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Sometimes when I hear an album it takes me into another realm or another space. For example, I could have my headphones on and it could be 97 degrees outside and humid and what I'm listening to makes me feel like I'm minutes away from the arctic circle with the north winds smacking me in the face. An album that makes me feel like I am in the place where the songwriter has intended me to be. An album doesn't have to do this to be a good album but if it does, it's special.
"Tales from the Thousand Lakes" isn't just stereotypical death metal. Amorphis created a timeless masterpiece with this work. The culmination of atmospheric keyboards, gutteral vocals, ripping but melodic guitar work and deadly precise drumming make this an instant classic. It's hard to believe that this came out 15 years ago. This one was way far advanced for it's time. By far, this has to be the best overall metal album that I've heard come out of Finland.
As far as this albums production, it's a bit rough. I don't think this album would be as good as it is with anything different. Keep in mind, I haven't heard the re-release so I'm speaking of the way the original master sounds. It's not overly raw but you can still here some crackling. For 1993 I would say it's very mid grade. Not 80's primitive sounding but not modern.
Everything stands out on this album perfectly. The guitars are what shines the most. Very melodic and still brutal. The doom-laden pace of the guitar work carries the message of what they are trying to send very well. You can hear every note, every chord perfectly. The notes cut through like glacial winds in January. No soloing though. First time I heard this album, I didn't even notice. It wasn't one of those instances where I was like, "Hey where's the damn solo?" It's that good.
Amorphis incorporate much more keyboard in this album compared to it's predecessor, "The Karelian Isthmus". It's not a virtuoso keyboard style but it still fits harmoniously well with the rest of the composition. The keyboards on "Black Winter Day", the albums first and only single, are dominating in a good way. The song opens with keyboards and is peppered with measures of keyboards throughout. Another good keyboard friendly track is "To Fathers Cabin".
Vocally, Tomi Koivusaari is very minimal. If you read the lyrics you'd understand. There is no set pattern on any song. It seems as if Tomi just comes in randomly with his vocals when it felt right for him. Very nontraditional death metal vocal style for it's time. The gutteral approach is also very nontraditional with the music style it accompanies, especially with keyboards, but again it works phenomenally.
If you were introduced to Amorphis any album after this and haven't heard this yet, I'd say give it a shot. You'll be amazed at how different they are now compared to where they started. This is cutting edge metal, even for today. Every single song is good. This is a very mature album, and it may sound cliché, but this is a timeless masterpiece.