Opeth - Deliverance & DamnationDeliverance has the honor of being my least favorite Opeth album prior to the release of Watershed. At the time, I was still seeing the band frequently on the road and enjoyed the records well enough, but I have to admit that I was much more a fan of Damnation than Deliverance. Early on I suggested that this may be due to the fact that the majority of the band’s best acoustic material was saved for the acoustic record. But as the years went on, I think realized that I always felt like the songwriting was choppier on Deliverance, a critique I later made of both Watershed and Heritage. After buying the remixes of Damnation and Deliverance released at the end of 2015 and reading Mikael Åkerfeldt’s liner notes, I have to say that I feel mollified.

Åkerfeldt’s description—while vague—paints a picture which makes the ultimate end of the ‘classic’ lineup of Opeth as starting in the production of the aborted double record. Deliverance was a painful album to make, and much of it was pieced together at the last minute in the studio. According to this narrative, Andy Sneap essentially saved the album. It’s interesting to think that the outward face of the band didn’t break during this incredible stress, but after Ghost Reveries, things basically fell apart and it’s hard not to hear the album from this perspective.

Another issue with Deliverance—though it’s certainly not unique to the album—is that it’s a production (job) of its time. Andy Sneap was one of the premier producers of his time, but his sound was also one of those that defined how metal records sounded in the mid-aughts—onions on our belts and all. Deliverance was a loud record, but I’ve never thought it was a record that sounded bad or that the sound had somehow lessened my enjoyment of the album. I liked it fine, even if I thought it was weak compared to the records before it and its immediate predecessor.

Opeth - Deliverance Inlay

In the capable hands of Bruce Soord,1 however, I got to hear Deliverance again and it felt like hearing it for the first time. And that listening experience starts with drums. The opening fill of “Wreath” was the first indication that something had changed; the toms bubble under Lopez’s drumsticks before giving way to the offbeats on the snare for which the opening riff is known. The snare—ghost notes and all!—is snappy and full. When the band launches into its lilting 6/8 swing, you can feel Mendez’s bass in your bones as it pulses alongside Lopez’s ride and cavernous toms. Another noticeable difference, here, is the location of Åkerfeldt’s growls in the mix; with all the space available to him, Soord drops them quite a bit further back, giving the rhythm section so much room. And this doesn’t stop here: the fills on “A Fair Judgement” (well, and every other song) sound magical, and the hand drums he plays throughout the album absolutely shine—full-bodied and dynamic.

“Wreath” is but one example, of course. The whole album is filled with amazing moments of discovery; rather than polished, compressed, and tight, Deliverance sounds almost trashy and live. Clean parts with drums—like the first one in the title track—have so much more punch and dynamics, lurching along in ways I didn’t remember. Songs I don’t think I ever even liked—”By the Pain I See in Others”—remade with better sound and a DR of 14(!) shine. One of the things that really stands out to me while listening to it, too, is how Opeth‘s sound is a beautiful paradox. Part of what they’re doing is this lilting death metal, with groovy riffs and fat bass walking under (or, well, in this mix, alongside) Åkerfeldt’s growls. But when stripped down, the acoustic work is so minimalist in comparison. Of course, on a DR7 master (which, unfortunately the CD version of the Deliverance & Damnation re-issue that I purchased was…), you feel the tonal changes, but Soord deftly handles these dynamic changes by letting the quiets get really quiet and letting the death metal overpower you when it slams back in. Giving Deliverance this live feel makes you feel like you’re sitting in their practice room and it’s a feeling that makes the album shine.

Opeth 2002

I could probably wax poetic about details for hours, but the shining example for me is the amount of space given to something I absolute didn’t remember even being on Deliverance: ambient noise. Throughout, there are these moments when notes sustain—sometimes they distort, other times they just hold—for way longer than I remembered. In “Deliverance,” “By the Pain I See in Others” and “Wreath,” the ends of guitar solos are held out in ways that they weren’t in the original release. This might seem like a small thing, but it’s the small things that forge Deliverance anew. It’s the vibrating bass, the ghost notes on the drums, the genuine rumble of the double kick, the emptiness of space around the acoustic parts in contrast with the massive sound of the death metal parts that all make this remix superior to the original. Letting the noise take up the space it was given in the studio seems small, but it has huge effects by exemplifying the broad spectrum of sound here, while adding a live feel to the whole endeavor that Deliverance simply lacked.

