OPETH — Deliverance

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OPETH - Deliverance cover
3.73 | 120 ratings | 10 reviews
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Album · 2002

Filed under Progressive Metal


1. Wreath (11:10)
2. Deliverance (13:36)
3. A Fair Judgement (10:24)
4. For Absent Friends (2:17)
5. Master's Apprentices (10:32)
6. By the Pain I See in Others (13:50)

Total Time: 61:49


- Mikael Åkerfeldt / Guitars, Vocals
- Peter Lindgren / Guitars
- Martin Mendez / Bass
- Martin Lopez / Drums, Percussion

Additional musicians:
- Steven Wilson / Guitars, Mellotron, Backing Vocals

About this release

Full-length, Music for Nations
November 12th, 2002

Recorded between July 22 and September 4, 2002, at Nacksving Studios and at
Studio Fredman, Gothenburg, Sweden.

Engineered by Opeth, Fredrik Nordström, and Steven Wilson.
Produced by Opeth and Steven Wilson.
Mixed by Andy Sneap at Backstage Studios, Ripley, UK.
Music and lyrics by Mikael Åkerfeld.

Visual direction by Opeth.
Photographed by Ken Seany.
Additional photography by Rex Zachary and Travis Smith.
Designed and executed by Travis Smith and Opeth.
Band photography by Harry Välimäki.

Thanks to UMUR, Unitron for the updates


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Infamously, this was meant to be a double album with Damnation, which had all the quieter songs on it, but the record label wouldn't give them time to finish it properly. This does mean that as the album feels a little unbalanced - it's got more emphasis on the heavier side of Opeth's sound than Blackwater Park or Still Life did, and that wasn't intentional and can get slightly wearing, but on the whole it's still solid enough. By and large we're still in unambiguously prog metal realms, though Master's Apprentice is perhaps the most emphatic return of Opeth's death metal roots we'd been treated to since, say, My Arms, Your Hearse, or perhaps the harshest moments on Still Life.

It certainly shows the scars of its turbulent genesis, so I wouldn't put Deliverance on the level of Still Live or Blackwater Park; at the time of its release it was probably their weakest album since My Arms, Your Hearse. But hey, that was a pretty solid album - and so is this.
First impressions aren’t always the best nor the most reliable. When they coincide with predetermined expectations, the chance of disappointment runs high. With eight of Opeth’s 12 albums in my collection, I went ahead and finally ordered the two albums, “Deliverance” and “Damnation”. For both albums I had already established a notion of what to expect: “Deliverance” being the heaviest Opeth album yet and “Damnation” being more prog rock and a precursor to the much-derided “Heritage” album, which I actually love. By now I had established that songs like “Serenity Painted Death”, “Funeral Portrait” and “The Grand Conjuration” were among my favourite Opeth songs, loving them for their riffs, moods and terrifying vocals. I had high hopes that “Deliverance” would give me even greater chills and shivers.

Alas, my first listen to the album was not how I expected it would be. There was something amiss. “Wreath” tumbles in with a rapid drum intro and hammers into the heavy chords while Mikael Akerfeldt’s vocals deliver a shredding roar, which should have set my arteries quivering. But what about that guitar sound? “Blackwater Park” had reached a pinnacle in Opeth’s guitar sound exploration, a full, rich, and heavy sound. On “Wreath” the guitar sounds dry and lacking bass. The title track follows and though it features some typical Opeth heavy-acoustic-heavy alternating, the song goes right over my head the first couple of listens. “A Fair Judgement” strikes me as the most honest Opeth song yet, working in soft and loud, gentle and heavy in a way that is typical of Opeth’s style, but it was only after a few listens that this song’s significance set in for me: it’s the track to least sound like Opeth recording an Opeth album without having their hearts really set on it. “For Absent Friends” is a relaxing instrumental, nothing out of the ordinary for an Opeth album until you recall that this is the heavy album!

