Amorphis – Tales From The Thousand Lakes

   1994 Relapse

Amorphis is, quite simply, one of my favorite bands.  Their evolution from the pure death metal overtures of their first full length ‘The Karelian Isthmus’ to the amazing grandeur of 2007’s ‘Silent Water’ has been breathtaking.   ‘Tales From The Thousand Lakes’ was the turning point in the development of the Amorphis sound and was the first album I ever heard with a near perfect mix of guttoral vocals and clean melodic vocals.   I don’t know if they were the first to try it, but they were the first to get it right.

Amorphis bases their music on their native Finnish folklore, here basing it on the epic Kalevala.  This album is recognized by fans of the genre as a cornerstone of melodic death metal…some even credit the disc as the true genesis of the genre.  All I know is that it was unlike anything I’d ever heard at the time and it’s an easy inclusion on the 10 Best of the Abyss.

From the first notes of opener “Thousand Lakes” you can just feel that you’re about to be taken somewhere you’ve never been before.  The heaviness of the guitars and the power of the music is actually elevated by the tasteful use of keyboard textures, which often weave counter-melodies in and out of the main song riffs and bring both warmth and a sense of coldness at the same time.

My favorite track here has to be “Black Winter Day,” where the keyboards bring a very distinct fantasy-feel to the music.  I’m just drawn in by those keyboard melodies to this day, and I have to chuckle remembering my ex-wife hearing it for the first time and saying it sounded like irritating Nintendo music.   The world of Amorphis is one of longing, and one of fantasy and grandeur. 

Other favorite moments on this seemless disc are the amazing “Forgotten Sunrise” and album closer “Magic and Mayhem.”  Showing that these Fins have quite the sense of humor, the CD contains a bonus track – a remake of The Doors’ classic “Light My Fire” replete with those guttoral growls.  Death never sounded so sexy! hahahahahaha

Rating:  5 out of 5

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