Review Summary: Opeth have gone all out in terms of brutality for this album, and in most parts, have elegantly succeeded.
Even though this album was written to be their pure heavy album in contrast to Damnation, it is no way an only death metal record. There are lots of soft moments in their music that sound very natural, just like their usual transitions. The only difference in the approach Opeth had for this album (other than heaviness) was the touch of evil in their lyrics. By this I mean to say musically the band is the same as it was for Blackwater Park but lyrical themes have been shifted from a sad note to an angry, evil note. The album art is perfect in this sense for the album that it conveys everything about the music.
The opening song 'Wreath' is one of the heaviest songs Opeth have ever recorded. It's a fast upbeat song although one of the less melodic ones. Even though this can be considered one of their actual death metal songs, it does have its softer moments. For example, the use of the tabla just before the aggressive guitar solo really highlights Opeth's skills at using beautifully working contrasts in between their music. Akerfeldt here also uses imagery which is more reminiscent of classic death metal songs rather than something which would be found on an Opeth record such as
"familiar children's laughter
dissonant and out of time
and their eyes are dead."
Then plays the title track, the very sinister sounding Deliverance. It is not only the lyrics or the music that make this song really evil, but Akerfeldt had really gotten into the character of a dangerous, deranged guy for this one. The lyrics are just beautiful, describing very accurately and vividly the intentions and actions taking place. The highlight of Deliverance then kicks in with Martin Lopez's drumming outro.
Also, for this song at least, Akerfeldt chose to growl using a certain rhythmic pattern rather than letting the words flow the way they used to. This achieves the effect of more popular death metal but at the same time makes it sound a little pretentious. Looking at these moments, Deliverance didn't manage to be as great as the likes of Still Life, or Blackwater Park.
By The Pain I See In Others is a brilliant closing track to the album. Akerfeldt experiments with varied growls over an acoustic riff in this song, achieving a very nice sounding effect. The various transitions that have been used here are very enjoyable and they seem to seamlessly flow into each other. The acoustic transition to the death metal blastbeats and killer riffs at 8:16 is the most notable one.
The peak moment of this album, imo, lies in the song 'A Fair Judgment'. Unlike the other songs on this record, the song starts slow with a keyboard intro. Although this song does not showcase any growls, it is a very heavy track. The acoustic interlude is beautifully written and sounds like magic to the ears. Akerfeldt once again proves that he is one of the best there is for those soft, emotional guitar solos. The song peaks after the short solo when the guitars are taken to another level and in my opinion, one of Opeth's finest guitar solos is lashed at you. A sudden transition leads to another verse repeat and then unknowingly into the outro of the realization of your doom. The music paints the bleak images in synergy with the lyrics, a characteristic Opeth seems to have mastered since Morningrise.
This album, however, employs more repetition of riffs and verses than previous Opeth albums. This may make it a little monotonous to a few listeners but the key to enjoying these songs is going with the lyrics. For example, in Master's Apprentices the first riff drags on for a lot of time but the lyrics constantly keep adding something new to the imagery of hopelessness. This is the only way to enjoy their music completely as their poetic lyrics are part of what differentiates them from other death metal bands.
Overall, this album has many enjoyable riffs and guitar solos. As always, Mikael Akerfeldts clean vocals are a joy to listen to over the chaotic guitar riffs. Martin Lopez's drumming is also at his peak throughout the album, constantly innovating and contributing to an already excellent record. It makes for an awesome headbanging experience and also plucks our emotional chords at the same time.