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Amorphis > Tales from the Thousand Lakes > Reviews > Planetary_Misfortune
Amorphis - Tales from the Thousand Lakes

Atmospheric Death Metal at it's absolute Apex. - 90%

Planetary_Misfortune, February 11th, 2024
Written based on this version: 1994, CD, Relapse Records

The English language is a detailed, beautiful, intricate gift to the art of communication, sometimes mastered and romanced by Maestros of Verbosity, and sometimes under-used and mis-represented by those who simply can't find enough words and diversity to speak their mind (of which this reviewer is deeply guilty).

Sometimes, there aren't even enough words and descriptors to even comprehend the feelings and emotions through such simple wordplay. Without the slightest shade of a doubt, this album is absolutely one of those moments where no words can document the absolute momentousness of the unfurling atmosphere before me.

"Tales" is littered with the kind of finesse that no group of musicians should be able to produce a mere three years into their inception. The Introduction is beautiful and very mysterious, carving both a sense of wonder and an eerie intrepidness. It seems to use a synthesizer to present a foggy-sounding motif, laced with female choral effects and bells. The tones and effects aren’t something I am able to place, but the mood on the opener is, and it genuinely sounds like the album art.

As openers go, you can do significantly worse than “Into Hiding”. It’s one of the last carryovers from the doom/death era, as it starts with a melodic guitar riff, before spiralling into Tomi’s trademarked growls. The chorus is ripe with clean vocal goodness, marking one of the groups live favourites to this very day. The juxtaposition between this and the catchy melody is notable as a suitable avatar for Amorphis’ sound, even 30 years along. The general formula of the above is the main crest that Amorphis proudly wear; often adding instruments to further the heaviness (or melody – delete as applicable) of the particular song. The formula doesn’t always work though as “First Doom” remains the sole track on here that hasn’t managed to cement itself into my heart. As great as it would be on albums prior, it doesn’t seem to fit here, forging a rare disconnect between story and listener.

Then we have other classics such as “Black Winter Day” and “Drowned Maid” which follow the well-trodden path of pacey, Indulgent melo-death with Atmosphere.The album is well remembered and well-loved for a variety of reasons (it’s rather rare for every track to be instantly recallable or at the very least, familiar) on hearing the first few notes. Rarer still is it for them to be looked upon with an overall fondness usually reserved for a happy childhood memory.

What truly, truly makes this album worthy of the Pantheon it finds itself on is the atmosphere, contributed largely towards by the production. The guitars are mixed perfectly, being fully audible and at centre stage, without the sacrifice of the supporting instrumentation. Every note of the bass is crystal clear and thunderous when it needs to be. The drums are pronounced and the three fully perform their roles as time and rhythm keepers flawlessly. Tomi’s vocals are also clear and stand out above all of the instruments without making any any into noisy spectators. The effects and at times unusual sounds push this album way out of the boundaries of any standard metal trope, and again, it has an uncanny knack of actually sounding like the album art does – mysterious, foggy, but inviting and otherworldly.

I also recommend the closer "Magic and Mayhem" for a perfect example of the albums flavour. An epic guitar lead plays throughout, recalling that Iron Butterfly classic whose name I forget. Once again, the unusual synth sound separates the intro and first few bars. As the song begins, it becomes a much heavier death metal piece, with doomy guitars and more death growls by Tomi. There's even a guitar "wah" every couple of bars which I don't recall hearing anywhere else in Amorphis' early catalogue.

However, not everything is idyllic and sensual. For some reason, the band decided to include a cover of "Light My Fire" by the Doors. It doesn't add anything to the zeitgeist of this release and quite frankly would be better as a B-side to an earlier or later single release. It's fine, I suppose, but just doesn't go with the rest of the album. I suppose if I am being critical, I can acknowledge that it gives the artists an extra opportunity to showcase their diverse array of influences and abilities.

The majesty of this album is a hill I will absolutely die on, not only securing a "comfy" sensation when listened to, but somehow improving on each listen, with every song giving up more of its secrets. Therefore, Amorphis' only true flirtation with melodic death metal has left so so many people wondering "What If?", but as we all know, this wasn't the path for Amorphis to continue down.

Definitely a case of "Smile, Because it Happened!". It even sounds like the album cover - so grab your Fishing Rods and your Wicker Hat as a calming, one-of-a-kind experience is located within this Pandora's Box. Instead of Cenobites, we get inspired and unique Metal, forged from the famous words of the hallowed Kalevala.