Skip to main content

A Review of Amorphis's "Tales From the Thousand Lakes"

Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

The album cover shows us an example of a beautiful waterfall as the water goes into a river. The moon can be seen in the photo as well and it is just ahead of those trees.

The album cover shows us an example of a beautiful waterfall as the water goes into a river. The moon can be seen in the photo as well and it is just ahead of those trees.

Songs List for Tales From the Thousand Lakes (Japanese Version)

  1. "Thousand Lakes" (instrumental)
  2. "Into Hiding"
  3. "The Castaway"
  4. "First Doom"
  5. "Black Winter Day"
  6. "Drowned Maid"
  7. "In the Beginning"
  8. "Forgotten Sunrise"
  9. "To Father’s Cabin"
  10. "Magic and Mayhem"
  11. "Folk of the North"
  12. "Moon and Sun"
  13. "Moon and Sun Part 2: North’s Sun"

Tales from the Thousand Lakes: A Special Album

Tales from the Thousand Lakes is the second full-length album by Finnish metal band Amorphis. It was released in 1994 and remains, for me, an all-time classic! Yes, there are many albums in the genre with death metal style vocals but they are not as impressive as this one. The album is considered to be very influential for the doom and death metal genres. It was released at a time when heavy metal was declining in popularity in the United States. I would listen to these guys any day over any of the American death metal bands and that’s really saying something! Would I even listen to any of the music that the late Chuck Schuldiner wrote over these guys? That’s a tough thing to say. I as well as many of the heavy metal fans in the world are super grateful for this album and any of the other albums that Amorphis has released since. The Japanese version of the album has three tracks which are from the Black Winter Day Extended Play album. But it’s necessary for us to first introduce the musicians that play on this outstanding album.

Band Members

  • Tomi Koivusaari: Rhythm guitar and death metal vocals
  • Esa Holopainen: Guitars
  • Olli-Pekka Laine: Bass guitars
  • Jan Rechberger: Drums
  • Kaspar Martenson: Keyboards

"Drowned Maid"

Why Is This Album Such an Important Release?

This album is described as a concept album. The lyrical themes are based on the Kalevala. This is the Finnish national epic or to put it more simply, it is a huge volume of epic poetry that has been described as giving the Finns a very important identity. Recording for the album began in September 1993 and it was finally released in July 1994. Amorphis may as well have been an influence on the now-disbanded melodic death metal band Norther, who covered their song "Into Hiding" on their Dragonheads extended play album. That's another way that I could say these guys basically opened the door for other Finnish bands to form later.

There are some who say that Tales of the Thousand Lakes is the best album in the career of Amorphis and I could not disagree with that sentiment. The album is another example of the early style of death metal that was present at the time which would be roughly from 1988 through 1994 give or take.

"Into Hiding"

Songs Such as "Into Hiding" and "the Castaway" Set the Tone

The beginning of the album has the instrumental song called "Thousand Lakes." It is two minutes of some of the most beautiful piano music you will ever hear! "Into Hiding" is an excellent song that I feel contains a bit of the Middle Eastern influence in the guitar playing and Tomi can be heard growling at the beginning of the song. The song would be performed and covered by Finnish melodic folk metal band Ensiferum on their Dragon Heads EP in 2006. More of the exotic style of guitar playing can be heard in the song “The Castaway.” The song is about a bird that flies out of Lapland (an area in Northern Finland near the Arctic Circle). As it is flying around, it notices that there is a man that is lost at sea trying to find his way. "First Doom" is a doom and death metal song that is slow and heavy in nature. But then, the song speeds up with the guitar picking taking over for a while.

"In the Beginning"

"To Father's Cabin"

Final Thoughts About the Best Amorphis Album

Another one of the highlights of this album is the song called "Drowned Maid." It is about a hen that went inside the water to wash and cleanse itself of illness and calamity. It, unfortunately, meets its untimely death. "In the Beginning" is another outstanding song that has a really catchy riff! "To Father’s Cabin" has an excellent riff at the start that lets you know this is going to be a special song. The band would release the album Elegy in 1996 and have a new vocalist at that time by the name of Pasi Koskinen. Is Tales from the Thousand Lakes the band’s best album? If you enjoy a great mix of doom and death metal then it may be their best album to date. They finished the 1990s on a very strong note and they would come out with a solid progressive metal album called Am Universum in 2001. But Amorphis first started out as a death metal band and they did an outstanding job! Part of that excellence also lies in how this album began so softly and magnificently! And then as the album goes into the very good “Into Hiding” it just continues down the path of very solid death metal.

Rate This Album

"Magic and Mayhem"

© 2016 Ara Vahanian