Opeth might as well have just called their latest release, Deliverance, “We’re So Fucking Good That All Other Bands Should Stop Trying To Make Music.” They could have then subtitled it, “We Really Mean It. You Can’t Compete. In Fact, We Got Another Record Coming Out in March so Fuck You. Cut Your Hands Off.” Seriously, I don’t even know what to say about this record, because it is so fucking amazing. Because of my recommendation, a guy on a music mailing list I subscribe to bought Deliverance and listened to it eight times in a row. Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant.

OK, let me pull back for a second. Catch my breath. Is there anything that distinguishes Deliverance from other Opeth releases, such as Still Life or Blackwater Park? Yes. Unlike the overwhelming majority of metal fools out there, Opeth are just not content to rehash what they have done in the past. Remember how otherworldly and demonic Åckerfeldt’s vocals used to sound? They are even more intense now. He is using some sort of effect processor to scare you even more. Truly evil, and it sounds great. In addition, the chorus parts where he sings all pretty are better, too. In fact, there is even a guy doing backing vocals (Steven Wilson). Surprisingly, a first for Opeth. Actually, if these guys came out with a fucking reggae record I wouldn’t be surprised. The rest of the world would be though, because it would be better than all the other reggae records ever made. Times ten.

But it is not just that. For a long time Opeth has been the black metal band that comes out of insanely heavy parts and then breaks into pretty, acoustic sections. Well, it’s not just the guitars anymore. There are some measures where über-drummer extraordinaire Martin Lopez climbs off his kit and does some hand percussion. Yeah, that’s right percussion. The scourge of almost all world music and “soulful” bands (Dude, we’ve got a percussionist!) is put to excellent use right in the middle of Wreath, the first track on the album.

So, to summarize, the hard parts are harder and much more Satan-infused. The soft parts are dreamier and even more relaxing. Combined, Opeth flexes its ridiculously limber muscles and serves up what is easily one of the best records you will hear all year. All hail the dark kings. That’s about the jist of it.

I’m kidding.

The real story of Deliverance is the emergence of drummer Martin Lopez as the biggest ass kicking motherfucker to sit behind a trap set since the mighty Hellhammer himself. Seriously, Lopez’s performance on Deliverance is numbing. There are lots of parts where he is laying down the requisite double kick lines, but instead of just doing straight beats with his hands, he is playing chops totally counter to his what his feet are doing. He is so good it is stupid. During track #5, “Master’s Apprentices,” Lopez is actually doing the equivalent of a snare roll – with his feet!

But nothing, and I mean nothing can prepare you for what happens at the ten-minute mark of “Deliverance,” the album’s title track. Everyone I’ve played this part for, even people who say idiotic things like, “I hate bands that sing like that,” shut their fucking mouths and listen in disbelief to what these guys are doing. Well, they stop talking at least. Usually their jaws hang slack and their eyes bug out or go cross or something. I’m going to do my best to describe what happens. Opeth goes into a part where this ludicrously tight, heavy and syncopated riff that involves double bass blasts, odd timing and repetitions of five is going on. And, they play a counter melody to it! If any other band had come up with this particular rhythm (No one else could, I know, but bare with me) they would have been content to just play it. But as you listen, you will notice that not only is Lopez playing the main, off-time stuff, but that in the background he’s got a third arm or something banging away keeping it all in 4/4. It just doesn’t even make sense. No one can be that good. No one that is, but Lopez and his band, Opeth.

Ruthless Ratings

  • Buy It or Burn It: Buy It. And then burn down a church. Oh wait, that’s Norway…
  • Qualify It: 10
  • True or False: Opeth has another record coming out in March of ’03 called, Damnation – True
  • Should you listen for the backwards, really Satanic stuff after the last song is finished: Yes
  • Go see these inverted and blasphemous fools play live Opeth.com
  • Do you think Opeth is really going to do a reggae record: No
  • Were you wearing pants when you wrote this review: No
  • Do you know why there is a little midget lying on the pillow on the front cover: Maybe
About Jonny Lieberman

Jonny was the site’s co-founder and helped carry the place in the early years. There was a falling out with Erich and he left the site for good, but a lot of his reviews live on. He has moved on to a successful career writing about cars. Look him up.