavy drumming. Åkerfeldt gives one of his most menacingly subtle vocal performances, softly delivering the lines “Deliverance, thrown back at me. Deliverance, laughing at me.” It’s a perfect display of Opeth once again conveying emotion and grabbing the listener’s attention by taking a sharp departure from what was expected.
Lyrical themes largely revolve around loss, regret, and death. Epic ballad “A Fair Judgement” includes dissonant guitar chords and leads with heartbreaking prose and imagery, “Losing sleep, in too deep. Fading sun, what have I done? Came so close, to what I need most, nothing's left here. Cut the ties, uncover disguise… Soul sacrifice, forgot the advice. Lost track of time, in a flurry of smoke. Waiting anxiety, for a fair judgement deserved.” After a quiet vocal and piano duet with Åkerfeldt heartbreakingly crooning of redemption and regret, Opeth once again pull the rug from under the listener with one of the heaviest and most dissonant outros of the album. A beautiful interplay of acoustic and electric guitar follows in the form of “For Absent Friends.” The short but sweet ballad serves as a much needed reprieve from the more intense, discordant moments of before.
What ultimately makes Deliverance such a success is the interplay of different musical stylings and dynamics in a more concise fashion. Never before have Opeth’s flirtations with light and dark played off each so successfully and consistently. The light section of “Masters Apprentices” becomes an album highlight when sandwiched between the death metal intro and crushingly heavy finale. The diversity and relentless tonal shifts of past releases are refined into a calculated and straightforward dichotomy of beautiful melodies interplaying with brutal heaviness. As a result, the songwriting is more digestible and gripping overall. The title track and “Masters Apprentices” contain enough twists and turns to keep the listener interested, while straightforward metal numbers like “Wreath” and “By The Pain I See In Others” exhaust every trick Åkerfeldt and co. have up their sleeves to keep the 10+ minute epics interesting. Not a single moment is wasted in the whole hour, and by the time the final piano note of “By The Pain…” fades into silence, you will be floored by the truly exhausting listen, containing elements of light, dark, and everything in between.
I think that any fan of Opeth should easily be able to choose a favourite album by the band. I know that they have a similar style throughout their career, with some gradual changes, but there is also a distinct "feel" to each album that stands out when lined up shoulder to shoulder with the others. This may have something to do with Opeth's frequent use of concepts or themes that tie their albums together, since I identify 'Still Life' as the tragic album, 'Orchid' as the outdoor nature album, and 'Ghost Reveries' as the memories album, for example. It's for this reason that 'Deliverance' certainly isn't my favourite Opeth album, because I can't identify any thread running through the songs on it. Maybe, going by the lyrics and artwork, there's a kind of haunted or guilty presence at work, though that doesn't come across distinctly when I listen to the whole thing.
What I can say, though, is that 'Deliverance' becomes impenetrable as a result of its ambiguity. Opeth riffs and song structures traditionally twist and turn as if attempting to shake off imitators; however, most of the songs here are almost maze-like in their difficulty and hallucinatory in their switches of direction, so that the listening experience is disorienting and occasionally uncomfortable. I didn't especially notice it until I started to write this review, but I realise now that I don't know 'Deliverance' very well despite having owned it for several years and listened to it frequently. I recognise the music, I can even sing some of the lyrics, but I can't really remember what happens next - the album has remained unpredictable. Maybe this is just my problem? The whole thing plays out like a dream, where some things strike me as intensely familiar yet altogether strange.
Certainly, the first three songs are the best on the album. 'Wreath' sets out the band's stall with some signature riffs - the one that spirals and judders, then the one that ascends and elevates - that are uncanny in many ways, as if this song were the blueprint that the group had built every other song from. It isn't until almost 10 minutes in that the first acoustic break crops up, which is perhaps what lends these songs their apparent complexity and labyrinthine nature. The supposed purpose of 'Deliverance' was to be an album showcasing the heavier aspects of Opeth's sound (whereas 'Damnation' showed the lighter parts), so the lack of acoustic and folk influence makes sense; however, it also means that the album has ended up far, far denser than any other Opeth release, because the regular acoustic interludes usually make the music feel airy and open, whereas a song like 'Wreath' remains oppressive and claustrophobic almost from start to finish. The title track is similarly stifling, with the exception of its gently soaring refrain. The soloing on the first two tracks is extremely aggressive for Opeth and lightens the mood not a jot, actually crushing down on the listener all the more, especially when the ultra-emphasised phrygian solo is whipped out after 4 minutes of the title track.
The concluding 'Master's Apprentices' and 'By the Pain I See in Others' follow a similar technique to the claustrophobic beginning, but the middle of the album bears a different mark. 'A Fair Judgement' is a far frailer song, incredibly spacious in its first half, as sparse piano verses tease out Mikael Akerfeldt's most delicate vocals of the album and a circling minor chord riff bridges the gap between them. The second half is given over to delightfully picturesque melodic soloing and a hulking doom riff that brings the door to freedom crashing closed. 'For Absent Friends' is a short instrumental, which - though by no means bad - could have been omitted to enhance the atmospheric quality of the haunted house/summer garden/haunted house structure of the album.
I don't have a great to deal to say about the instrumentalists that I haven't already mentioned. I believe that Akerfeldt was working very hard when the band made this album (they were recording 'Deliverance' and 'Damnation' simultaneously) and had to deal with almost all of the songwriting himself. It certainly shows, since there is a more consistent sound here than on any other single Opeth album, with three or four main types of riff, a very broad and flat-edged guitar tone, and few lead melodies or interludes, though a fair smattering of solos. The drums are similarly blunt and aggressive, Martin Lopez occasionally being able to expand into a more conventional death metal style, such as on the staccato riffs of the closing track, although his role is probably the most flexible on the album. Bass presence is minor, yet pops up to add eerie texture to some of the slower parts, like the end of 'A Fair Judgement'. Akerfeldt's vocals are, regrettably, not as good as one might expect, with little variation or additional emotion.
My comments on 'Deliverance' might seem decidedly mixed, but for all that I claim about the weird and disorienting nature of its songs, it's a great album and free of some of the cliches and stop-start troubles that plague a few of the other releases. I still don't think it's my favourite Opeth release, though it's a consistently surprising album, and can you really beat that?
