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I've been stalling on reviewing this album, because I really just did not want to listen to it again after the horrible first impression it made on me when I first heard it. This was the sophomore effort from resident "mommy do we HAVE to play metal?" Finnish flip-floppers Amorphis, the band who could never decide what they wanted to be and could never produce an album that was straight out quality all the way through, and you'll have to excuse me if I don't like it quite as much as some people seem to. It has grown on me quite a bit since my first couple of plays, but I still just don't think this band is all that great.
So, yeah, this album really doesn't want to be metal. It's got growls and heavy riffs, but those are like the last remains of flesh hanging off the bones of a human skeleton; this album is structurally almost purely wish-washy synth Pink Floyd rock all the way. It's got all the trappings of that sound, from the hypnotic, dreamlike synths to the oddly laid back sort of tempo that all of these songs resign themselves to. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but I just can't help but think that it could be done better. Something about this band's combination of sound just doesn't do it for me, that's the best way I can describe it. They write some solid songs, but it doesn't seem like they really have much conviction; if they aren't sure about where they want to go with this, how are we supposed to be?
I guess the main draw of this album is supposed to be the "wintry, frosty, lake-like atmosphere" that the band uses here to a great extent. And by that I mean, the atmosphere that draws comparisons to the algae on the bottom of the lake, or maybe the mist from a shower that collects on your mirror as you turn up the water...which I guess came from a pipe in the lake, if that helps this album's credibility. And I'm not just being a sarcastic asshole here, that's really what atmosphere this album evokes. It's something about that synth sound, really; that's what it is. This album is definitely the Tales of the Thousand Lakes (and before you email me telling me what the title really means, hold your horses - I already know), but what they don't tell you is just what part of the lake you're going to be taking journeys to. So take this as you will, because while I don't like it, I imagine some of you won't care as much about being musically whisked away to the base of the sewer pipe at the bottom of the lake.
There is a certain novelty value about this, obviously, but that only means that some songs have atrocious clean vocals that sound like something you'd hear out of a Latin radio station; or more like someone attempting to try out for one and failing. I am dead serious. He makes appearances on a couple of songs here, and I have to say I can't take off many points for it, because his role in the actual album is pretty small, but the annoyance remains. Pretty much all of these songs are pretty well written for what they are, even though I can't say I enjoy it that much. "Black Winter Day" is the only exception; a really lame song with a shitty keyboard melody that I cannot stand at all. Come on, are you really going to tell me with a straight face that you enjoy this song? A lot of people seem to like this song, which confused me at first until I remembered that most people have terrible taste. But the rest of the stuff on here is passable enough, in the context of...watered down Doom Death blandness with atmospheric keyboards and vocals that don't leave any impression on you.
This album is flighty, insincere and pretty boring most of the time, and I don't really get why anybody likes it. I can't say I really enjoy this album much at all, even in its best moments. At best, it's just inoffensive music to tap your feet to, but a lot of the time it bores me even in that regard. This isn't that horrible, but there are just so many other things you could be listening to besides this. There are better doom bands, better Death Metal bands, better mellow rock bands...just all around better bands. So if you are considering listening to this soggy sandwich on metal's proverbial lake surface...don't.