I have never recommended more highly that you purchase a vinyl version of an album. Buy it. But I want to be perfectly clear: it is absolutely tragic that this magical re-master was saved for the group of people who purchase vinyl. Opeth‘s vinyl sells out at a legendary pace and I cannot fathom why the band or their label would not want this out there being listened to by fans. Bruce Soord’s remaster of Deliverance makes me want him to remix the entire discography of Opeth. Hearing these albums with this kind of fidelity feels like scales falling from my eyes. Come to the light, my children.

Show 1 footnote

  1. I somehow got it in my head that Wilson had done this but it was Bruce Soord. How the fuck I made that mistake I’m not sure, but it’s just straight up wrong. I have corrected everything and am still amazed, it sounds brilliant!

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  • Tragic, indeed. Going to start hoarding the life savings to get a copy.

  • holythunderforcebatman

    Bruce Soord did the Deliverance mix, SW did the Damnation mix.

    • mtlman1990

      Ya. Bruce did a nice job.

      • holythunderforcebatman

        I was very impressed.

    • This got super fixed and I think I even knew this. I am shocked it made it this far. To quote the shop teacher from UHF: “Is my face red?”

      • holythunderforcebatman

        Tight!

  • mtlman1990

    Bought.

  • Dion Ka

    Not to be mean by any stretch but you might revisit the text for typos. Nonetheless great review and I will sure buy it!

    • I just did a close re-reading and found like 3 pretty small things. I guess it’s good that our editorial standards are high enough that this is considered sloppy.

      This got a bit rushed and it’s possible that the crisis about accidentally writing “Steven Wilson” and not “Bruce Soord” caused a bit of distraction.

  • Vault

    Have to say the Deliverance mix is a complete trainwreck. The sterile, dry atmosphere of the original is part of what made it so emotionally despondent and menacing. That’s gone in the booming, uneven mix presented on this new edition.

    • I disagree so fucking hard.

      • Vault

        Fair enough, haha. I’m glad someone did enjoy it, really. It just isn’t for me. The booming drum sound is overbearing and really distracting. That was the final straw on the new mix.

        • Oh god it’s so good. It’s perfect. This is exactly how bands sound and you can hear the reverb and ghost notes and it’s so fucking good.

          • mtlman1990

            He’s not used to dynamics being in a mix.

          • I’m having the opposite problem. I’m finding that things that don’t sound live get more and more on my nerves. I like shit to bubble and pop. “Sterile” is about the biggest turn off I can think of when it comes to production.

          • Philip Pledger

            “I like shit to bubble and pop.”

            That’s a rather uniquely unpleasant mental image. Eww.

          • I read that afterward and loled. Then I left it.

          • SegaGenitals

            Needs more cowbell.

    • El_Cuervo

      I kiiiiiiinda get what you mean about the original production. But I still prefer the depth and complexity afforded by this ‘remix’.

      • Me too, but the clean singing parts (the piercing sounds you make..) in the title song are sketchy, I’d say – in the 320kbps Spotify version at least. Too much echo? I’m relistening the old version and I really don’t know which one I prefer. The drums in the new version sound so fucking crispy and nice, but the clean voice.. I’m not sure.

    • Boter

      Just listened to it the first time (Spotify) and I tend to agree with you, at least for the heavy parts. Deliverance is probably my all time favourite Opeth album (making me an absolute minority, i realise) and also the very last album they made I still listen to regularly. Everthing after is overkeyboardized humdrum imho. (Why oh why oh why did they ever decide to get keys? WHY?!)

      And just the cold, storm-of-the-lights-bany eerieness of the original was exactly what made it such a compelling record. This cymbal-overloadededness is very detrimental to that effect. I have to listen to it a couple of times to make it sink in. But that bloody hi-hat is rrreally getting on my nerves, so I’m going to do that tomorrow.

  • Kalsten

    Can the “vinyl version” be bought digitally? I have no vynil player, and I really don’t like physical copies of albums either.

    • No, it can’t and it’s a fucking travesty.

      • Kalsten

        So, it is not the same than the Deliverance & Damnation remix that is in Spotify? I though they were the same.

        • Same mix, different master.

          • RDGEEK

            Well that’s at least something, right?

          • Sure. The master on the CD is just not as good.

          • Listened to the Digital version, and I am more than impressed. It sounds like a completely different record, even if it’s compressed to hell.

    • Tom Hardy

      It’s a vinyl only re-master. Your question is thereby nugatory.