Life it seems is full of so many inevitabilities. Nature itself, though constantly changing in appearance is always subject to its own series of predictable guidelines. The Earth continues in its endless orbit around the sun, the seasons forever come and go due to the minute angle in its axis, and it seems so too will Opeth continue their irritating trend of following an album of adequate quality with a show of uninspired, painfully insipid songwriting. Though far from a shocking outcome, being the third time in a row this turbulent cycle has completed itself, with this particular transition comes one of the greatest plummets in quality between releases in the band’s history. As the final lyrics of the previous album so appropriately allude, the sun sets forever over Blackwater Park, and so descends upon the land the eternal, pitch-black night of torment and suffering that is Deliverance.
While ceaseless repetition of ideas and overlong displays of monotony are not out of place for this band on other records, this is the one that goes beyond simply being boring and genuinely pisses me off. As was the case with Morningrise, the song lengths have been stretched to absurd proportions, but rather than experimenting with versatile arrangements and trying to jam a myriad of different ideas together, this album follows the more recently established benchmark of taking 4 minutes worth of ideas and using them to fill up more than 10 minutes. This practice, while already annoying and reeking of pretension when employed elsewhere, is taken to a new extreme all throughout, with several sections (particularly in the first few tracks) bordering on a reasonable alternative to hypnosis. The result of it all is more or less what I imagine Still Life would have amounted to, were it not for a couple of well-concealed aces pushed to the tail-end of said album. Even the poorly-arranged, outrageously lengthy compositions on the band’s aforementioned sophomore flop at least attempted some variety as they progressed, a stark contrast to the near one-dimensional qualities exemplified here.
Often being lauded by fans as Opeth’s heaviest release to date, one could very well mistake this at face value for a promising indication of the album’s nature. Sadly, My Arms, Your Hearse this is not, the up-front, largely distortion-driven approach only serving to create a noticeable deficit in the dynamics department. More laughable still is how the band often attempts to fool the listener into believing they are playing at breakneck speed. Double-bass drumming is utilized extensively to create the illusion of an active rhythm, primarily within the title-track and “Master’s Apprentices”, but ultimately seems only to be there to compensate for the dull guitar lines and give the songs their sole semblance of energy. I seem to recall “Demon of the Fall” being far heavier and more aggressive than the majority of tracks on here, and roughly half the length at that. Even on the occasions where things actually do kick into high gear, very rarely do the songs spend sufficient time on said segments before tapering off into drudging mid-tempo land. Opener “Wreath” begins promisingly enough with some blazing riffing, the biggest false first impression of this album one could imagine. Before even two minutes have passed however, the song descends into what could very well be “Dirge for November Pt. 2”, and spends nearly the rest of its 9 minutes dragging the vigor established by the energetic intro through the mud. Even the softer material, represented here by “A Fair Judgment” bears more in common with “Face of Melinda” than this outfit’s better ballads, and while being slightly better realized than its relative, still comes across as largely by-the-numbers and lacking significant distinguishing instrumental features.
High points are few and typically reserved to the end of the album, however are rather satisfying when they do arise. “Master’s Apprentices”, despite mostly going nowhere for the first three-quarters of its duration, by the end picks up into some admittedly catchy and up-tempo rhythm guitar work leading to its final fade-out. Similarly, closing track “By the Pain I See in Others”, the only full song coming anywhere close to solid stature, finally breaks the trend of all-encompassing dreariness and begins perfectly emulating some of the band’s latent melodic-death tendencies of years gone by. A refreshing change of pace though it may be, complete with some of the band’s most spirited riffing this side of “White Cluster” and an eerie keyboard bridge, there is no salvaging what remains of this long sunken shipwreck, crushed under the pressure of its own ambition. That the throwaway acoustic interlude is the next best track featured is testament enough to the horrid caliber of the music contained here.
Perhaps fans of doom metal or other minimalist/atmospheric subgenres will get better mileage out of this release than I, but those looking for a compelling slab of head-banging material are advised to steer clear. Scarce fast segments, some brief instances of interesting lead guitar work and Akerfeldt’s trademark vocal prowess are simply not enough to justify giving anything outside the final track a second glance. Just as Opeth seem content to repeat themselves time and again, so too am I compelled to fall back on what seems to be the tried-and-true description befitting every even-numbered release to this point: Just about everything here was done better a year ago, so don’t even bother. Though even the most die-hard of fans would eventually point to the band’s recent failed attempt at flirting with 70’s progressive rock as their lowest point, when it comes to penning an unambiguous death metal release, Deliverance is most definitely at the bottom of the barrel.
As you may possibly know, the atmosphere of Opeth's music generally doesn't create the image of flowers on a field (unless it's a dark field at midnight haunted by demons and ghosts), but Deliverance is definitely the least friendly of the lot. While its precedessor, Blackwater Park, was on a comparable level of heaviness, it had the almost sing-along Harvest and some more delicate moments. On the other hand, Deliverance, just like its supposedly soft counterpart, Damnation, sounds dark as hell even at its calmest. Even though a few years later Ghost Reveries continued this direction even further, and its occult-related themes certainly helped in that, Deliverance has a much more monolithically dark atmosphere, which stays from the heavy, intense beginning of Wreath, through the overwhelmingly sad A Fair Judgement, to the chaotic and gloomy closer By the Pain I See in Others.
This is already the third album recorded by the Opeth's "classic lineup". The Mighty Overlord Mikael Åkerfeldt, as well as present since the debut Peter Lindgren provide the guitars, with the easily recognisable style of heavy, yet often melodic riffs. The two can go anywhere from crushingly heavy, as in my favourite opening riff to Master's Apprentices, to beautiful and melodic as in A Fair Judgement. When it's heavy, there's definitely death and progressive metal riffing involved, when it gets softer and melodic (not that often here), we're going more into progressive rock and even slightly jazzy territory. As always, there are some acoustic guitars involved, but probably less on Deliverance than any other Opeth album. They have some interesting uses here though and a bit different than what tends to be the norm with Opeth, such as the section in Master's Apprentices which sounds almost ethereal, or the crazy riff in By the Pain I See in Others, which has an almost tribal feel to it.
