DAVE: To coincide with the band’s 25th anniversary, Opeth are releasing a 5.1 mix of Deliverance and Damnation as they were originally intended; as a double album. Originally released in 2002 and 2003 respectively, Opeth had made a sizeable impression on my music taste already by this point with their unique blend of proggy death metal and with Steven Wilson in the studio with them for the second time (his first being 2001’s Blackwater Park) these two albums were highly anticipated and they absolutely didn’t disappoint.
GAVIN: Opeth are definitely one of the more important bands in modern metal. Perhaps Opeth's status today owes to the genre-spanning, epic scope of their work and this translates over their career, throughout each album and within pretty much every song - you have movements, shifts (and sometimes downright shoves) into different tempos, volumes, moods, colours and textures. Their experimental take on melodic death metal has helped develop the genre and push the boundaries of metal in general.
DAVE: Deliverance was a brutal affair, bringing with it everything you’d expect from an Opeth album at this point in their career. The 10-minute plus songs filled with musical peaks and troughs and more than enough going on in each song to keep the music interesting and engaging. Highlights are the incredibly heavy title track and ‘By The Pain I See In Others’ with its creepy carnival-esque section in the middle of the song before bringing back the heavy, this song is like an amalgamation of the entire album in one ten minute song.
GAVIN: The song writing on Deliverance also shows a tendency for longer epics that, like classical music, shows a kind of story. They transition from section to section with fluid aggressive motions which are actually enhanced by the moments of progressive rock that offers a soft melodic side to an otherwise brutal song.
DAVE: Damnation was almost the polar opposite of Deliverance being an entirely acoustic affair, showcasing some fantastically beautiful guitar work and bringing Mikael Akerfeldt’s superb singing voice into focus for an entire album. Highlights here are the infinitely catchy ‘To Rid the Disease’ and the proggy, synth-laden album closer ‘Weakness’.
GAVIN: With Damnation the guitars are a lot more intricate and give softer melodic hooks. Damnation gave us all classics like Windowpane, In My Time of Need and Hope Leaves that give guitar work that can be both beautiful and harrowing. Damnation shows a lot more melody and shows a band that wants to show you don't have to have blast beats and walls of sound to be an aggressive metal act. A bold move.
DAVE: As for the 5.1 mix, what can I say? It sounds better. Admittedly there may be a little more dynamic range that the original mixes but in my honest opinion, the albums sounded fine before. Not that I’m dismissing the validity of this rerelease, it’s an absolute must for Opeth fans, if just for the fact it’s a double album.
BOTH: In many ways Damnation and Deliverance are two sides of the same coin. Although Deliverance started something it was Damnation that finished it, taking the melodic parts to all new level. It is unsurprising to learn that they were initially intended as a double album and the coming rerelease doesn't just make sense but fits perfectly. They are important albums for Opeth as they have helped to define Opeth's sound as they take a direction slightly away from traditional Death Metal for something that can only be described as Opeth. Opeth fan or not though, I highly recommend going out and getting this one as it is just as impressive and important as it was thirteen years ago.