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Highly overrated - 53%

deepred, May 19th, 2009

Depending on who you believe, Tales from the Thousand Lakes is either the point where Amorphis sold out, or where they produced one of the all time great melodic death metal albums. Truth is, neither are correct. Tales is a transitional album, a midway between the brilliant atmospheric doomy DM of The Karelian Isthmus, and the ambitious riff-tastic progressive masterpiece Elegy. Tales takes elements from both but compromises too much of their earlier style for a newer aesthetic not fully mastered.

To be honest, how this is cited by anyone as Amorphis' best is beyond me. The production is really subpar for the era, which is even more disappointing given that The Karelian Isthmus is a shining example of almost perfect production. Tomi Koivusaari's vocals are lacking in intensity and, without the cleans of Pasi Koskinen as a contrast, become fairly monotonous. The lyrics are embarassingly awful, although given the unintelligibility of the vocals, this is not the most critical flaw.

That honour belongs to the riffs, which are unoriginal and unmemorable, and even more so when compared to the preceding and subsequent albums. The Karelian Isthmus was chock-full of simple, slow, atmospheric and memorable riffs, and Elegy showed the emergence and mastery of a new style, blazing, melodic and catchy. Tales shows this latter style trying to emerge, but these riffs are same-ish, too often chuggy and when a good one finally does appear, it gets drenched by goofy sounded keys (Black Winter Day being a perfect example). There are some decent leads here and there, but they lose impact when the rhythm guitars are so often going chug-chug-chug underneath.

As for being a landmark of melodic death, this isn't anything which hadn't been done better by Eucharist and Sentenced. Only with the realisation of Elegy did Amorphis succeed in contributing something significant in this respect.