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Review by Allan on November 13, 2002.
When I first heard about Opeth releasing a double album, I was excited for what might come. It wasn’t because I’d have twice the amount of material to listen to (hey, I’m not complaining), but more because I’m hoping that after Åkerfeldt and Co. are done with the second half of this project, “Damnation”, they might be able to come out ahead farther than before. I’m hoping that “Damnation” gives them a new sense of song writing and musicianship, because honestly, watching Opeth’s progression from album to album is a little tedious. I’m certainly not denying that Opeth don’t improve, or at least change a little bit with each album they put out, but so much of it has stayed the same that the new album “Deliverance” barely even surprised me.
What makes “Deliverance” stand slightly apart from all the past efforts of Opeth is the heaviness. “Deliverance” is the heaviest of all the albums that Opeth has ever released, largely due to the fact that the lighter sections are less abundant. However, the fact that “Deliverance” has a much stronger rhythm section also increases the heaviness, as well as some of the riffs themselves.
There is more to “Deliverance” than it being the heaviest of all the Opeth albums. On “Deliverance” Åkerfeldt takes both his guitar and vocal ability up. As for the guitar, Åkerfeldt has thrown many more solos into the songs and they’re duration has increased. Unfortunately, Åkerfeldt also opted for a less acoustic approach on “Deliverance”, maybe because he felt it would hinder the albums ability to be heavy, or maybe because he wanted them to be exclusive to “Damnation”. Either way, it’s disappointing. Vocally, Åkerfeldt has improved in both of his styles – clean and death. While the clean vocals aren’t around as much before, when they do arise they generally tend to blow me away with the emotion that Åkerfeldt puts into them. And as always, Åkerfeldt’s death metal vocals are far beyond what others offer. Sinister and as powerful as ever, Åkerfeldt offers the class and polished sound that nobody else can offer.
Not everything about “Deliverance” is as good as one would hope. One of my biggest problems with “Deliverance” is the theme of the album, or lack thereof. Between the first two songs (‘Wreath’ and ‘Deliverance’) and the last two (‘Master’s Apprentices’ and ‘By The Pain I see In Others’) are two songs. The first, ‘A Fair Judgement’, is one of the best songs on all of “Deliverance”. The problem is that the song doesn’t completely fit in with the other songs, and along with it the somewhat lackluster instrumental ‘For Absent Friends’. Neither of the songs are all and all out of place, but both of them seem like the black sheep of the family.
“Deliverance” truly lacks the cohesion that Opeth reached with “Blackwater Park”, not only with the feel of song by song, but also by the turmoil created within each song itself. Usually the songs and transitions move along excellently, but when you get to a song like ‘By The Pain I See In Others’ where by the end of the song you’re switching gears every other second, you begin to get the feeling that Åkerfeldt just had to many riffs to work with. With that becoming a problem in many parts in each of the various songs, the songs begin to unravel and lose the emotion and feeling they started with. Even then that is another problem that clouds “Deliverance”. Overall I feel that “Deliverance” lacks a lot of the emotion that Opeth has been able to create in the past, maybe due to the atmosphere of the album not being as strong as it should be, or just the way the album was written.
Bottom Line: “Deliverance” is a really good album, however it’s exactly what you would expect from Opeth, and that’s where it hurts them. I was looking for more in “Deliverance” and when I didn’t find anything I didn’t expect, I was disappointed. I guess for now Opeth will remain a band that just stick to what they’re good at, and that is still respectable.
Categorical Rating Breakdown
Rating: 7.6 out of 10