"Blackwater Park" produced, Opeth was obviously on a roll, and the band made sure to keep up with the momentum. To do so, the Swedes opted to quickly enter Studio Fredman once again, this time to make a double album release, something that their current record company, peaceville records, was not willing to do. So it became a compromise, the double album was split into two separate records that were released 5 months apart, both being recorded at the same time.
We will eventually get into the twin brother "Damnation", but first up was "Deliverance", a pretty sensible follow up to "Blackwater Park" that saw the band continuing with their unique style of progressive metal. This album focused on the long version of the band, containing only six songs, and all of them (except for a small instrumental titled "For Absent Friends") were over the ten minute mark, making "Deliverance" pretty meaty with a solid run time of just over an hour.
This album is also one of the band's heavier efforts, almost completely ignoring their rock influences that has become such a vital part for them. It is kind of a risky move that surely makes this and "Damnation" a nice double dipper in a long listening session, but on its own, it becomes a little stale. Not to say that this album is a complete waste, the quality is surely there, and it definitely sounds like Opeth from start to finish, but it just does not have that gut wrenching punch that normally turns a good Opeth record into a magnificent one.
As said though, there is still a lot to like about "Deliverance", especially the title track that is just pure Opeth candy. The second half is almost purely instrumental, with a really catchy rhythm as the main star, digging deeper and deeper into your brain for every cycle it repeats. That song is worth the price of admission alone, but there is a lot of great instrumentation in this album, you just need the patience to find it, because they are mostly buried in the middle or end of the songs. Some of the best bits can be found in both "Wreath" and "A Fair Judgement", making the first half of the album really excellent. Of course, Mikael does another stellar vocal effort too, but this is his most anonymous performance to date.
But even if the album is only six songs long, I still find two that are more or less unnecessary. The short instrumental "For Absent Friends" has no real meaning to it besides giving a comfortable break, and while "Master's Apprentices" is a fairly nice track, it take an obscene amount of time to get somewhere. I am all about opening long songs slowly, but this is just flat out ridiculous. Then we have the ending song "By The Pain I See In Others", which has the opposite problem, the final four minutes is more or lest silence, which is not a good way to end an album. Still really like the song though.
Ultimately though, "Deliverance" is a neat little album that has some good Opeth magic to it, but I do not think it is enough of it for it to be able to match the band's previous works. The rift between the first and second half is quite big, and only getting 5 and a half songs is not really worth it in the end. Still, there is enough meat on the bone to really appreciate what Opeth did here. After all, it is the first half of a double header, with the second one promising some more proggy goodness from the Swedes. A nice appetizer for what is hopefully the main course.
Songs worthy of recognition: Deliverance, Wreath, A Fair Judgement
Rating: 7/10 Absent Friends
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