Tales From The Thousand Lakes (Live At Tavastia)

Reigning Phoenix
rating icon 8 / 10

Track listing:

01. Thousand Lakes
02. Into Hiding
03. The Castaway
04. First Doom
05. Black Winter Day
06. Drowned Maid
07. In The Beginning
08. Forgotten Sunrise
09. To Father's Cabin
10. Magic And Mayhem
11. Vulgar Necrolatry
12. My Kantele

Originally released in the summer of 1994, "Tales From The Thousand Lakes" turned AMORPHIS from an aspiring death metal band into something much richer and more progressive. Aside from its huge impact on gothic, folk and melodic death metal, the Finns' second studio record was also their first authentically progressive creative move.

30 years on, "Tales From The Thousand Lakes (Live At Tavastia)" is a bombastic reminder of its many charms. Captured at the legendary Tavastia Club in Helsinki, this is the second live album AMORPHIS have released within the last 12 months. Like its predecessor, "Queen Of Time (Live At Tavastia 2021)" , this is a simple celebration of one of the band's most important records. Significantly, it also sounds vast and immaculate, outstripping these songs' original studio incarnations on every level. In an era when live albums are often inessential stopgaps, this anniversary extravaganza feels more momentous and worthwhile than most.

They may be one of the most criminally underrated bands in metal history, but AMORPHIS have always had a strong sense of their own identity and the music to match. Many records from the same era have faded into irrelevance, but "Tales From The Thousand Lakes" still stands tall and its influence can be heard everywhere. Perhaps more importantly, the Finnish legends' songwriting skills have sharpened over the years, but these tunes are as timeless and memorable as they come. With the added bonus that AMORPHIS have long been a truly formidable live act, and frontman Tomi Joutsen is a certified powerhouse who gives everything from explosive opener "Into Hiding" to a closing "My Kantele" (one of the band's perennial live songs, first found on 1996's "Elegy" album) large amounts of additional power and charisma. Diehard fans will probably argue that nothing can top the unique atmosphere of the original LP, but AMORPHIS have a masterful command of their own musical universe, and these songs benefit greatly from their prowess and experience as musicians. The result is a faithful but fiery rendition of a classic that does not seem to have aged.

The highlights are predictable, but deeply satisfying, nonetheless. "The Castaway" is one of the first songs that AMORPHIS released that proclaimed their prog inclinations, and here it sounds every bit as well-rounded and ingenious as anything on the band's last few, uniformly brilliant studio records. Likewise, "Black Winter Day" is an iconic '90s metal gem, and a song that the Finns can probably play with their eyes shut and hands tied behind their backs. Yet here it resounds with the same youthful spark that made it so irresistible the first time around. Best of all, overlooked deep cuts like "Drowned Maid" and "Forgotten Sunrise" are delivered with a muscular ferocity that their 30-year-old studio counterparts lacked. The surprise inclusion of death metal rager "Vulgar Necrolatry" (an ABHORRENCE cover, originally released as a bonus track on AMORPHIS' 1992 debut "The Karelian Isthmus") is a neat touch and a sincere salute to fans who have been with them from the start. In truth, it is to those people that this live record is aimed, but anyone that has enjoyed this magnificent band over the last three decades will find plenty to stir the soul here.

Author: Dom Lawson
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