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Global Domination | Class 6(66) | Opeth: Deliverance

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Class 6(66)

Opeth: Deliverance

25/05/12  ||  Global Domination

Introduction:

Smalley: When it comes to Opeth, everyone has a different favorite; some say “Morningrise” is the best, some say “Still Life”, and so on. And, while those are all great albums, another release in particular sticks out to me as the band’s tightest, most compelling work to date, 2002’s “Deliverance”. For me, this is the best balance between the warring factions of Opeth’s brutal, punishing sensibilities and their soft, melodic ones, propelled by the most consistently ambitious, varied, and ingenious songwriting of Mikael Åkerfeldt’s formidable career. It’s a modern fucken metal classic, and that’s all you need ta know (even though we’ll keep writing). CadenZ?

CadenZ: Being an O fanboy since ca. 1995, I’m having difficulty ranking The Mighty Mike’s contributions to the music world in an orderly fashion, but “Deliverance” surely is one of Opeth’s finest moments. The contrasts between harsh and mellow have never been as sharp and jagged, the overall atmosphere is bleak and full of despair and death, and the title track is one of the finest creations in music history. Need one say more about the classic value? No. Of course not. But you should thank us for still doing it.

Songwriting:

C-Zection: From the first relentless seconds of “Wreath” to the last ethereal cock strokes of “By the Pain I See in Others”, this album grips you simultaneously by the balls and brains and never lets go. Mike brought his A game here, and the fore-mentioned harshness is probably a by-product of them recording the semi-acoustic “Damnation” during the same sessions, and thus turning the grvmness up a notch for this deather side of the coin. Beautiful transitions between malevolent pounding, somber melancholy and groovy madness permeate the disc, with the pinnacle being the dual masterpiece “Deliverance” and “A Fair Judgement”. With those two songs alone, Åkerfeldt’s place among the metal greats would’ve been secured. Only the fleeting moments of only-very-good-but-not-great on the two last tracks of the record hold my verdict down to 9.5.

Smallz: The track-to-track flow is excellent; “Wreath” kicks you in the balls with crushing, bleaker-than-“Bleak” riffing, maintaining a creatively grim atmosphere for 11 minutes without ever becoming tiresome, before the towering title track cools things down for a more even heavy/soft mixture. The way the urgent opening ever so gracefully eases into that jazzy drumming and serene acoustic guitar always bring cum to my eye, and the overall balancing act of the track is so perfect, there should be a law against it. Anyway, like CadenZ said, “Deliverance” is one of the best metal songs ever, but metal ballad “A fair judgement” is no slouch either, with its haunting piano use and almost confessional-like intimacy. The part near the end where it’s just Åkerfeldt and the piano…? Aw man, if there was ever an argument against metal being mindless meathead music, this was it. As for the lovely lil’ instrumental “For absent friends”, just read and let me move on.

Unfortunately, now I come to my first disagreement with CadenZ; I really, really dig the meaty groove of “Master’s apprentices”, as well as its soft, space-y mid-section, while “By the pain I feel in others” is the only song here I’m not crazy about. It’s still decent, but I dislike the unnecessary demon-gargle vocal effect, and it just feels like a misshapen Frankenstein to me, constructed out of various bits ‘n pieces left off the other songs. Does little for the album’s overall “dramatic arc”. Still, even excluding it, you still have a complete, 45+ minutes of music here, so it doesn’t wreck the 9.5 the songwriting on “Deliverance” gets.

CZ: Just pointing out that “MA” and “BtPISIO” are excellent tracks, but not all the way through. I’m guessing the multiple orgasms during the first half of the album gave Mike the sleepy eyes and made him less focused, and some mere awesome material slunk through. His penis.

Production:

Smallz: This section’s an 8.5 for me; I liked how Åkerfeldt and Steven Wilson kept some of the sharp, polished roughness quality the rhythm guitar had on “Blackwater park”, but noticeably lowered its tone here, adding a meaty, fuller, more evil-sounding quality, which really helps out on the heavier sections. Also love how punchy the drum sound is, so you can hear all of Martin’s awesome notes, and the lead guitar… well, it sounds like a lead guitar. Kinda rare to hear that instrument fucked up. I wouldn’t have minded hearing the bass better, but whatevs.