  • tomasjacobi

    Let’s not forget to give credit to Jaime Gomez Arellano for doing a wonderful dynamic, analogue mastering for the vinyl.
    Also, let’s not forget to shout angrily at the same Jaime Gomez Arellano for overcompressing the digital master…

    • Tardsmat

      I thought that out of all bands, at least opeth could get it right. Looks like i was wrong. The CD master still sounds pretty great tho.

      • tomasjacobi

        I agree that the new mix also sounds very good on the CD version even though it’s too compressed.
        It’s just hard not to feel frustrated when you’ve heard the vinyl with the full dynamic range intact…

  • beurbs

    Well I guess I gotta research Soord now and get all his shit

  • Luke_22

    Need to get myself a copy of this asap. Stoked to hear the difference is really noticeable. Fingers crossed he gets on board and works the same magic on all the Opeth albums. While it has never been a favourite of mine I’ve always been a fan of Deliverance. Very underrated album.

  • One More Thing

    Damnation was the first Opeth album that I ever heard. While I’ve always liked that one more, I did grow to enjoy Deliverance quite a bit. Your review makes me want to purchase the vinyl in a big way, but alas, I’m a CD guy and I have no other vinyl records or even a vinyl player. I guess I’m gonna have to sit this one out.

  • Tom Hardy

    I have a record player but don’t have the slightest inkling to own this. The irony. Opeth has the distinction of being a band that’s continued to suck from their first record … so that makes it Orchid to whatever they’re up to these days.

    • Pimpolho

      I really like Morningrise, but apart from that, i agree with you. Pretty overrated. Don’t let AMG see this, though.

    • SegaGenitals

      Not an Opeth fan? Now I am more glad that Leo killed you in The Revenant. ;)

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        Fuck man spoilers!! I still haven’t seen it!

        • SegaGenitals

          My bad. No real surprise though, right?

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            I just hope the bear doesn’t get hurt.

          • Would it be too much to bear?

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            These puns are bearly worth reading

          • SegaGenitals

            Guess you’ll have to grin and bear it.

          • SegaGenitals

            Leo has the right to bear arms.

          • SegaGenitals

            It is a bear necessity.

        • This isn’t really a spoiler. The ending still can surprise you;)

      • Tom Hardy

        Jeez what vitriol, I hope you continue to support my movies like the time you enjoyed Mad Max.

        • SegaGenitals

          1979 The Mel Gibson film?

          • Tom Hardy

            Touche. Well played my friend.

    • You’re missing out, Mr. Hardy.

  • SegaGenitals

    Even with the quality on Spotify i can tell the mix is much improved, and I am no audiophile.

  • SHUT UP AND TAKE MY…
    Wait, I have to save my money now. For a damn turntable :(

  • Carlos Marrickvillian

    They should make this digitally available, it really seems totally crazy not to!
    Never my favourite Opeth album, very much eclipsed by Damnation for me but I’d still really like to hear it a new.
    There are definitely some moments that Im thinking would be nice to hear the ‘roomy’ mix / master off. Like the small percussive breakdown in wreath and the atmospheric guitar noises in Deliverance.
    But I’m not going to fork out for the vinyl :(

    • Thatguy

      I agree with everything you have written.

      But a really nice review AMG and if anything could persuade me to go back to vinyl it would be this. But it’s not going to happen.

    • Tom Hardy

      They shouldn’t out of sheer principle in the fact that it’s a VINYL ONLY re-master. Sorry mate, here’s a good ol banana sundae to cheer ya up.

      • Carlos Marrickvillian

        I think the principle of going back to old work and improving it should be to make it more accessible to their broad base of fans who’ve probably already spent money on this album.
        Not just the ones that can afford additional limited edition vinyl releases. A band like Opeth needs to be careful not to abandon it’s fans.
        Hmmm Banana sundae, is dish best served cold…with ice cream and chocolate syrup :)

        • Hulksteraus

          And revenge! Don’t forget the sprinkle of revenge on that banana sundae… :)

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            Sure am! I’m taking my 11 year old too. If you see a a couple of fellas with a kid come and say hi!

            Homebush where the gig is, is a bit of a dull neighbourhood. I’d recommend the inner west.
            Newtown / Chippendale / Redfern / Marrickville.
            Redfern is a pretty happening neighbourhood these days with lots of bars and restaurants. and you can walk to the city and get to the beaches in east easily enough too. Newtown has overtaken Kings Cross as the late night party area in Sydney too

          • Hulksteraus

            Yeah, haven’t lived in Sydney for 11 years. Will be catching the train. Just couldn’t remember which line. Will look out for a couple of fellas with a kid. Should be easy to find a couple of fellas with a kid in a crowd of potential fellas with kids ?

