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Opeth's Masterpiece of Bruality. - 94%

woeoftyrants, January 29th, 2007

(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.