Only two songs left to go, and during my first listen I was up to here disappointed that I wasn’t finding the kind of songs I had imagined. “Master’s Apprentices” starts off promising with a simple heavy, pounding riff and a very good ripper kind of riff, and my hopes are up! However, it proves a few listens later still have me trying to decide if the song is fantastic or forgettable in places. It’s the final track, “By the Pain I See in Others” that scores with me at last. Here’s a heavy Opeth track that includes much of what I enjoy about their music, right up to the waltz part. But then the song ends and the final note is sustained for a few tens of seconds, just held at low volume until some amplifier noise ends the music with 3:13 still left in the track! A hidden track? Unfortunately, yes, there’s a hidden track (two actually) of Mikael singing a kind of Indian mystic tune backwards, the first coming in with 1:50 remaining and lasting some 43 seconds, and the second one coming with 0:35 left in the track. I am not a fan of hidden tracks as they usually occur after long gaps of blank space and usually don’t contribute anything to the parent track. I wish they could just be unmarked bonus tracks; it makes it so much easier to manage the songs and make mixed playlists.

There are times when I listen to this album and think it’s not so bad and other times when I almost become irritated with the music if I don’t tune out altogether. I realize the reason why is because of three things. The first is the guitar sound. Dry, lacking bass, and not really what I like in a guitar sound especially considering albums that came before and after. The second is that there are few really good riffs on this album. Opeth frequently go for complex, progressive riffs or really effective simple heavy riffs. There are no memorable complex riffs for my ears on this album and the simple heavy riffs just don’t have the wallop and punch that other albums contain. Finally, perhaps it’s because there was a conscious effort to write the more progressive/acoustic/folk side out of this album and save it for “Damnation” that I feel the music on “Deliverance” just doesn’t live up to Opeth standards. Had this been my first Opeth acquisition it is questionable whether or not I would have taken up such an interest in the band as I have now.

I have found now that I enjoy the songs much more when they have been removed from the album and put on mixed playlists, such as ones that include one song from each album. I also think it would be possible to make one very good album selecting the better material from the two albums.

Every band in my collection whose entire studio catalogue has been welcomed into my house has an album or two that are not all together interesting to me. Opeth’s “Deliverance” is not so bland; however, the album still lacks flavour in my opinion. Whether the band was trying to progress its sound, or Steven Wilson was too influential, or they were focusing more attention on “Damnation” I can’t say. There are interesting parts but for me the album is truly missing something.
It's fair to say that some bands are better within their comfort zone than others; from the moment Opeth's debut Orchid came out, their goal has presumably been to bring 70s progressive rock and folk-oriented beauty to the normally extreme nature of death metal. Whereas bands like Tristania and Within Temptation would use the "Beauty and the Beast" approach to contrasting vocal dynamics/styles, Opeth essentially brought this concept to their instrumentation. In one song alone, you could get a fast death metal riff, a soothing acoustic segment, some light jazz touches here and there in the soloing, the occasional classical detour, some occasional black metal screams (mainly in their early work), the list goes on. Well, around the time the band's fourth effort Still Life came out and had a more polished sound, it felt as though we were entering a new chapter in their career. While Blackwater Park was a more than solid successor to Still Life, sadly the following two efforts weren't.

Deliverance and Damnation were released to showcase the band's heavy side and light side, respectively. While Deliverance has a few songs similar to Damnation, its main focus is on heavy distorted riffing and an emphasis on Mikael Akerfeldt's inhuman growling. Damnation, on the other hand, was more focused on mellotron-laden 70s progressive rock with a strong emphasis on its melancholic atmosphere. While both albums are terribly flawed, Deliverance seems to be the weaker effort in the long run; why? Well, to get straight to the point, the album is split into two halves. One of them is great; the other one's awful. It's one of the very few albums I've ever heard where it's literally split down the middle in terms of quality, and it makes for an extremely frustrating and ultimately average experience.

