Sunday, 8 July 2012

AMORPHIS - Tales From The Thousand Lakes (1994)

01  Thousand Lakes
02  Into Hiding
03  The Castaway
04  First Doom
05  Black Winter Day
06  Drowned Maid
07  In The Beginning
08  Forgotten Sunrise
09  To Fathers Cabin
10  Magic And Mayhem

'Tales From The Thousand Lakes' is the second full-length album by metal band Amorphis, released July 12th 1994 on Relapse Records. It is a monumental concept album, with the lyrics being based on the Finnish national epic, Kalevala. This was the first Amorphis album to feature Kasper Mårtenson on keyboards.

'Tales From The Thousand Lakes' would’ve never happened had guitarist Esa Holopainen, guitarist/vocalist Tomi Koivusaari, drummer Jan Rechberger and bassist Olli-Pekka “Oppu” Laine not written and recorded debut album, 'The Karelian Isthmus'. Inspired by Celtic myth, bloodthirsty yarns about the Crusades and Stockholm sound legends, 'The Karelian Isthmus' rattled battle-worn earth and hummed like tattered angels falling from Heaven. It was death metal for warriors. 'Tales From The Thousand Lakes' is a pivotal album. Not just for Amorphis, but for (melodic death) metal post-1994.

The riffs here vary from undeniably Scandinavian (“Into Hiding”, “Black Winter Day”, “Drowned Maid”) to even having a hint of middle-eastern influence (“The Castaway”), and the pace varies as well. The tempo is always changing during the course of the album. There are moments where the picking of the guitars is unrelentingly fast, yet there are times when the album feels almost doomy, very slow and deliberate. "Black Winter Day," is a true masterpiece that combines everything you could ever want in a Metal song. Catchy tunes such as the beginning keyboard solo and then the heavy guitars bursting in and the perfect death metal growl makes for a perfect song.

My theory behind the "appeal" that this album holds to so many people is the atmosphere it creates when you let it fully absorb you. The more you listen, the more each nuance is embedded in your subconscious.
The only thing I could really complain about is the lyrics, based on The Kalevala. The Kalevala is supposed to be a great Finnish epic, similar to Lord of The Rings, but a lot of the meaning of the original poem is lost in translation. It goes well with the music, and you can get somewhat of a feel of a story that the band is trying to tell, but it doesn't really work lyrically and will most likely wash over the casual listener.

'Tales From The Thousand Lakes' stands as a highly individual and mature album, a rare work of metal that manages to rise above stylistic expectations through a brave creative spirit, combining youthful ambition, brilliant imagination and musical intelligence, revealing Amorphis at the most creatively inspired and exciting moment of their artistic career.

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