Cock-Zlurp: The overall sound of this record is crisp and clear, with every instrument clearly audible in the mix. Lopez’ chops on the drums are exceptionally well-pronounced, without taking over the whole sound picture. Everything sounds just tits, and this is probably the best production Opeth has had on their albums. The snare doesn’t drown as it does on “Blackwater Park”, and there’s more punch to the mix than on “Ghost Reveries”. Worthy of a 9, only minuses for the guitars being only strong instead of meaty-as-fuck, and for the mellow parts being just a tiny bit too cold and harsh. A liiiittle more warmth during those segments would’ve made the contrasts even bigger, creating even bigger transitional impacts.

Guitars:

CandlemazZ: The riffage on “Deliverance” is mammaries. Sorry, Mammaries. Some parts are intricate as fuck, some parts are simple as fuck, all parts kick ass. As fuck. How eloquent. The execution is solid and tight, both on distorted and clean electrics and the ambient acoustics. The solo work is tasteful and well-done although absolutely not mind-blowing, but a 9.5 is warranted, if only for the single fact that “Deliverance” holds The Riff. You know. The last four minutes of the title track. The Riff.

Smallz: Blisteringly aggressive, catchy riffing where needed, contemplative playing at other times, delicately beautiful acoustic work, expressive, inventive, precise soloing, all elements balanced with one another and always varied up perfectly, never becoming too repetitive. More than earns this 9.5.

Vocals:

Smallz: Åkerfeldt’s a powerful, demonic, understandable growler who varies up his delivery nicely with grunts, shriek-y moments, vocal distortion effects, etc., but can also pull off some real beautiful, tender, melodic singing, which helps out on the more intimate moments like with the entirety of “A fair judgement”. Plenty of metal vocalists try to do both styles, but not both well; to put it one way, you can have yer Dio-smooth singing and Sandström-brutal growling, but not often within one man. Evil Mike’s the exception. 9

AutoCAD: Well put. I don’t have much to add, although the gorgeous, airy and sublime three-part vocal harmonies found in many parts, 4:52 in “A Fair Judgement” in particular, deserve to be mentioned. Mike’s growls have always been my personal favorites, there’s just so much meat and gravel in ‘em. I’m going with the 9.5 again here, just to annoy you fucks. “What?! Give out the ten already!!” you say. I say – fuck you. I’ll give out the ten when it’s due.

Bass:

Cadzilla: Martin Méndez possesses the most important qualities for a bassist: his playing is dependable, consistent, rhythmically tight, tasteful and he grooves like a motherfucker. Exactly the kind of the guy you want beside you. On this album his role is a little more subdued than on later discs (and “Damnation”), but he still shows off some cool lines while holding the band’s low-end foundation together. A solid 9 for the Uruguayan rock.

Smallz: Like I said, it sounds to me like they lowered the bass the overall mix here, but what I can hear of it sounds interesting enough. Not “Individual thought patterns”-good or anything, and the majority of the time, you’re too distracted by those killer riffs/solos to focus on the bass, but I’d still say Martin earns a 7.5 here.

Drums:

Smallz: “Deliverance” has my favorite drumming by Martin Lopez to date: there’s relentless, intense, precise double bass-blasting, plenty of cool, off-kilter fills and variation, and also a good deal of soft, easy going, jazz-y drumming, the smoothest you’ll hear outside of a smoke filled nightclub. Lopez also always seems to know just the right thing to do at any given moment, whether it be to stay the same or switch shit up. I also dig the completely unexpected, beatnik bongo section on “Wreath”, and you can always hear what he’s doing here like hell, so…
9.5

Cock: Precise, pristine and tight during the metal parts, groovy and sublime during the jazzier parts and, surprisingly, most fills. Lopez knew how to play the shit Iron Mike told him to play, and how to elevate the stuff. Amongst the best displays of progressive metal drumming. Agreed on the 9.5.