The first half is where things really shine; here, we have "Wreath," the title track, and "A Fair Judgement." Every song here exceeds the ten-minute mark, some more deserving of a long length than others. "Wreath" is probably the song that suffers the most from length here, but at least there's enough to keep you on your toes. The beginning riff is definitely an odd way to open up an album for starters; while it has that 12/8 time signature Opeth is obsessed with, the drums are a bit off-kilter when combined with the guitar work. They constantly switch between a weird rhythm with off-beat snare drum placements and the typical swinging rhythm Opeth normally utilize. Anyway, while the beginning sounds quite intimidating, the song quickly goes into a melancholic set of melodic guitar patterns. Unfortunately, this part does go on for a bit too long and even the solos aren't really interesting enough to justify each set of chord changes. Luckily, a pretty nifty speed metal section (!) picks up the pace with a guitar solo that almost sounds middle-eastern in execution. Anyway, the song's flawed but definitely great. The reason so much of this writing was spent on "Wreath" is that the rest of the album is quite similar in style, for better or for worse. The only deviations from this are the more subdued piano-driven "A Fair Judgement" and the interlude "For Absent Friends." The title track, however, is the best example of the Opeth formula done well on this album. With a nice mix between wonderfully dissonant guitar patterns, sorrowful acoustic guitar picking at choice moments, and a healthy amount of tempo changes to spice things up, this song pretty marks the direction the overall album should have taken. The song also showcases Akerfeldt's clean vocals more, since the folkier moments almost always call for them; that's always a plus. The main riff sounds deliciously evil, switching between dissonant guitar melodies in different keys to create a dark and eerie mood. "A Fair Judgement" is the curveball of the album when you get down to it, trading in the growls and overall brutality for a beautiful piano ballad. While it does get louder later on, as power ballads go, the song keeps focus until the very end. Similar to Damnation, this song maintains a consistently sorrowful atmosphere as the cleanly-spaced piano chords are constantly ascending and descending between two keys to create "peaks and valleys" mood-wise. The overall piece is just as well composed as the two that came before it, and serves as a nice conclusion to Side 1.

Unfortunately, here's where the real shit begins. "For Absent Friends," "Master's Apprentices," and "By the Pain I See in Others" are the songs on the second side, and absolutely kill what the album might have been going for. "For Absent Friends," while refreshingly short, doesn't really have a purpose on the album other than being an average interlude. The continuation of the soft ballad-esque ideas from "A Fair Judgement" is nice, though. However, I can't even begin to describe how awful "Master's Apprentices" is. Not only does it just plod and plod and plod, but nothing about it leaves any impression whatsoever. It doesn't have nearly as much atmosphere as the title track, not nearly as much tempo variation as "Wreath," and certainly not nearly as much interest in dynamics as "A Fair Judgement" did. Most of the heavier portion of the song consists of multiple variations on its already-dull main riff, and the band members sound like they're simply going through the motions as there are never any instrumental surprises. The clean vocals around the 4-minute mark at least offer something different from the monotony, but that more-melodic section's very short-lived. As with many of their songs, the middle contains a folkier segment to lighten up the distortion, but it sounds like it could have been switched out with any other acoustic segment Opeth have performed. There's nothing really noteworthy except for some ambient guitar effects that arch over the acoustic strumming. The entire song is just plain horrendous, and it's baffling to me that it's still so acclaimed by the band's fanbase. "By the Pain I See in Others" isn't much better either, as it could have ended around the four-minute mark. Admittedly, the song doesn't start badly at all; in fact, the melodic line kicking it off sounds very inspired and suitably dark. The verses are a little odd, with distorted growling combined with soft acoustic guitar work, and the "choruses" (if you can call them that) are thunderous and almost akin to speed metal with the tempo they shift to. On top of this, the breakdown that follows is absolutely crushing, combining double bass and fast guitar picking with that speed metal-esque tempo mentioned before. However, this is where the song should have ended. The rest of the song is, for lack of a better way to say it, really damn boring. It rehashes all of the ideas from the previous songs and plods at the same time signature throughout. The soft moments are predictable and the heavy moments are extremely repetitive after being constantly thrown in your face.

It's a shame because this could have been one of Opeth's greatest albums. Unfortunately, this goes down as Opeth's worst effort because the second half brings it down completely. Even worse, Damnation isn't much better than this either; it would take the follow-up Ghost Reveries to get the band back on track before it was too late. As for this album, it's completely average; just download the first half and forget about the rest of it.
A fair judgement of this album... avoid if you do not like death metal growls and noise.