While the song structures and riffing may sound familiar after Blackwater Park and the core sound of the album is mostly the same, there are definitely some changes and new elements, such as the melodic guitars in the second half of Wreath which are a step closer to the style found later on Ghost Reveries, or the piano intro in A Fair Judgement which is a beautiful addition. Basically there's plenty of small bits and pieces that make this album a very logical continuation from its precedessor, but also give it more character and keep it more interesting. The vocals are essentially unchanged: Mikael's great and powerful low growling style and beautiful, soft voice simply doesn't get old, and work just as well as always. Last but definitely not least we have the rhythm section, provided again by the famous "Martins" Lopez & Mendez. Some sections and riffs are basically carried by them and would lose a lot without their finesse and creativity, especially Martin Lopez's drumming on this album is plain amazing, like in the aforementioned opening riff to Wreath or the entire title track. He really knows when is the time to play less and when is the time to play more, and when it is the time to play more, his playing is incredibly smart and creative.
Another thing which adds weight to the album is that it's basically built of five 10+ minute monsters, with just one short acoustic interlude. No shorter ballads this time, basically every song is serious progressive metal business here. The said interlude, For Absent Friends, is nice, but it's not as sophisticated and atmospheric as Patterns in the Ivy from Blackwater Park, and it doesn't work that well when listened to separately. However, each of the "serious" tracks has a lot to say here. The only calmer song here is the beautiful and very melancholic A Fair Judgement, which starts with piano, and slowly, progressively (through subtle vocals and a wonderful guitar lead as the chorus) builds up, ending with... a heavy, doomy riff. The other tracks are definitely heavier and as usual in Opeth's case (which is basically the band's primary "love or hate" aspect), have much more complicated and sometimes plain crazy structures, jumping between slow, fast, calm, heavy and whatever else you can imagine. I find the transitions to be mostly very smooth even if sometimes quite daring, and they definitely do work on the majority of this album.
My personal favourites here are Master's Apprentices, which begins with an amazing slow, crushing riff, only to descend into a beautiful acoustic section (and then get heavier again), and the famous title track, with its amazing riffing and intensity: it's not the fastest track ever in terms of speed, but the way the riffs and sections progress forward is a different story. The whole thing basically rolls forward like infernal toilet paper, crushing everything on its path, and if it appears to be slowing down then it's only to explode with even more violence. In the meantime, both manage to be incredibly atmospheric (I swear the acoustic sections here are darker than the heavy ones). And then there's the outro of the title track which is bound to be one of the biggest "love or hate" cases in the history of metal. I'm in the first group.
It might be possible to complain here and there that some details on the album could work slightly better and maybe a few sections drag for slightly too long; also, the last two minutes of the album are a bit unnecessary (some strange effect with the vocals reversed, it is slightly interesting but not really needed). Nevertheless, this album is the definition of a 8/10 rating for me - it's simply incredibly solid, everything works well here, the flow of the album is great, and even if there are more extraordinary albums, Deliverance is just very enjoyable to listen to. This is plain and simple a very good Opeth album, just even a bit darker than usual.
Ah! And here we are again with Opeth and their distinct brand of melodic metal! Unlike their previous album, Deliverance is more on the heavy, melodicly death metally side of the spectrum. And this particular re-issue doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles that Blackwater Park re-issue did. Just a shinny new finish to the overall sound quality. Much appreciated as it once again, sounds fantastic.
The sonic assault that awaited me as I switched out my Blackwater Park album for this one left me in somewhat of a daze. It’s pretty obvious that this is the same band as before, but only slightly. All of the uber tight musicianship is still there and Mikael’s voice is still a perfect match for what’s being played all over. The big difference, as stated before, is that Deliverance is heavy as balls! Speedier beats and a hell of a lot more aggression flows from Martin Lopez and this sticks. Especially in those extended blast beats!
The guitar work is top notch once again! Masterful riffs machine gun and chug their way across your eardrums, tearing anything that may resist into hole riddled husks in the process. That is, when they crank up the arggo. Overall though, the guitar tones are still fairly chill if not a little bit fast in some spots. That’s kind of an odd description, but those of you who’ve heard this album before know exactly what I’m talking about. And once again, we have bass work that begs to be acknowledged for the genius that it is. It’s not very often that the murky bass lines of a melodic album get called out front to beat the audience into submission. I’m sure Martin Mendez doesn’t mind answering that call though.
With the brilliance that is Opeth beginning to grow on me, it’s getting harder to pick out things to be unhappy with (normally, it’s not nearly as big a problem if you know what I mean). All I can really say is that apparently, it’s a habitual problem of Opeth’s to be found recycling the same riffs over and over and over again. Sure guys, I we know their great. You know they're great! But that doesn’t mean you should bludgeon us over the collective head with them! Geez…
Overall: Even if there’s not much to report back on about the re-issueness of this re-issue, the album itself is still a powerhouse of a release! Speedier, melodic, minimal prog (meh. I could of use more just to keep up the flow. But you can’t fault a band for exploring the directions they wish to) and a whole lot of heavy! Opeth are scoring two for two with me so far and something tells me that I’m going to love Damnation just as much as these two previous albums…
Opeth is a hard band to review, mainly because they’re so controversial. The debate surrounding them on Metal Archives is so intense and so played out that it’s hard to say anything new about them. Many reviewers, even a few good ones, pick one of Opeth’s albums out of a hat, and pretend they are writing a review for that album. In reality, they simply write a review bashing the band as a whole.
It was because of this debate that I approached Deliverance with a certain amount of caution. It didn’t help that my brother had bought the album against my recommendation to stay away from it – after all, the last time he had done that, the album was Iced Earth’s The Glorious Burden, which, apart from “Declaration Day”, sucked the big one.
Most of my fears were dispelled immediately when I hit the play button, and the album kicked in immediately with a drum fill, a loud death grunt, and a violent riff. The heavy parts of the album dominate – 75% of the album is heavy – but the soft parts are still there. The album itself consists of six tracks, whose average length is 10:18.
