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ANOTHER BILLIE BANGER? (UPDATE)
Are you free Wednesday afternoon? (11/12a)
BIEBER BY CHRISTMAS?
How's that for a tease, Bieber Nation? (11/12a)
NEAR TRUTHS: MEET
THE NEW BOSSES
Not the same as the old bosses (11/12a)
CMA CENTERPIECE
CARRIE UNDERWOOD
This sure feels like her moment. (11/12a)
WHO'S GETTING ZERVAS?
It's down to two bidders. (11/12a)
THE GRAMMY NOMINATIONS
They'll soon be here, and then we can start obsessing about who'll win.
U.K. SPECIAL
Forget Brexit--it's our yearly survey of doings in Blighty. And if you still can't forget Brexit, try drinking.
ZERVAS STATION
Who's going to land the hottest unsigned property in music?
WEED!
That's what Hollywood smells like. Seriously. 24/7.
Critics' Choice
DIVING INTO OPETH'S
DELIVERANCE & DAMNATION
1/15/16

By J.J. Garcia

Commemorating the band’s 25th anniversary, Opeth’s double-album release Deliverance & Damnation—released on New Year’s Day via The End Records—is a progressive metal tour de force that sets the bar even higher for the genre. Originally, these sessions were written and recorded together, but released separately in 2002 and 2003 respectively. Now, these masterful works have been presented as a complete entity, as was intended.

From the brutal descent that is “Wreath”—the opening track of Deliverance–to the dynamically impelling and tranquil tones of Damnation’s “Death Whispered a Lullaby,” the band incorporates a yin-and-yang principle to this historic, one-of-a-kind collection.

Frontman Mikael Åkerfeldt has expressed that he and Martin Mendez (long-standing bassist of the group) are very excited to see the re-releases of both come to fruition. Åkerfeldt also stated that the new mixes for Damnation—the prog-rock “beauty” of the package—were done a while ago by close friend and co-producer Steven Wilson of Porcupine Tree, and it’s simply stunning! One must also note Bruce Soord’s fantastic job re-mixing Deliverance, which gives new life to the award-winning record. It’s not surprising that songs like “Master’s Apprentice” (off Deliverance) or “Hope Leaves” (off Damnation) continue to bask in sonic glory without being homogenized during remixing.

The striking artwork for this four-disc box set—two CDs (with stereo sound) and two DVDs (with 5.1 surround sound)—was restyled by original designer Travis Smith. The packaging also includes quite descriptive liner notes from Åkerfeldt himself and Jerry Ewing from magazine Prog.

Formed in Stockholm in 1990, the group has seen several personnel changes; singer, guitarist and songwriter Åkerfeldt has remained Opeth's founding member and creative architect. Over the years, the band has consistently incorporated progressive, folk, blues, classical and jazz influences into their usually lengthy compositions, as well as strong influences from death metal. Separately, these contrasting elements provided unique snapshots of Opeth that musically split them down the middle.

From the pugilistic nature of Deliverance—a prog-metal magnum opus that keeps the dignity and legacy of Opeth’s death metal/black metal roots—to the radical departure that is Damnation, which showcases each member's technical abilities in a dynamic progressive setting, these two albums couldn’t be more different, but it works. Despite what the “purists” might say about the unconventional nature of the latter, Damnation succeeds. The bringing together of these disparate styles fits well and seems long overdue.

The masses can finally devour this “lost” double album, experiencing it as one movement. Åkerfeldt showcases not only his virtuosity but also his true vision with this release. And having Wilson and Soord manning the mixes is a welcomed bonus. In sum, Deliverance & Damnation delivers an engrossing insight into Opeth’s eclectic past and present, fully justifying their well-earned status as metal’s most fearless and daring entity.