          • Carlos Marrickvillian

            We’ll be wearing black…

  • Christian P

    I’ve read some reviews saying the packaging is horrible: 3 LPs in one sleeve and flimsy cardboard. While I would buy this simply for the awesome music, I think Id be really bothered if the packaging was shit. Any experiences with this?

    • Andy777

      Yes, the packaging is pure garbage, probably the worst I’ve ever seen. The vinyl however, does indeed sound terrific.

    • Excentric_13073

      I have one cardboard sleeve, and 3 LP’s in individual sleeves. It’s not great. That said, the physical vinyl is a step above, it looks like 200 gram?

  • Diego Molero

    Anyone knows what is Opeth up to? I see a photo like if they were anouncing something soon. What is that?

    • I’d say a tour. They sorta announced their last tour the same way.

      • Diego Molero

        Oh. I was hoping for something different, I live in South America so they are definitely not coming here, no band comes here

        • They were in South America last year. But yeah, it’s a big continent and tours that go there usually have just a few dates.

          • Diego Molero

            Yeah but I live in Venezuela, so no, they are not coming here

          • Ah, that sucks.

  • Kyle Mitchell

    Never understood why Opeth fans are down on Deliverance. I may have a soft spot because I discovered Opeth with this album, and the title track in particular. To me the title track is in my top 10 songs of all time across all genres I listen to. I also happen to like By the Pain I See in Others (which is universally reviled by everyone), but I like the eerie death vocals in the verses and the song is heavy as fuck. To each is own.

    • Carlos Marrickvillian

      It’s a good question!
      Deliverance and A Fair Judgement are two of my favourite Opeth songs and yeah Deliverance might even make an all time fav metal song list too. But I don’t think I’ve ever valued the album as I have with Orchid, BWP, Ghost Reveries or Damnation.
      I’ve just loaded it up (non remixed / mastered version) and will give it a good few listens, and see if my position changes.

    • The title track is easily one of my favorite Opeth songs (and a great closer at a lot of their shows). By the Pain ISIO is great. But as an album, Deliverance is not. I have the same feeling as AMG: until what came after, it was my least favorite (but man did they made up with Pale Communion). Deliverance has too many dead moments. Wreath seems nice, but that triple time segment is too long and awkward. Masters Apprentice is repetitive and a bit boring. A Fair Judgment is a great way to loose momentum, and For Absent Friends does that again. The writing is just off. Also compared to what came before, man, Still Life (the album that I discovered them with, so soft spots all the way) might’ve been a bit rough on the edges, but the atmosphere, tempo and idea are much better forged. Blackwater Park is their best if you ask me. Totally unique, their best songwriting. And although Im not such a big fan of Ghost Reveries (I still think it can’t compete with BWP although it sounds like they tried to), thats still a fucking awesome album. Deliverance has two great, great songs, but thats about it.

      Ah someone below points out that the album sounds lifeless. Thats very much on point. I’m not sure I think the new mix fixes that completely, but it helps.

    • I always thought the writing was simply less imaginative and cohesive. I stand by it, but I gotta say that it does sound miiiighty fucking good and I’ve been listening to it a ton. And I do like “By the Pain I See in Others” way better. Interestingly, read Åkerfedlt’s liner notes. He also actually doesn’t like the song and says in the notes that the remix made him like it better.

      • Does he comment song by song in the vinyl version?

    • Hammersmith

      It’s definitely not my favourite Opeth album, but I would take it over anything they have put out since. Except MAYBE Ghost Reveries, but that album I never regarded as being that great – its only been in recent years w/ Watershed-Pale Communion I’ve come to appreciate it a lot more.

  • ARGH.

    This sounds amazing, but why limit your audience? :(

    A digital release would be great, but hell, I’d even buy the damn CD again (for the second time after my original CD developed a crack somehow) if it had this mix.

    • tomasjacobi

      The CD version does have the same mix (+ surround mixes if you care for that stuff) and it’s definitely worth getting even though it’s mastered louder than the vinyl.