Ultimately, people looking for a good melodeath album in Deliverance are going to be disappointed. Although its roots are in the melodeath style, what makes Deliverance an enjoyable listen is the black metal-like atmosphere. It’s not the kind of atmosphere that most black metal bands have, but it’s similar. Musically, Deliverance has very little to do with black metal, other than a few riffs, but the atmosphere created by the guitar sound is similar. It’s not very grim or frostbitten – on the other hand, it’s a very foggy, marshy atmosphere. Close your eyes, and you can imagine yourself slogging through a dense swamp in the middle of the night, with only a flashlight to guide your way. As I said, the guitar sound and riffs are the main elements in this atmosphere. I can’t quite put my finger on what exactly it is, but it is there.
The music isn’t overly showy, but it is somewhat technical, especially the drumming. Martin Lopez handles the many different textures, beats, and time changes thrown at him with ease. His drum sound fits the album perfectly, and his drumming is busy, but only a little more than it needs to be. On the other hand, the bass playing is mixed very low, and I usually can’t hear it – and this is coming from a bass player, who’s used to listening for bass parts in music. From what I can make out, Martin Mendez is more than competent, but I can’t make out much. It’s a crying shame, really, and it’s one of the reasons this album fails to reach the status of “masterpiece”.
With the drums as busy as they are, and the bass inaudible, the role of backbone falls to Peter Lindgren, the rhythm guitarist. In this role, he delivers. His riffs hold the album together, and they also keep the atmosphere going when Åkerfeldt decides to take one of his infrequent solos.
The acoustic sections of the album are only 25% of the total, but they’re also very important – both to the atmosphere and the band’s commercial success. The average non-metal listener might not be ready for an hour of dreary, creepy melodeath. I’m not saying that the acoustic sections are on this album solely because the kiddies who listen to the band need a break from all the scary, scary death metal, but it is what makes the band accessible to those listeners. The sections are also very atmospheric, especially when enhanced by Åkerfeldt’s ghostly clean singing voice.
His death grunts also enhance the atmosphere of the heavy parts – the atmosphere is already there, but when his vocals throw a few pissed-off ghosts into the aforementioned swamp, the album can be hypnotizing.
The most accessible song on the album is “A Fair Judgment”. Once you’re done with the piano intro – really people, if you don’t like it, just fast-forward through it – you’re greeted by (gasp!) a verse-chorus structure, which promptly falls apart for a soft bridge and a long instrumental section, after which it returns for one more verse and a doomy outro riff. It’s catchy, it’s hummable, and it’s ten minutes long, and I loved it.
There will be plenty of times when you won’t feel like sitting through a song on this album, and that’s okay. It’s one of those albums you listen to infrequently, but appreciate when you do listen to it. Deliverance is certainly not boring, but it’s no masterpiece.
While containing a fair amount of soft parts, “Deliverance” can be considered, together with the first three Opeth records, one of the most “metal” albums released by the band. The songs are extremely heavy and, at times, decently fast, with the guitar work obviously assuming the main role, always accompanied by the powerful drumming, courtesy of the admirable Martin Lopez.
However, the progressive side of Opeth wasn't forgotten here, since all the songs are very very long, going through lots of different sections and segments. On the songwriting level, “Deliverance” probably is the best Opeth record out there; they are constantly accused of bad songwriting and annoying transitions, but this time almost every track displays better songwriting and an intricate, but, at the same time, logical structure. “Wreath” is an example of that; it probably is the most aggressive tune Opeth ever released and it sounds like a lost song composed during the “Orchid” sessions, but with improved songwriting, the riffs and different movements flowing really well together.
Mikael Akerfeldt's growls are especially used during this song, but they are also constantly used during the other songs; he doesn't use his clean voice that much during this piece (the only big exception is “A Fair Judgement”, where he just sings cleanly), since the growls fit better with the dark atmosphere surrounding “Deliverance”. The guitar work is similar to other Opeth albums like “Blackwater Park” or “Still Life”, but this time the riffs are infinitely BETTER. While Opeth never was a band very focused on the riffs, this time they got me by surprise, check out, for example, the first one on “Master's Apprentices” and tell me it isn't catchy and effective as hell! There are also some melodic heavy riffs present here; they remind of the riffing of some other Gothenburg melodic death metal bands, and while I despise most of those acts, this kind of riffs give a very special 'nuance' to Opeth's music. The acoustic guitar is also present, mostly during the title track and “A Fair Judgement”. As for the drumming, it is obviously top notch, Martin Lopez is one of my favourite drummers ever and here he proves why: his beats are pretty damn simple during most of the times but still tasteful, and he plays some complex patterns at times too (check out the marvellous outro of the title track for a quick example). His performance is even better if we compare it with the simplistic one he delivered on “Blackwater Park”, the predecessor of “Deliverance”.
The heaviness of the tunes is also highlighted by the strong production: after producing “Blackwater Park”, Steven Wilson was also hired for the production of this piece, and the result is perfect, fortunately. And I say fortunately because I hated the way he produced “Blackwater”; on that album the guitars sound extremely weak, the same exact thing going to the drums. But this time there are no problems with the production, thank God.
Moving to the songs, the three highlights of this album are, by order of appearance, “Deliverance”, “A Fair Judgement” and “Master's Apprentices”. The title track and “Master's” are both heavy songs, with intense riffs and excellent structures. “Deliverance” is the most complex song here, though: the song constantly goes through soft and heavy segments, thanks to some crucial, and smooth, transitions. The guitar solo is an important part of this tune, this record also containing lots of other solos; solos aren't present on many Opeth tracks, so that's remarkable. The song closes with a catchy outro. As for “Master's Apprentices” it is a rather simple song, by Opeth standards of course (yeah, because 10 min-songs can't be 'simple'), containing a heavy first section full of great riffs (the first one is particularly catchy, I've already mentioned it I think), then going through a melodic middle section (which absolutely rules, by the way, especially that “awaaaaaaaaay” part) and ending with another intense part.
“A Fair Judgement” is completely different though, opening with a subtle, slightly melancholic, piano intro (whoah!), which lasts for about one minute, leading us then to a beautiful section where Mikael sings cleanly, accompanied by some pretty atmospheric riffs and talented drumming. The drumming is especially good on this song, Martin Lopez uses a pretty simple pattern during most of the time, ading ghost notes and other things here and there; remember, boys, listen to this tune and it will show you how to be a great drummer! Don't be a Mike Portnoy, don't play complex beats just for the sake of it, don't play with your head; play with your heart, like Lopez! Two another notes about “A Fair Judgement”: the solo section absolutely owns and the outro is also pretty damn good, with a powerful doomy riff; it kind of reminds me of the outro of Pantera's “Domination” (or, more recently, Dream Theater's “Dark Eternal Night”), but it is way, way better.
