Review Summary: Opeth's most underrated album.
This is a pretty long review, so you might want to go get some concessions before you begin reading this.
Progressive Metal has had a shadow cast over it since the beginning of the 90s. Such giants as Tool and Dream Theater have been dominating the scene with their innovative styles, incredible musicianship, and entrancing albums. These bands have kept a massive fanbase that will remain loyal until the bitter end. Seems like these two are dominating the scene, right? Guess again. What would you listen to if you wanted the same virtuosity and songwriting abilities but were looking for something heavier? Darker? More evil than even some death metal bands? By now there's no other way to mention the band. Enter the world of what is now the underground metal scene's king. Enter...
Opeth on this album consists of:
Mikael Akerfeldt: Guitars and vocals
Peter Lindgren: Guitars
Martin Mendez: Bass guitars
Martin Lopez: Drums
With guest member:
*Steven Wilson: Vocals, mellotrons, and keyboards
This band has been making landmark albums in both the metal and progressive genre since the early 90s. Their first two albums, Orchid
, featured the very popular dual-harmonized guitars and lots of acoustic breaks. It was a great style, but the band could only last with this formula for so long. After these two albums had been released, Mikael Akerfeldt felt so sick of the band's past sound, so he set out to change that. After replacing their old bass player and drummer (who is now Mendez and Lopez) they released the band's first album with a new sound that was much darker and heavier than before: My Arms, Your Hearse
. This album still featured the epic progressive tracks but applied some new styles that were new and pleasing for the fans of the band.
It wasn't until 1999 that the band released their first truly epic album, Still Life
. This album is regarded by many Opeth fans as their best to date, due to the fact that it is a concept album and features some of the band's most epic songs ever recorded (like The Moor and Face of Melinda). Opeth had almost achieved their perfect style and sound, but they were still missing something. I'll tell you exactly what it was: keyboards. Finally added in on what I consider to be their best album, Blackwater Park
, this album finally harnessed the sound that the band was aiming for on My Arms, Your Hearse
. This album was as heavy as ever but also showcased the band's true potential as writers of clean songs that even the death metal fans could listen to and enjoy. After so much sucess, what was left for the band to do? Why not make a two-album force? Sounds like a great idea to me. The band set out to create Deliverance
, each album showing a different side of the band. Deliverance
was the heavy album showing the band's influences from death metal, and Damnation
being the opposite, showing the band's strong progressive influences. Now that you've gotten a history of the band until now, we can actually get to the album.
This album was recorded under some hard times. If you have seen the band's DVD which contained a documentary of recording this album it shows that the group almost broke up while in the studio. The place where they were recording was being incredibly unprofessional, almost making Opeth's album not able to be released in time. So what saved them from their ultimate demise? Steven Wilson did. He had worked with the band on their past album and was more than happy to work with them again. Thanks to his work with the band, Opeth is still going strong today.
Even though this was set out to be the heavy album of the two, it still has lots of parts where there are clean sections and sung vocals, so fear not.Also, the production quality to this release is certainly something that Opeth fans have not experienced before. The guitar tone is incredibly raw and is almost annoying at times. It's not nearly as full as it was on such albums as Still Life
and Blackwater Park
. From the opening chugging riffs of the song "Wreath" you can hear a tone that is unlike any other, and not for a good reason. It doesn't ruin the album by any means, but it's still something that I know bothers some fans out there. I've goten used to it by now.
The group is certainly extremely tight by this point and never misses a beat. Lopez and Mendez make a great combination as a rhythm section and allow Akerfedlt and Lindgren to solo about. Lopez is a man of many talents when placed behind a drumset. He has both the talents of a death metal and progressive drummer which is exactly what the band needs. You can find him laying down some fast double bass beats on songs like "Wreath" and "Master's Apprentices", but also hear him play some incredibly tasteful beats on clean sections in "Deliverance" and "A Fair Judgement". It's quite enjoyable and would please percussionists even more. Mendez is often overshadowed by the rest of the band, but he still lays down a very solid groove throughout and will occasionally play out, putting in some tasteful fills to put some icing on the cake, if you will.
While the rhythm section is great, the true heart of Opeth really comes from Akerfeldt's and Lindgren's guitar riffs, solos, and acoustic passages. These two members have been in the band since its formation, so it's easy to say that they know how to interlock with each other quite well. Akerfeldt has a tremendous ability to create some incredibly crushingly heavy riffs that are melodic and dissonant at the same time. It's quite fun to headbang along to riffs from just about every song on the album. Each track has something new to offer. His acoustic parts are equally as impressive. The true highlights from this album would be the long finger picked section in "A Fair Judgement" and the short interlude track, "For Absent Friends". While it's a tad out of place from the song, it's still really impressive and enjoyable. The two guitarists also have recorded plenty of solos on this record, a ton more than they did on past releases. They both get an equal amount of solos and they both do a fantastic job on them. Guitar players should really find some impressive stuff on this album.
If you're a regular on the forums here, you might remember that Mikael Akerfeldt was voted to be one of the best vocalists in Rock and Metal (3rd, I believe). Those polls weren't lying, people. Mikael has one of the most brutal growls that I have ever come across, and this album is probably the one release that shows it the best. You will be pounded into a state of metal euphoria in less than 20 seconds when you hear his opening screams in the first track. But don't think that he's only a one-trick-pony. He's actually still an incredibly talented singer as well. I was incredibly shocked when I first heard the band knowing that he did both the screams and clean vocals on the album, and Deliverance
is a prime example of his greatness. Just about every song on this release showcases his, well, beautiful voice and also contains some impressive harmonies with Steven Wilson. The best example of this would be the long vocal harmonies in "Master's Apprentices". Vocalists also have something to look forward to, be it that you like growling or singing.
So after so much praise and greatness, is there anything wrong with Deliverance
? Besides the production, I can only really think of one other thing. The last song, "By the Pain I See in Others", isn't the band's best song on the album, and it just can't compare with the other monsters that this album has to offer. It's still a solid track, but after hearing 5 other songs that were just about perfect, this song just drags along, leaving the album ending on a bad note. The song still has some enjoyable riffs in it, but as a whole I usually end up skipping it or going back to hear another one of the songs. It's not that big of a setback, but you can still notice it when you hear it.
In conclusion, this album is a must have for just about anyone. It has something that fans of many different styles of music can enjoy. If you're into some heavy, chugging riffs, this album certailnly has plenty of that. If you like more relaxing songs with great singing and acoustic parts, this album contains these, too. I actually think that this album is a classic in the progressive metal genre, but the harsh vocals might turn a few people away. In short, this album should be in your collection if it isn't by now.
Final Rating: 5/5