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I have been initiated into Amorphisiac fandom a long stretch of months ago. I swoon under the sheer genius of Elegy, I weep at the gentle fragility of Tuonela, and Am Universum brings me to higher levels of headbangdomness with its easy grooviness - yet I rage at this album's insipid inferiority.
What most Amorphis initiates hail as this band's best music is in reality their most amateurishly immature and boredum-inducing work. There are many areas of major importance which must be adressed when reviewing such a cheap album: lyrical shittiness, anachronistic sound quality, and impressively frustrating musical structures (or lack thereof).
My first point - lyrical shittiness - can be dismissed by most Thousand Lakes enthusiasts who will use the excuse that English is this band's second or - God forbid! - third language. I apologize, but from my - jaded, biased, and subjective - perspective, one should not attempt translating old poetry into one's second or third language, unless one - at the very least - masters that other language's grammar and tenses. The band - who translated some traditional Finnish poems for the purposes of this album - obviously do not have that kind of - rather basic - mastery of the English language. As a result, the - I have no doubts about it - fine poetry of the Kalevala is reduced into a meaningless stream of gibberish with poetic images that lost all their sense outside the context of their home language (And there I, a hen, was lost), lines which seem to have no connection to each other (I have a good mind / Take into my head / To start of singing / Began reciting), and awkward verses cut in two to fit a song's 4/4 beat (The mountains of North / Shall erupt and flames / Of darkland will raise). Oh, and the verb tenses are mostly wrong as well... (He whirled out of doors as snow / Arrives as smoke in the yard / To flee from bad deeds) Perhaps they should have sung everything in Finnish instead of disemboweling the poetry they so love.
The second point is the band's anachronistic sound quality. While some may argue that part of Led Zeppelin II's charm - that charming, godly, simple yet virtuosic, mostly improvised classic of rock - came from its shitty, scratchy sound, LZII was recorded and published in 1969...Thousand Lakes was recorded and published in 1994. Two very different contexts - and the 1994 one was not improvised either... Budgetary restrictions are simply no excuse; there many citable examples of underground metal bands who produced albums with extremely good sound quality on ridiculously low budgets, such as uneXpect and Children of Bodom, to name only two.
My third point concerns the musical structures of the songs. While a few of the songs are pretty good and are exempt to this rule - The Castaway, In the Beginning, and Black Winter Day, for example, are pretty cool songs - the others mostly have one finely crafted and downright cool riff in the first seconds or minutes, they all go downhill from there as the rest of the songs are extremely boring yet compelling examples of musicians who lack any inspiration whatsoever. Case in point: take the song To Father's Cabin. It starts with very good, adrenaline pumping, groovy guitar parts. Then that part ends. And then you wait impatiently for that cool beginning riff to come back again. But it doesn't. And you wait and wait and wait - until you impatiently decide to skip that song. Unfortunately the process is then repeated with another song (Magic and Mayhem). And if there's anything I hate the most in this existence, it is to wait for something that never will come. If you don't hate that sort of stuff, you definitely should.
In conclusion, the only reason I gave Thousand Lakes any points at all is for the really nice song introductions as well as for all of the two good songs it features. While this album may be worth the price because it's Amorphis and because it's been re-released as a 14-track album with some of the good songs from the Black Winter Day EP, I would eagerly recommend skipping this album in favor of Elegy, Tuonela, and Am Universum, which are all far superior in their own way.