This is the album I checked out immediately after being blown away by Damnation. After having my ears caressed by the haunting progressive tones of Akerfeldt and co, imagine my disdain when confronted with this ear bleeding assault. Akerfeldt sounds like he has been swallowing gravel for breakfast, and there is way too much death metal growls, it never stops. Now, this might be fine for those out there who still think this is the way to present metal. in that case, try Morbid Angel or Sepultura.

Opeth are capable of great beauty and a balance of some death metal mixed with quieter moments works brilliantly. It has been done on subsequent albums BlackWater Park, and Ghost Reveries and Still Life and the latest and greatest Heritage is all the better for omitting the vomiting caustic vocals all together. The problem I have with this album is that I cannot stand an overabundance of death metal growls and therefore can never rate this album on a personal level more than 2 stars. However it has merit if you are into that style but count me out. For Absent Friends and A Fair Judgement are quieter moments but it is still not enough to enthrall me.

This is the worst Opeth album I have ever been inundated with. The songs are ridiculously long and boring with forgettable riffs and huge chunks of kanoodling for the sake of it, almost fillers of fillers. Wreath clocks 11:10; Deliverance 13:36 and By The Pain I See In Others almost 14 minutes, but nothing really happens in these tracks, just one repetitive riff after another and a bunch of screaming juvenile nonsense. Long songs need some diversity and I had trouble getting into any of this. There are a few shining moments but they are ruined with the abysmal growling and headache inducing distortion. Opeth are capable of brilliance but they are totally in the dark with this morbid mess.

Phonebook Eater
One of Opeth’s most loved and at the same time hated albums, I thought I was going to hate it, and already with my first listen I wasn’t satisfied. But “Deliverance”, after it grows on you, is a great album, which was totally unexpected by this reviewer.

The music here is probably the heaviest Opeth has ever done, even though there are many soft moments. The production in this album is really good, with excellent mixing concerning all the instruments. The guitars have never sounded this clean and precise, not even the big classic albums have such an amazing quality. The musicianship is as well excellent; Mikael Akerfeldt’s singing is at it’s peak, Martin Lopez’s drumming is very virtuous and unique as well as the impressive bass playing by Martin Mandez. Basically, the musicianship here is really good.

Fans shouldn’t have worried about Opeth changing their sound, because it didn’t at all, unlike “Watershed”, six years later. We still got the Akerfeldt death growls that accompany the strong, dark, vigorous guitar riffs, which are then developed by constant time changes so that at the end of the song we have this beautiful and perfect collage of pieces and ideas, very effectively put together into one composition. This explains the fact that they are six tracks here, almost all of them ten minutes or so. The softer parts are very much present, and can dominate a good half of a song, even though “Deliverance” is arguably the band’s heaviest and most metal influenced record. What makes it original in my opinion is the surprisingly frequent technical moments, something that also never occurs in an Opeth album; the rhythms in particular can be very complex and somewhat spectacular in many parts.

Many songs are worth mentioning, like the long title track, almost thirteen of heavy riffs mixed with some more rockish influences here and there. “A Fair Judgement” is a beautiful, slower song, with a haunting melody an element that Opeth is so good at doing. “Masters Apprentice” is a perfect example of the band’s elevation in heaviness. “By The Pain I See In Others” is probably the most complex song of the album, the song with most time changes; sometimes it’s not as gripping as you would wish it would be. But I love the obvious increase of experimentation here, thanks to the wider use of keys.

Overall a great album, every metal head in my opinion should take this under consideration. I loved it.
Back in 2002, Deliverance was as a big disappointment to me after the stellar albums that preceded. I had come to know Opeth in 2001 and had devoured their entire back catalogue in no time. Resulting in playing "MAYH", "Still Life" and "Blackwater Park" on almost endless repeat. I thought Deliverance to be a few leagues behind but I’ve recently found my peace with it.

First of all, the tracks "A Fair Judgement" and especially "Deliverance" have been instant Opeth classics from the very start, 5 star stuff. But also "Wreath" is really impressing. Admitted, it sits closer to the death metal of Bloodbath then to regular Opeth but it is an entirely strong composition. I saw them perform it live in NYC (May 2009, in a nice package with Enslaved!) and it has kind of stuck ever since.