Unfortunately, despite those four great songs, there is also a slightly weaker song present here, the odd “By the Pain I See in Others”, a tune that I don't like that much. “For Absent Friends” is a typical acoustic interlude in the vein of the one present on “Blackwater Park”; it is kind of repetitive, but it really adds something to the atmosphere of “Deliverance” and to the whole listening experience. Remember, the interludes, at times, work pretty damn well (see Iced Earth's “Night of the Stormrider”), but when used too many times, they turn the listening experience into a nightmare (see, say, Iced Earth's “Framing Armaggedon”).
Concluding, another fantastic Opeth album, which I recommend to all the metalheads that want to get into this band; while the songs are long, they are well composed and, most of all, heavy, so there are no room for “Ah, I don't like them because they are too mellow for me, I prefer heavier stuff”. Highly recommended, ah, and this album is much much better than the rather uninspired “Damnation”, remember that.
Ah, thank you Opeth, for another great album.
Best moments of the CD:
-the latin percussion part on “Wreath”.
-the outro of the title track.
-the solo of “A Fair Judgement”.
Let me preface this with saying that Opeth are one of my favorite bands so this review may be a bit biased. Also let me say that I am more than a little pissed with some of the reviews for this album. Not that they are low but because of the lack of intelligent though process that should've been put into it. One reviewer says Opeth "[do not] do brutality well." Well, that's because Opeth isn't trying to be 'brutal'. Opeth by their nature are a progressive death metal band. Progressive does not mean brutal. And someone complained of their songs being too long and that they were sure to bore listeners. Opeth's commercially successful albums have tracks just as long as this so apparently people are not too bored.
With that rant aside now we come to the real review of Opeth's "Deliverance". While not the greatest Opeth release to date it is still a very strong, solid, and overall well written album both musically and atheistically. It should've been a double album with "Damnation" as the other CD but because of the greedy nature of record companies Opeth were shafted.
Deliverance is a pretty heavy album in terms of Opeth's musical career. Only a few parts on any of the tracks and sung cleanly by Åkerfeldt. Musically the album is very solid and well written. There is the right amount of heaviness in the riffs and bass lines and the rhythm of Martin Lopez on the skins definitely helps.
I will spare you a track by track review because that would be excessive and rather newbish of me. Seminal tracks on this album include the title track "Deliverance", "A Fair Judgment", and "By The Pain I See In Others". What I found most notable about this album and pretty much every other Opeth album was not the complexity of the songs themselves but the complexity in the lyrics and vocalization style of Mikael Åkerfeldt. Any vocalist who can easily switch between a death growl and clean vocals is undoubtedly talented. What's more is that both his death growl vocals and clean vocals are equally impressive. Neither outweighs the other because both are done very well. Lyrically many of the songs are misanthropic, a common theme in Åkerfeldt 's writing, but not to the point of melodramatic-ness which is all to prevalent in some other metal lyrics.
On whole Deliverance isn't a 100 or even a 95, but its damn close. I give it a 92 because it does have a few flaws, most of those coming in the form of production quality and volume difference on some of the audio tracks. Also there just weren't enough tracks for me personally. However as I said above this was supposed to be a double LP but because of the record company, things fell through. At the end of the day, all is well that ends well for Sweden’s progressive death metal gods, Opeth.
Opeth's hard time recording this effort sure shows its ugly face through the music. The band's trademark progressive sound has earned them the reputation of a band that fears nothing in terms of artistic impression, and in Deliverance they kind of take it to the next level; until now they were all about the conflicting friction of melody and brutality, and now it's all the more apparent as they reveal their darkest sides. Deliverance is by all means a characteristic Opeth record, but it's also their heaviest one yet.
Right from the beginning of the album's opening song, Wreath, it's apparent that Opeth had some anger to let off, with some fast riffing and Martin Lopez's famous unique style of drumming. Mikael's growl shines through this effort, transmitting an atmosphere of dread and mystery. One of Peter Lindgren's best solos compliments this song, and its finale, actually a return to its beginning, ends this shocker quite well. This trend is carried on through the titular Deliverance, which is by far one of the band's finest songs. It's an epic ride that's over thirteen minutes long, starting with an evil segment of guitar greatness that leads to the album's first melodic break showcasing Mikael's breathtaking clean vocals. "Walk with me, you'll never leave, wait to see your spirit free", he says, and one wouldn't be blamed for having the goosebumps listening to it. Once again, both Peter and Mikael play a guitar solo in the song, and both serve the purpose of moving things forward very well. And just when he finishes his evil growls and you think his now-clean singing is about to end the song, you're introduced to over three minutes of atmospheric guitar. The rhythm is dictated in perfect synchronization by both guitar and drums, ending the song on a very heavy note.
At this point, well over 20 minutes into the album, it's Opeth's perfect timing for introducing a melodic, moving song, just as they did with Blackwater Park's Harvest or Still Life's Benighted. A Fair Judgement is Opeth's longest song to feature no growls, clocking in at over ten minutes. But mind you, these ten minutes feel like less because the song flows so well. After the intro, played by Steven Wilson on a grand piano, the laid-back feeling of the gently-sung verses is contrasted very well by the heavy "chorus", which comprises of a heavy riff and some beautiful lead guitar by Mikael Akerfeldt, with the second chorus leading into a beautiful, heart-breaking acoustic segment complimented by yet another bluesy solo by Mikael, which reminds me of the one found in the aforementioned Benighted. An appropriate heavy part showcasing two of Mikael's and Peter's best solos follows, then the song then returns to its gentle nature for one last moment of calm, and then moves into a completely unexpected doom-metal finale, ending the song (which is, in my opinion, Opeth's most beautiful song ever and definitely the highlight of this record) well and leading into the short instrumental, "For Absent Friends".
