Bolder than The Karelian Isthmus
and conceptually superior to later attempts at progressive but radio-friendly '90s metal, Tales From the Thousand Lakes
might just be Amorphis
' best recording. This record is heavy, yet never succumbs to the inane extremes common to the melodic death metal genre. The guitars and drums are in ample supply, and a rare attention to arrangement and production really sets this disc apart. The guttural vocal work isn't for every metal fan, but the neo-prog instrumental work and overall heaviness should impress those turned off by the throaty rants. In a possible attempt to widen the band's appeal, Tomi Koivusaari
briefly sings, which doesn't exactly work out. These moments of confusion are short-lived, though, and they hardly blemish the release. The subtle addition of keyboards is a nice touch -- Amorphis
' captivation with the instrument would soften later efforts. So even though Tales From the Thousand Lakes
heralded a shift toward later, inferior recordings, the new and old are balanced precisely on this 1994 Relapse offering.