After the most impressive first 35 minutes, the level nevertheless decreases. "Master's Apprentices" has a rather monotonous start, both repetitive and gruff but not intense enough, just brutal without much emotion. It evolves into a nice piece once the clean vocals kick in. "By The Pain I See In Others" leaves a similar mixed impression. Especially the sinister vocal effect in the first verses and most of the grunting doesn't do much for me here

Opeth wanted to separate their heavy side from their mellow side with this album and its companion "Damnation". It led to magnificent results on "Damnation" but it reflected badly on "Deliverance". In fact, the only two tracks that entirely satisfy me have the typical heavy/mellow balance that we've come to like Opeth for. It's far from a disaster, but still far below the surrounding albums for me.
What a strange album by Opeth. Whereas vast majority of bands choose their best song to start the record, they've chosen the weakest. And I don't mean it is a weak song in general, it's just weak for Opeth standards. Because, in contrast to many Opeth critics, I consider DELIVERANCE a fantastic release.

The title track is, in my opinion, a real beginning of the record. This, one of the best Opeth songs, built upon disharmonious sound of tritones, is absolutely brilliant in terms of rhythm, progressiveness, passion and lyrics. Masterpiece in the full sense of the word! The end of the song is so amazing that I often listen to these last minutes only, skipping the rest, which is actually great. That's absolutely amazing culmination, based on one chord and captivating rhythm.

As the whole, DELIVERANCE is an album more severe in term of sound than BLACKWATER PARK, it is heavier and above all it is the most rhythm-based Opeth' album. Martin Lopez playing is amazingly understated - without additional showing off - yet very powerful and unique. The rhythms are intriguing and become embedded in the memory for a long time. With this release Martin proved his incredible feeling for drumming.

It's a great album, full of moving passages, fantastic guitar harmonies and rhythms. Still, it is not a perfect creation, even if such songs as Deliverance, Master's Apprentices and By the Pain I See in Others are absolutely breathtaking. Unfortunately, Wreath spoils the fun and takes points off.

Tracks ratings: 10/10: Deliverance; Master's Apprentices 9/10: By the Pain I See in Others 8/10: A Fair Judgement 6/10: Wreath
Conor Fynes
'Deliverence' - Opeth (6/10)

This album, despite it's technical prowess, has never struck me as anything beyond 'average.' It's more or less a death metal record. While I am a fan of extreme metal, I lean more towards prog. This album has little progressive influence. Songs like 'Wreath' and 'Master's Apprentices' while being very heavy and good metal pieces, are simply too enveloped with a more typical death metal sound then we're used to from a band as innovative as Opeth.

However, this collection of songs is not without it's merits. The title track for instance is fantastic, and one of the most solid songs by the band. 'Deliverence' also has one of the greatest outros I've ever heard in a song; the last four minutes of the song form together to make a truly epic end. A dark lyrical acoustic section leads into what could possibly be the most intense Opeth material ever recorded. As an oddity of the album, the outro is actually incredibly progressive, and uses multiple guitar layers to carve out a deep, heavy, and atmospheric musical texture. If anything in this album is ever listened to, it should be the last four and a half minutes of 'Deliverence.'

That's the thing about the album. There are some fantastic parts, where the focus on heaviness and straightforward antics really, really works. For instance, the last three minutes of 'Wreath' are breathtaking, as well as the acoustic interlude in 'Master's Apprentices.' The only song that really does not work is 'The Pain I See In Others,' which besides an interesting title, is probably my least favourite Opeth song.