Then it's time to go back. It's Master's Apprentices that's arguably their heaviest song yet, just as groovy and dark-sounding as Still Life's Serenity Painted Death. The monster riff introducing this song is heavy, yet very catchy, and lays the groundwork for some of Mikael's finest growls ever. The song's acoustic break shows the influence of one Steven Wilson, with a bizarre sound that accompanies the clean singing very well. And when this is done, they return to the album's last fine moment, showcasing some insane heaviness through guitars, drums and vocals. Unfortunately, this isn't the end of the album. There is one more song, By the Pain I See in Others. This song is stated to be Mikael Akerfeldt's least-favorite Opeth song, and it's quite obvious why. This is without a doubt Opeth's worst song ever, and their only really bad one. It's a mess. It sounds confused, unfinished and rushed, and not only does it sound all over the place, its chorus is repeated way too many times throughout this song. It ends with an unnecessary backward-played version of the acoustic break from Master's Apprentices, ending the album on a very disappointing note.
Beyond the quality of the songs with the mentioned exception, the sound is very good. The rough guitars are heavily distorted, and the riffs throughout the record are never dull, always catching the ear of the listener. The bass will oomph through a good woofer, adding another layer to the already rich sounds, often supplied by multiple guitar tracks. But, once again, it's Martin Lopez's drumming that managed to shine through the music. The music would have been great without his drumming, but his tendency to add unique drum fills shows more than once throughout the effort. Opeth's sound has been very well-balanced since Still Life, and this stays true in Deliverance.
When you hear the drumbeat opening Wreath, you know you're in for a rough ride. Opeth has surely proven themselves capable of writing some heavy music in the past, but Deliverance is beyond heavy. It's a compliment to an album that every song on it warrants attention. Even though its final track is undeniably disappointing, it's tracks like Wreath, Deliverance, Master's Apprentices and of course, A Fair Judgement, that make this record so worthwhile. It's very heavy and might take some time to get used to, and it sure isn't a good place to start your Opeth journey, but once you've taken the time to try and really appreciate it, I'm sure you would. Deliverance is a fine Opeth record, and an awesome metal album. Highly recommended!
“Deliverance” was the album that got me into Opeth. I didn’t know them before. At first I didn’t like it very much but it wasn’t too long until I started to appreciate their unique sound. Being one of their heaviest albums, “Deliverance” still keeps up all the typical Opeth elements: progressive death metal, complex songwriting, long songs, amazing growls, nice clean vocals, wonderful acoustic parts and, above it all, a mystical, dreamy atmosphere.
The only thing I don’t like about this album is the sound. Don’t get me wrong, the production is very good (courtesy of Mr. Steven Wilson from Porcupine Tree), but it was mixed by Andy Sneap and we all know what it means: very heavy and loud sound, especially in the drums, something that ruins a bit of the album’s atmosphere. Andy Sneap may be a great choice for a thrash metal band, but not for Opeth.
Anyway, the songwriting is masterful, as usual. Five 10+ minutes lenght compositions plus a short instrumental piece. Several songs contain insane double bass assaults by drummer Martin Lopez like Opeth had never used before, and of course he also delivers loads of his jazzy playing style. It’s also noticeable the improvement in Mikael Akerfeldt’s clean vocals. His growls are insanely good, which is nothing new at all, but this is the first album in which his clean vocals have completely convinced me. There are few melodic singing sections, but they’re masterfully performed.
The first track, “Wreath”, is one of the most agressive Opeth songs ever, as it doesn’t contain any acoustic part nor clean vocals at all (except for some almost-hidden choirs at the end). “Deliverance” is not only the title track but also the album’s highlight. Longer than 13 minutes, it’s also a very heavy song with great combination of extreme and clean vocals, two outstanding guitar solos and a hypnotic ending. “A Fair Judgement” starts with a mournful piano. It’s a softer track with clean vocals only and some doomy, slow guitar riffs. Very classy. Then there’s a short instrumental interlude (“For Absent Friends”). The next song “Master’s Apprentices” brings back the heaviness being one of their most death metal oriented compositions ever, although it fades into a beautiful acoustic piece in the mid-section. The last track, entitled “By the Pain I See in Others” contains some experiments such as extreme vocals over acoustic guitars and some waltz-like parts.
Though not their best, “Deliverance” is another fine release by this unique and unmistakable band known as Opeth.
(Note: Originally written by me for Amazon.com on March 4, 2005.)
After the bleak and icy sojourn of 2001's "Blackwater Park", Opeth, masters of progressive death metal, returned to their homeland to recooperate and reinvent themselves, reincarnate themselves, and bring another new surprise to the face of metal as they have since the beginning of their existence... And here we are once again.
Opting for a more death metal-oriented sound, Opeth adding a savage tone to this album with VERY personal (almost misanthropic) and dark lyrics, while Mikael's growls grew greatly in their deliverance, projection, and power. His vile shrieks, growls, and yells are the most aggressive I have heard on any Opeth album to date, and add a bitter and unforgiving edge to the crunchy guitars and battering yet intricate drumwork. But at the same time, his clean voice is still as haunting as ever, sometimes soaked in effects such as echo to acheive an empty atmosphere. I can honestly say that the album cover perfectly depicts the music. Whereas "Blackwater Park" was a relaxing autumn morning trip through foggy forests with dew sprinkling on the leaves of dead trees, "Deliverance" is like a nightmare, dragging the listener through blackened ancient memories, torment, and hatred.
However, this isn't to say that Opeth have taken the route of technical wankery or ridiculous obscurity, nor simplifying themselves to proto-typical "cookie monster" metal. In fact, they've done the opposite. Song structures and technical abilities of all the musicians (especially Martin Lopez, the drummer) has skyrocketed, and the songwriting technique seems much more intent on atmosphere than being heavy. (Ironic, isn't it? This is most likely Opeth's heaviest album.) There are still of acoustic passages coupled with jazzy solos (ala "Morningrise") with Akerfeldt's smooth vocals overlapping it all, but there are fewer of them than previous outings. The sound is all-around more ferocious with crushing leads, complex drumming rhythms with pummeling double bass, and the almighty growl. "Deliverance" isn't as accessible as MAYH, but isn't as spaced out or atmospheric as Blackwater Park or the earlier album.