  • Wilhelm

    I always ranked Deliverance at the bottom of the list because of the dry mix and lifeless metal guitar sound. Soord did a fantastic job remixing this, kind of like listening to a new album. I still think the songwriting pales in comparison to the rest of their discog (up until and including Ghost Reveries) but it’s at least a more pleasant listening experience.

  • This guy should re-do the latest Baroness record.

  • Innit Bartender

    When I think Deliverance I think the beginning of the solo in Fair Judgement. That scale always gives me the chills. It’s the perfect meeting point of Steve Hackett and Chuck Schuldiner. So melodic. It’s one of my favourite solos ever.
    I must admit the album has more of a sentimental value for me than a really musical one. Damnation is a cornerstone of my life, but Deliverance is just an album, a good one of course but…

  • Vince Rayner

    Just ordered the vinyl £28 on Amazon – hope it’s worth it?

  • I did my homework and listened to CD version. I have to admit, I like more the original mix (sounds more cohesive to me, especially vocals), though I appreciate clarity of drums and overall “liveliness” in new version. Nice to hear all these ghost notes. I’m sure that listening to this on vinyl must be delicious experience.
    But I can’t notice any differences between Damnation mixes. Only 5.1 is new, or SW did also new stereo mix and I am deaf? (I wonder why would he do that in the first place – original CD sounds super-crisp, it shines on my system. When vocals enter in “Death Whispered a Lullaby”, it’s like Mikael himself is hiding behind my desk. I can almost grab that sound with my hand).

  • drocmerej

    The only reason I can see why “this magical re-master is saved for the group of people who purchase vinyl” is the will to perpetuate the myth that “vinyl sounds better than CD (and download…) ” and thus make vinyl special (….) It must be an international conspiracy ;-) !

  • If there has been one vinyl remaster I encourage any of you to hear (and review) it’s Be’Lakor’s vinyl re-mix and reissue of “Stone’s Reach”. Not only is it that bands best album *IMO*, but its a significant improvement that even I can hear! :)

  • Bought this remix at the end of last year after really enjoying Opeth’s Ghost Reveries live show. Also I stopped paying attention to the band after Blackwater Park and kind of missed everything between that one and Watershed. So this remix was released at a good moment for me to listen to two of the albums I missed, with a new and modern mix. I must say, it’s great to hear these two albums as if they were new and just released, not really knowing anything about the original mixes.

  • Gabriel Martin

    This disc is digitally available in the double cd+dvd deliverance and damnation that came out last year. The cd and dvd for deliverance was remastered by Bruce Soord, the cd and dvd for damnation by Steven Wilson. Both dvds have an dts and 5.1 dolby, apart from the LPCM mix.

    • But the master is not available. That’s a different digital master.

      • razerwolf

        The 5.1 DTS version sounded great to me, is that really the inferior master? Dang.

        • I’ve not reviewed the 5.1. I don’t have the equipment for it.

  • BRUCE SOORD FOR PRESIDENT 2016

  • RDGEEK

    Sorry, I’m still not 100% clear about what is on the CD/DVD discs. Why are DVDs included? There are four discs in total, but there’s no video content in the package, correct? Instead, the DVDs hold another audio mix of some sort?

  • Vadym Semenov

    I might miss something therefore, could you please clarify the following:
    – whether the fact that CD and vinyl have different masters has been confirmedstated anywhere or it’s just the mere assumption?;
    – according to the article: “…”By the Pain I See in Others”—remade with better sound and a DR of 14(!) shine”. As far as I know it’s not possible to measure DR of phonogram implemented to LP, am I right?

    Thank you in advance.

  • Yalcin Inel

    While I don’t own a vinyl setup to experience this, I can say that the remix on CD is leaps and bounds better than the original. The LP-rips of the original scattered around the net are still better than the remix cd tho’.

    Anyway, everyone who owns the dvd’s of the remix can produce a little miracle in downmixing the surround mix to stereo with sox.exe commands.

    You need to rip the dts stream from the dvd with a program such as dvd-decrypter, convert it to at least 24 bit wav and with a little experimentation on sox.exe you can get the most dynamic, lush and detailed sound of the album which will create eargasm after eargasm. I guess this is right now the best way to experience what Lord AMG described here, if you don’t own a vinyl player.

    If anyone is keen on trying this, my version was created using the command:

    Sox.exe -V -G deliverance.wav c:outputdeliverance.wav remix 1v0.39,3v0.06,4v0.52,5v0.34 2v0.39,3v0.06,4v0.52,6v0.34 norm -1