This album is generally seen as the low point of Opeth's career, and while that may or may not be true, there's still some stuff that's worth exploring in this album. Very heavy, and worth a look if you're into death metal.
Deliverance is one of Opeth's heaviest albums, which is the excact opposite of Damnation, which was released just slightly after it. Many people accuse the album of not doing anything new, having bad songwriting and being kind of blank. I don't agree with any of these, and I think Deliverance is a very good piece of music. It is slightly more straight forward than most other Opeth releases, and does have some sort of cheesy sounding riffs, but what's important that it all is done very well, resulting in a very enjoyable record. The album opens with the rough "Wreath". A more typical metal song that's not as progressive as most of Opeth's songs. It also is one of their heaviest, featuring lots of heavy, distorted guitar playing and growling vocals. It is by no means a bad track, though far from the bands best. The title track, "Deliverance" is a much more excellent composition. The song is very progressive, as it combines heavy parts with softer parts, and has some very technical musicianship in it. The final minutes are absolutely wonderful, and among the best Opeth has ever done. Just as much as "Deliverance" I enjoy "Master's Apprentices", that just like "Wreath" is less progressive than most Opeth has done. The song starts of incredibly heavy, with a typical metal riff and double bass druming. After a while it becomes more variated and mellow though, which results in a very enjoyable song.

"A Fair Judgement" is a softer track, though still having its louder moments. The song features a nice piano intro, but the song doesn't reach the greatness of "Master's Apprentices" and the title track. "For Absent Friends" is a short instrumental interlude. It gives us a soft break from all the roughness on the album, and is a nice little piece. Unfortunately the album isn't all good. "By The Pain I See In Others" is a song I don't like at all. The opening riff sounds terribly annoying, and although being pretty diverse, the song doesn't do anything to me at all. A very weak ending of an excellent album.

Apart from the final track the album is full of good music. It isn't the bands best effort, but it definately is enjoyable and has some brilliant moments. I would recommend this album to anybody who likes the heaviest side of Opeth and doesn't mind a some less progressive metal than an album like Blackwater Park. An excellent album.

Members reviews

Blackwater Park was the seminal piece for Opeth and was always going to be a very difficult act to follow up with. To the bands credit, they knew that going with a Blackwater Park 2 would not have been the right decision. The result was the creation of two albums, Damnation and this one, Deliverance, that showcased the separate sides of Opeth. Damnation, released a year after Deliverance, showed up the bands lighter, softer side but on here, its an all out attack. If anything, though, this album is a bit of a step back, reminiscent of the bands first two albums, Orchid and Morningrise, more than any of their others, though it has the clear and precise production of Steven Wilson behind it. The songs are all long, most over 10 minutes, and the softer and acoustic side of the band is kept to a minimum here with the heavy metal intensified over what they normally do. The result is the heaviest and most brutal album in Opeth's discography. In itself, this wouldn't actually be a bad thing but the problem is, it hasn't been executed too well, the main problem being the length of the songs. With the exception of For Absent Friends, which is less than 2:30s, the songs are all at least several minutes too long, normally the result of one or two sections per song (quite often around 2/3ds of the way through the song) being extend far past their usefulness. Another point is that atmosphere is in short supply on here. My Arms, Your Hears, Still Life and Blackwater Park are all brilliant albums because of the tangibly melancholic atmosphere to them, yet this is completely lacking here, like they made no attempt to go for it. It may be that they didn't want to, at least not in a similar way to previously, but they were exceptional at it so the sudden dropping off of this quality in their music is keenly felt. My one other main gripe is that Master's Apprentice was set up to be a classic song in Opeth's repertoire, but was ruined by the excessive and tasteless over indulgence in the double-bass drumming at the start, something that is so out of touch with what the other three musicians are doing that I cant help but wander if Martin Lopez was paying attention at all. The first crack in his armour that led to him leaving the band, perhaps?

It would be a bit disingenuous to say this was a terrible album, because there are several parts of wonderful music, for instance Master's Apprentice is largely a very good song, as is Wreath and Deliverance, but there isn't a single full length track on here without some kind of flaw to it, whether it be overextended sections or inappropriate playing. I touched on the lack of atmosphere earlier and the major cause of its absence, I believe, is the fact that Damnation and Deliverance should never have been recorded as they were. Opeth's brilliance comes entirely from contrasts between heavy and soft, smooth and coarse, and separating out these two aspects has not led to excellent music, in both cases you feel like something is missing. I rate Deliverance less than Damnation simply because it has more problems, but neither gets much listening from me.

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