The highlights of the album are, to me at least, "Wreath", with its strange polyrhythms near the end (bongos?) and outstanding drumwork, as well as the headbanging title track. But the big moment comes with "Master's Apprentice", boasting ballsy guitars, mercyless double bass drumming, and absolutely hateful vocals, but also keeps the classic Opeth formula intact. In short, this is one of my favorite Opeth song and sums up the album well. After that comes "By the Pain I See in Others", the most experimental track with its haunting atmosphere, constant tempo changes, and displaying of top-notch musicianship. Also, after you think the track ends, there are some VERY strange and creepy backwards vocals being sung... A bit un-nerving, really...
Opeth have compiled yet another masterpiece, which has my eternal praises. This may or may not be for the older fans of the band, but is definitely a great starting point for any new fans, despite the complex and inaccessible song structures. But believe me... Once you really "understand" this album, you'll be grateful you made this purchase. Highly reccommended.
Highlights: Wreath, Deliverance, Master's Apprentices.
In short: The good is astonishingly great, and the bad is not utter crap, but is too noticeably and starkly different in comparison to the good.
To begin at the beginning, with “Wreath”. Beginning with some octave chords and a fearsome vocal performance, this is one of Opeth’s most metal efforts throughout their time. This is a track that’s about in the middle in regards to quality – it’s not the most memorable of the album, but it’s a good track with some top melodies and chord progressions – and very little time dedicated to anything other than sick distortion, nasty growls, and a drumming performance that manages to be brutal without resorting to blastbeats.
Following this is the title track. With the possible exception of “Drapery Falls” off the Blackwater Park album, this is possibly the best song that Opeth have written since their “Morningrise” material. The opening of this song leaves no mercy in its path of rubble. The rhythm guitar consists of fierce tritone chords, complimented by well-done tremolo picking, followed up by one of the heaviest riffs I’ve ever heard by a prog/death band, if not all metal bands! Adding to the mayhem is a furious vocal effort from Mikael, who sounds the most pissed off he has ever been. Then after a very complicated fill, the beauty of clean guitars come in, and give you a rest from the onslaught which you have just suffered.
Mikael’s clean vocals, as exemplified in this song, seem to get better every album they do. Some can argue that they may be stale, overusing an idea etc., but his singing quality seems to increase every studio album Opeth puts out.
When we swing back into the heavy tritone riff that kicked off the song so well, you’re back and not just banging, but pounding your goddamn head to this killer passage. But it’s the next bit which is Opeth at their brilliant best – progressing to a most vehement riff, but with Mikael’s finest clean vocal performance, somehow pounding you and softening you up at the same time.
The only problem is the ending, which drags on for a little bit too long. It takes the song to a protracted length of 13:36, when it could have been perfect had it been cut off at around 11minutes long.
“A Fair Judgement” is the most mellow song on the album. It starts in that way which sounds like its being played through an old radio. Haunting minor chords are played on a piano, setting up a good atmosphere to begin with. The song begins after about a minute and a quarter, with a very orotund, dreamy ballad, then progressing to a brilliant and heavy lead without seeming to change from mellow to heavy at all. This progression repeats throughout, with no fierceness or attempts at brutality. This is Opeth at their best experiment-wise. Making a perfect combination of mellow backing, beefy, memorable leads, and Mikael’s dreamy voice again the icing on the cake.
“For Absent Friends” is a little acoustic interlude, kind of similar to “Patterns in the Ivy”. It’s basically a filler track, so there isn’t a whole lot to say about it. What can be said though it that it’s a fairly harmless little track really, a nice acoustic track with a clean electric lead played over it. It acts as a pretty nice little intermission for the album, but that’s about all it has potential to do.
Masters Apprentices is the next track on this one. This track, despite its simplicity, is the one that would have the chance to wrest the “Best song of the album” crown, from the title track. The first main riff is one of those ones that has an unsophisticated charm and memorability, and even people that dislike the track – I guarantee that there will be at least a few days when you have it stuck in your head, and find yourself humming along to it, and then there are the memorable lyrics that are easy to remember with the tune of the song backing it up.
After this high though, the album draws to a close with the sadly lacklustre “By The Pain I See In Others”. It opens up with what feels like Opeth trying to do a weak copy of themselves – they take the same formula as they did with writing “Deliverance”, but manage to completely fuck it up – the melody just doesn’t click like it did with Deliverance. The follow-up part contains a most irritating drum beat, which sounds like it was copying the outro of the title track – and when aforementioned element of the song was the worst part about it, this current song is already on shaky ground. It’s most unfortunate that after such a consistently solid album (for the most part), this song seems to be nothing other than filler to try and round off the recording at over an hours length.
As a bass player, one thing I’ve always enjoyed about this band is their different bass style. In many Opeth songs, you won’t hear the bass just plodding along to mimic the guitars in a boring fashion. As well as actually being audible (an all-too-frequent trap that metal artists fall in to), they have their own melodies and make a good contribution to the overall sound. Mendez’s performance on Deliverance is no exception – his jazzy bass tone really stands out with the guitars, while at the same time not taking over them.
It’s a serious shame that the two-CD idea of one heavy album (Deliverance) and one mellow album (Damnation) was one that never went ahead due to record label pressures. It could have made this album considerably better, not that it isn’t quite good already, but it would have been a good, original idea to have. So I’ll finish this review by saying a big “Fuck off” to Music For Nations – not only for the pressure on a great band, but for destroying the potential with Opeth’s DVD by having them only perform songs from the M4N albums (D1, D2 and Blackwater Park). You cunts deserved exactly what you got.
70 points for Opeth’s heaviest offering to date.
A lot of people have been telling me how great Opeth was and that I should really check them out...and I did. I must tell you this album isn't anything special, but it isn't that horrible either...it has its moments.
Some biggest complaints about Opeth are that they really stretch out songs, many going longer than 10 minutes, some close to 20. There is no need for that, you are just sure to bore a listener, meandering for 10-20 minutes doesn't really do much especially when your music contains so many acoustic pieces. I don't hate acoustic pieces, in fact when done properly I love acoustic parts, however Opeth in my opinion doesn't have that talent. Their acoustic pieces are boring and don't impress me at all. It is just unnecessary crap...they are mediocre at the rest. You could definately hear both the guitars and drums one doesn't outweigh the other here and that is a positive. However Opeth fails in really capturing my interest. Sure it isn't utter shit but it just isn't amazing...which is what I look for in bands. Also it does not sound good when you have heavy music with drums and guitars and you sing clean vocals, that would be best saved for acoustic pieces, keep with the growls at that time...Let's analyze this song by song...
