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Today is the day of "Kalevala" here in Finland. Elias Lönnrot wrote his foreword for this Finland's national epic, that he had compiled, on February 28th in the year 1835. Finland is known as the "land of the thousand lakes", so I think you've guessed what this albm is all about... I decided to choose this, the band's second full length album for the review today, because this worked as an introduction to the band for me, simple as that.
Synthesizer introduction 'Thousand Lakes' sounds Finnish to the core. What, no death metal anymore?! No. Well, there's death metal riffage and throat-lacerating low growl vocals of rhythm guitarist Tomi Koivusaari (with legendary "rai" growls, of course), as 'Into Hiding' proves. Doomy, meaning some kind of darkly atmospheric what's seen on the album's cover artwork, heavy mid-paced death metal is what's heard first, but soon enter the sweeping melodies. Finnish to the core in their style, with some exceptions that sound Mid-Eastern, from lead guitarist Esa Holopainen's pen. The synths by Kasper Mårtenson work their magic in prog rock way. And goddamnit: Clean vocals! Yes, Kyyria's Ville Tuomi provided his individual, if not very adept, voice on some of the songs. Okay, the album is weaved from various elements, Rechberger'sand that is its potency. All this proved to be too much for some older fans, as I personally know. On this album Amorphis was at their most exceptional. The band were more adventurous as they were skilled, but that's the spirit, the soul of this highly unique album. Splendid and vast use of guitar and synthesizer sounds give every song their own, special feeling. The only negative element is the "dance beat" part on the closer 'Magic and Mayhem', which is a pretty lame idea in itself, but when executed with cheap midi sounds, it's simply appalling.
The sound is thoroughly organic. You can almost see the band playing in your living room! Every element is well audible in the mix. Olli-Pekka Laine's bass and Jan Rechberger's drumming provide sturdy backbone for the album. The cover painting is simply breathtaking, if not very Finnish scenery. The lyrics might look mythical, but usually contain everyday tips for how to live.
The album is a fine piece of Finnish metal music. In 1994 I would have gave this as big a score as possible, but not anymore, thanks to the midi tomfoolery on the last song. It just destroys the spirit of the album when it happens. This, however, doesn't obstruct me from giving 'Tales from the Thousand Lakes' the classic mark.
(originally written for ArchaicMetallurgy.com on 02/28/2008)