Opeth’s legacy is pretty untouchable at this stage in their career. From primitive beginnings as a slightly more textured than your average death metal band, an ascendancy through to death metal greatness add latterly: Progressive metal pioneers.
The ‘Damnation’ and ‘Deliverance’ albums, released here as the originally intended double album, really showcase the bands versatility.
Use Your Illusion 1 and 2, this is not…
Remastered, repackaged and finally realised as it apparently should have originally been been. This piece of work has perhaps gone slightly under the radar compared to big hitters like ‘Blackwater Park’ and that breakthrough to the mainstream with ‘Ghost Riveries’. Not that any Opeth fan worth their salt will have missed this body of work, but sometimes, you need the little reminders like this reissue brings to fully appreciate the brilliance on display with ‘Deliverance’ and ‘Damnation’. Plus, the new swanky packaging will have collectors and completists tripping over themselves to get hold of this release.
Housed in a ‘Book set’ for CD or 3xLP package with new liner notes, photos and redesigned artwork means this is no half-hearted affair. Brand new stereo mixes from Steve Wilson (Deliverance) and Bruce Stoord (Damnation) don’t drastically change anything on the promo mp3 versions but may be more apparent when we head down to the shops to get our triple vinyl. After pay day, of course…
So a gentle reminder. ‘Deliverance’ is the heavy one and ‘Damnation’ is the not so heavy one. That may sound like a brash sweeping generalisation, but it’s true and quite obviously intended to be that way.
At the time, ‘Deliverance’ was more of what we were used to from Opeth. Wonderfully viscous death metal, lashings of melody and inventiveness that ensured and to this day (keeps on ensuring) that Opeth were never considered to be just another death metal band.
Five songs that go into double figures, it’s a hefty half to this double collection. The majority of these tracks have already made it as stone cold Opeth classics. ‘Wreath’, ’Deliverance’, the chugging ‘A Fair Judgement’ and not least ‘Masters Apprentice’ all appear on here. That pretty much says it all. The unrushed ‘A Fair Judgement’ which swings from pounding heaviness to twiddly acoustic passages perhaps pointing to what would come from Opeth in future years like nothing else. Apart from the other half to this collection, of course…
Opeth have never bowed down to what is expected of them, but Damnation is the first time in the Opeth back catalogue where they really went off piste and just did what they wanted to.
Pissing off a few people in the process, but a vital cog in the evolution of this band.
‘Damnation’ is more of an acoustic or even folky affair. An album full of texture and and unrushed majesty. ‘Wondowpane’ sets the pace beautifully for this one and there are plenty of classics that have stood the test of time on here too.
All in all, this is a pretty beautiful collection. A worthwhile re-investment in such luscious packaging.