We start off with "Wreath" which is probably the best song on this album as it doesn't contain any acoustics, and the drums and guitars actually do a decent job blending together, not amazing, but good. There are also some decent riffs however none are memorable. It might be 11:09 in length however I am not dying of boredom by 6 minutes here. There are some decent growls however the vocals here or on the rest of the album aren't too impressive.
"Deliverance" is an okay song. It draws out to a dreadful 13:35 however not all parts are bad here. One thing I have to comment on is that the intro to the song is just horrible, it doesn't sound like an intro just a continuation of another song which is not Wreath, but some other crap. There are some ok growls here at the beginning but soon at around 1:10 it turns into acoustics and whispers, and the whispers make it even worse...It picks up again at 2:54 so over a minute of waste here, and later on at around the 5 minute mark my point about clean vocals and real metal music comes in, it just doesn't blend in making it sound terrible. At 8:42 it turns acoustic again and picks up a minute later and just meanders endlessly until 13:35, I say cut out the crappy parts and you'll have a pretty decent song with some riffs and solos...but this way you just spoiled it by drawing it out...
"A Fair Judgement" has a bad beginning, a bit of quiet guitars or keyboards, whatever, not that most people would care...this goes on to about 1:20 and then we get acoustics and clean guitars until we pick up the pace a little FINALLY by 1:55. It meanders until 2:30 when we once again get greeted by whispers and acoustics...it picks up again...and goes back to acoustics...and well you get the point. This is what you basically get here...pretty worthless song if you ask me.
"For Absent Friends" is just a boring instrumental piece...nothing more to this...
Another bad beginning for "Masters Apprentices" but at least it has a beginning...and wow...they stayed away from acoustics until a little after 5 mins and it meanders like this until after 8 minutes. Then we boringly go on to a little past 10 minutes...
Want a summary for "By The Pain I See In Others"? Just take "Masters Apprentices" combined with the same drums, guitars, and same boring vocals...
As you can see the first two tracks are the only ones worth listening to on the album. The rest is just more of the same but more boring. It just doesn't seem new after that, just a repeat basically. Opeth is not a very good band, some suggestions would be to cut the songs almost in half and don't do acoustics or real metal drums/guitars with clean vocals and you have a decent band...and try to improve on that too...they aren't terrible once again, but just nothing impressive and quite boring...
This was the first of a two-part release recorded at the same time. "Deliverance" and "Damnation" were meant to go hand-in-hand, "Deliverance" being the heavy cd and "Damnation" being the mellow cd. They switched the titles around because they felt it would have been too predictable to have the names make sense. (I'm not making that up).
Although this only has four songs, it runs a little over an hour long. It was partially produced by Steve Wilson, who has a noticeable effect on the band’s sound. Everything sounds a bit washed out and dry, and parts of it sound very similar to Porcupine Tree’s “In Absentia”. The band seems to really work together well here, and the songs take a step backwards from their convoluted song structures of past. Opeth has adopted a much more straightforward style which makes “getting” the riffs a lot easier. The vocals are often layered with four or five tracks, another really great effect. All of the songs still have the same “Opeth-y” feel to them, Mikael Akerfeldt has a real way with creating memorable and exciting riffs. The drummer Martin Lopez is also very talented, often blasting away for minutes on end, but I feel his best drumming is the slowed down approach found on “Damnation” and the quiet bits in this album.
The songs all kind of blend together and due to their great length it’s easier to pick memorable segments instead of songs. All of “Deliverance” is catchy and heavy, but I think the song’s quiet bits in the middle are the best, although the song ends with a very cool, but long, head banging riff, played over and over. The band had intended to fade this out but liked the trance-like state induced after listening to the same riff for about four minutes. “By The Pain I See In Others” starts off with a reversed minute and a half and then goes into a disturbing multi-layered vocal performance over haunting acoustic guitars and violin like volume swells. This is the album’s highlight, and it has a very well played guitar solo about 3 and a half minutes in. Another interesting track is the instrumental song “For Absent Friends”. Unlike their earlier almost renaissance sounding acoustic pieces, this song has a very modern and sad sounding duet between an acoustic guitar and an electric guitar. This is probably my favorite track on the album; it’s a very pretty piece despite it’s strange track placement. Followed by this song is the worst on “Deliverance”: “Master’s Apprentice”. It has a very boring and predictable main riff, and it repeats on much too long. It sounds like the band tried very hard to be heavy, but they really missed on this track.
Overall this cd has some great moments, and some bad ones. Although they are a great band they tend to drive their songs into the ground. Once again, they should have cut these songs short!
It's starting to seem like Opeth couldn't make a bad album if they tried.... of course, this wasn't my initial reaction to Deliverance, their latest magnum opus. Like Still Life and Blackwater Park before it, I greeted Deliverance with indifference and disappointment. The clean vocals and progressive passages I loved so much about those two albums are few and far between on Deliverance... this one is apparently for the headbangers.
After several listens, my mind is changed.... Deliverance is just as brilliant and creative as their past work, just in a different sense. Wreath, the opener, kicks off with double kick and growls (is it me or do they seem strained on here?) galore, with sparse melodic lines weaving in and out of dissonant wall of sound riffage. One of the heavier things Opeth have done, and quite damn good. There seems to be an epic vibe to Deliverance, I don't know whether it was intentional or not.
This is most evident in the title track, which is by far my favorite on here. Opening off with a mind bending riff that segues into one of the best progressive moments in Opeth history (check out the jazzy drumming). The Masters Apprentices is a welcome shift in texture, being a totally progressive and mellow tune with a Porcupine Tree vibe (steven wilson produced).
Final verdict: not as good as Still Life, but still a great album and a fine addition to any metalheads collection. For the people who were all about Orchid, this one will definitely be pleasing. For the fans of Blackwater et al, Damnation is to come :)