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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”.