Review Summary: More on the heavy, less on the soft. Not a bad idea, if you ask me.
Opeth are well known for their tendencies to infuse several different genres of music into one, crafting their own unique atmosphere. Opeth’s most distinctive feature has always been tendency to switch swiftly from a heavy demonic sound to sombrely soft acoustic interludes. It’s also not unheard of for Opeth album’s to have a number of ballads creating an even balance of heavy and soft. So, one can only wonder what would happen if Opeth were to fixate more on the heavy aspects of their music and nearly as much on the acoustics. Enter Deliverance
is Opeth’s sixth studio release and their heaviest album to date. It has a minimal amount of tracks, with six, yet is a staggering sixty-one minutes long. For the first time since Morningrise
five different tracks exceed to ten minute mark. This was an enjoyable characteristic because it enabled more diversity to be instilled into the songs. Every song went through phases and changes as they progressed and when they concluded you were satisfied. Too many times has I been listening to a good song and wished it was just a bit longer, but I had no such qualm with this disc.
is a difficult album to decipher. Several of Opeth’s releases such as Still Life
and Ghost Reveries
have been concept albums, but it is hard to tell if this album takes the same path. One thing is clear, however, Deliverance
is similar to other Opeth albums in the sense of subject matter. Opeth’s other releases have had topics such as occult beliefs and heretics. This CD seems to be in the same twisted vein. The disc’s title track Deliverance
tells us of a man drowning someone. At first the man seems sure it is the right thing to do as he holds the persons head beneath the waterline, but later in the song it is apparent the man greatly regrets his decision. Other songs seem to talk a lot about a man having nightmares and hearing voices. Whether or not this album embodies a concept, I am unsure of, but it certainly contains some interesting and demonic ideas.
Keeping in sync with the lyrics the CD’s musical facets were equally demonic and gloomy. Apart from occasional acoustic portions this album is primarily a festival of riffs. Album opening track Wreath
is a shining exemplar of this. After a brief drum fill to start the guitar wastes no time, galloping into a ominous riff perfectly accentuated by Akerfeldt’s howling, low-pitched growls. While the heavy parts of the disc were consistently powerful some were less fast paced and more melodious. For example, the intro to album closer By The Pain I See In Others
. Eventually the track gets rather frantic, but during the intro it’s somewhat solemn sounding while being surprisingly catchy. Riffs aside, Deliverence
also showcases some of Opeth’s best solos. A Fair Judgement
does a swell job of showing this off. Around the six and a half minute mark a solo belts out, bringing the song a splendid climax. As is typical when listening to Opeth, the solo was not overly complex or vastly complicated. After all, it didn’t need to be. It was a solid length and had lots of tasteful bends, which was all the song needed.
Not to let the guitar have all the fun, the rest of the instruments had strong showings. Martin Lopez’s work on drums was particularly fantastic. For instance, listen to the intro to Master’s Apprentices
. Beneath the distorted guitar you can hear some extraordinary double kicks. It’s somewhat astonish that Lopez can play so frantically while keeping such perfect time. The album was also absolutely infested with skilful fills and neat little roll beats. The piano also had some moments. While not evident in many tracks it made its presence known in A Fair Judgement
. The piano isn’t overly frantic, but rather some mellow chords. It was a benevolent way to begin the song as it was probably the slowest of the album’s heavy tracks.
Due to the heavier nature of Deliverance
we here a lot more Akerfeldt’s signature growl and not as much of his clean vocals. Admittedly, the man does have a great clean vocals, but I had no problem with less of them and more of the growl. Both are wonderful, but Mikael’s growl just better suited the CD’s atmosphere. I also find that his growl is better for keeping the listeners attention. His clean tone is extremely soothing. This is good, but soothing is not a feature that keeps people focused. Rather it tends to make people drift into thought, thusly veering their attention away from the music.
Overall, this album is an absolute powerhouse. Definitely some of Opeth’s most compelling and enthralling material. Also, the fact that it had so few songs ensured that there was no filler and the two minute instrumental ballad in the middle of the disc provided a brief, but magnificent change of pace. Get this.