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Surprisingly, this Amorphis was the one I bought after that crappy one Far From The Sun. I enjoyed Far From The Sun a little, but when I heard this for the first time, Amorphis played out some great tunes, and it made me wonder why they still don't write music like this. Trying to keep up with the times, or something, I suppose.
Many of the Finnish band's songs are remeniscient of Middle Eastern/Folk melodies, and this album is very atmospheric, which sets it apart greatly from many of the metal albums of its time. The music is still considerably heavy, but it engulfs you when you listen to it. Vocals are both growling and clean, the growling doesn't intrude too much, and this was before I ever even heard of or enjoyed growling vocals. The double guitar melodies are excellent, they melt together into one another like a caramel-nougat filling, for lack of a better metaphor. The guitarists are by no means virtuosos, so there's no badass shredding or solos, but they knew what they were doing when they put the music together. Excellent rhythm. The bass and drums are intact too. The drums are by no means fantastic, but they really go together with the other instruments. The bass, who is typically the unsung hero in many a metal song, really sets off the rhythm here, and I often like to hear that when I listen to Tales.
The only things I have to complain about are the lyrics, based on The Kalevala. The Kalevala is supposed to be a great Finnish epic, similar to Lord of The Rings and whatever, but a lot of the meaning of the original poem is lost in translation. It goes good with the music, and you can get somewhat of a feel of the story they are trying to tell, but it doesn't really work lyrically.
Black Winter Day is clearly the best one on this album. This song is a classic melodical black/ doom/ metal one, and it calls for some slow, steady headbanging. The riffs and keyboard meld together and create a great metal epic. The lyrics, as mentioned, are sub-par, but the music more than makes up for it.
Into Hiding follows suit, but it isn't as great. The beginning of the song, and the melody is great because it picks up and throws you through the rest of the song. The bass obviously helps this one out too. I still don't really like the lyrics in this one (or any of the songs on the album for that matter). Again, the awesome melody and rhythm picks up the slack for the poetry.
Drowned Maid is the 3rd best song on the album, in my opinion. It starts off with a fast melody, and the lyrics include "flesh" and "blood", so yeah... it's pretty awesome.
Damage Report (Synopsis):
Tales From The Thousand Lakes is among Amorphis' best Doom Metal albums, but isn't THE best. It keeps the band's traditional heavy yet elegant, ambient melodies and rhythms going, but it definately is lacking something lyrically... let's say, a coherent story. It would be stupid to base your opinion on the album solely on the lyrics however, because that's not what music is about, but lyrics should definately be considered when they're part of a song.