Lyrics:

Vin Cadiezel: Opeth’s lyrics have always been bumped to a second priority, in favor of the music, which has unsurprisingly resulted in a lower quality. Most lyrics on “Deliver-ass” are hazy, obscure tales about something which no one knows. They’re metal all right, dealing about death and whatnot, but the red thread that always runs through Opeth’s music and holds the complex riffs together, is nowhere to be found in the lyrical department. While Åkerfeldt may be no Shakespeare, he’s still created a haunting story with the conjoined songs “Deliverance” and “A Fair Judgement”. A hazy, obscure tale (of course) about a relationship turned into enraged Satanic murder, the bone-freezing realization: “What have I done”, despair, remorse, hope for atonement, and lastly the inevitable judgement – cue in MONUMENTAL RIFF OV DOOM. That story alone lifts the verdict to an 8.

Smallz: Thoughtful, poetic, emotionally intense lyrics here; some of the writing on “A fair judgement” is a tad simplistic, but besides that, they’re all pretty fascinating (and there’s a lot of lyrics on almost every track here, without reliances on mindlessly repetitive choruses, which makes the mostly-consistent writing all the more impressive). Who said death metal-influenced stuff should only talk about blood & blasphemy? Just read this passionately murderous excerpt from the title track:

The piercing sounds you make
Soaring higher, higher now
And once left in my wake
Your memory’s nothing but the scars on me

Purty, ain’t it? 8.5

Cover art:

Smallz: Works well as a compliment in subject matter/image tone to “Damnation”‘s whiteness, and I like the dark coloring and the reflection of the J-horror reject in the mirror, but it lacks in any strong, central image to truly capture the eye; my eyes just sort of… wander around the art. Still decent. 7

Catsdon’thavenineliveZ: Even though it may not capture the eye too much, the cover art surely captures the album’s vibe nicely: bleak, monochrome, haunted, death. Yes, I made a list of adjectives and inserted a noun in there. Fuck me with a barbed wire dildo. I’ll bring the lube. 8

Logo:

Captain ObviouZ: The “O” is iconic, artsy-fartsy, pretty and pretentious all at the same time. It is what elevates this logo from awful to stunning and unique. 8

Smallz: Pretentious? Psssh, I love that logo… fucken beautiful thing, with that big O that makes me do an “O” face myself, and those ornate, weaving lines, like ivy growing on a building. Killer. 10

Booklet:

Smallz: Don’t keep booklets, but I remember there being some decent, artsy pics inside… or maybe just one pic. Can’t remember. N/A

CircumsiZed CelluloZe diCkZ: There sure are some artsy and gay pics inside…your ANUS! BAM! And also inside the booklet. Everything is monochrome, bleak antique photos setting a haunted mood, and lyrics printed in a swirly font which could’ve been bigger for easier enjoyment. Very artsy and gay. 7

Overall and ending rant:

ColozzuZ: Aside from “My Arms, Your Hearse”, no Opeth album other than “Deliverance” approaches perfection in my mind. Many hold “Still Life” or “Blackwater Park” to be their magnum opus, but they are obviously wrong. I also hope that Opeth’s defining moment is yet to come, and they are off in the right direction with “Heritage”. This 2002 gem is almost throughout pure gold, and it’s safe to resort to a pun and declare that “Deliverance” delivers.

Smalley: What the other fuck-o just said.

9,5

  • Information
  • Released: 2002
  • Label: Music for Nations
  • Website: www.opeth.com
  • Band
  • Mikael Åkerfeldt: vocals, guitars
  • Peter Lindgren: guitars
  • Martín Méndez: bass
  • Martin Lopez: drums
  • Tracklist
  • 01. Wreath
  • 02. Deliverance
  • 03. A Fair Judgement
  • 04. For Absent Friends
  • 05. Master’s Apprentices
  • 06. By the Pain I See in Others