Amorphis: Forging the Land of Thousand Lakes

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Amorphis: Forging the Land of Thousand Lakes
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Amorphis: Forging the Land of Thousand Lakes
Melodic Death Metal, Hard Rock
Nuclear Blast Records
May 26th, 2003
Release length: 5:30:00
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Forging the Land of Thousand Lakes marks the first ever DVD for Amorphis, and features two great performances on two DVDs. The first DVD is the band’s performance in Oulu, filmed on November 20th, 2010 according to the accompanying booklet. The second DVD features a bonus live set recorded at the Summer Breeze Open Air festival in 2009. Of course, the Oulu show is the main subject of this release, and it’s an impressive live performance collection of a fantastic professional quality, both by the band, and the production company that filmed it, which, given many of Nuclear Blast’s more recent DVD releases, it shouldn’t come as a real shock. So, how does this one actually stack up?

Well, first, let’s look at DVD 1: The Oulu Show. Again, the concert was filmed on November 20th, 2010, and clearly shows how awesome Amorphis is since the first pressing of this DVD was back in July, 2010, and the official US pressing of the album, one of the last regions to get this piece of gold, was August 10th of the same year, meaning these guys are just so awesome they can travel through time! Let’s see Iron Maiden or Judas Priest pull that one off! Of course, this was probably filmed back in 2009 in support of their then new full-length album, Skyforger, which also was released in 2009. The performance is their full headlining set, composed of fifteen complete songs, and a medley of “Against Widows”, “Cares”, and “On Rich and Poor”. The concert itself is full of energy, and the band really gets into the material, but none more then the band’s vocalist, who puts on a fantastic performance and does his job as the band’s frontman well, basically taking command of the show and pretty much stealingt he spotlight with his actions on the stage, as well as his physical appearance, showing the emotion and drive her puts into the music nicely, but at the same time often looking creepy or intimidating based on his long dreadlocks, which go absolutely nuts when he starts headbanging, offering up a very interesting visual aid to the show outside the appropriate lighting throughout the set, which is mostly a darker hugh of violet or blue against a well fogged set.

The audio on the recording is fantastic as well, and, like many concerts, clearly comes from the sound board. It sounds like a genuine live show though, with no hint of studio editing or re-recording, like some live albums have on them, which really brings the presentation to life, showing each member’s talents nicely. The show goes off without a hitch, and there’s plenty of well orchestrated camera angles and fades utilized that often work well with the atmosphere of the music, but never hammer away at the viewer to the point where you can’t tell what is going on. Key moments of the live set are focused on through the cameras for an appropriate amount of time, and it feels like there really isn’t anything missing. There is also enough of a grain effect on the video to make it feel like you’re watching a big-budget film, and with the fantastic 5.1 surround sound incorporated on this release, which sounds nice on the 2.1 Stereo setting as well, it’s really makes this release just feel like something special. There’s also a few times where the camera angles are out of the ordinary, like during “Majestic Beast” when the song kicks in, and the camera is below the vocalist, and you catch him headbanging from an angle that many wouldn’t normally get to see, and it’s an interesting sight in the long run. This also features so nice close ups on various band members while performing that are just picture perfect close ups, and wiith the bass kicking in, it’ll make the camera shake slightly sometimes, which looks fantastic with the tracks on the camera that the lights create. In all honesty, this is exactly how a live concert should be filmed, especially for a band that has such a powerful sound in their music to begin with. Of course, all of this can’t add up to some of the crowd reactions, as well as persons in the crowd, which sometimes show the passion and energy in the room on both spectrums, or can just be hysterical to watch but the number of out of place people there, but in the end showing a great unity amongst the band and their fans from all different genders and generations.

The second DVD of this release features the entire set from their appearance at the 2009 Summer Breeze Open Air festival. This recording isn’t quite as dynamic or powerful, but is fundamentally the same thing as the production on the first DVD for the Oulu show. The audio is a little more muffled in comparison, and has a little more of a raw quality to it, though still a very professional recording. The camera angles are noticably different, which also offer a more raw and live production job then anything else., though there’s plenty of varying angles that are appropriately done and not just hammering away in unison with the tempo of the music like some DVDs might see. There is also a slightly more casual performance by the band in this one, showing the band members just having fun on stage, but the performance itself is still energetic and well done, and the live performance of the material is just as close to the source material as the first live show on this release.

Another big change would be the track listing. This show features twelve songs total instead of sixteen (including the medley). This set features performances of the songs “Leaves Scar”, “The Smoke”, as well as the full rendition of “Against Widows” and not just a portion of it for a medley, offering more of a reason to take the time to watch this video and not just pass it up after watching the first show. It also shows the band as they typically are on stage, without the seriousness of a full-fledged DVD recording to worry about, though this recording did wind up as part of the material for the DVD in the long run. Any way you look at it, it’s just a great companion recording, and it shows a whole other side of the band on stage, as well as offers a few other songs performed live that weren’t covered already on the previous show, or that you probably haven’t seen the band perform live if you have had the honor of seeing this band in life.

The only thing about this show is that there is no real encore, or at least no hint that any of the songs were encore acts. On the Oulu show on DVD 1, you can see where the band took a brief intermission before coming back out for their three song encore. However, on this set, it appears the band did not do that, though the two closing tracks are the encore of the first show on this set. While some argue whether ot not an encore is necessary in today’s music scene, especilly in metal, the lack of one, or at least the lack of a hint that one actually happened, is rather disheartening actually, especially when you know that you are watching a big name band like Amorphis. Of course, this is a festival and there really is no room to do an actual encore, and that may very well be the case here, but for the fans of the true concert experience, it’s really the only fault of this performance. This second disc also features all the music videos from the band’s career, and they look professional and of the highest quality available from the original material, though nothing clearly remastered as the film grains from the original tapes and whatnot is still present. Of course, the videos are set up in the natural progression from earliest to latest, and it really shows off the progression of Amorphis throughout the years, which is very interesting to see for those who hadn’t had the fortune to watch it develop from their start, or to just sit down and be reminded of how far the band has come since their debut effort. This DVD also features a clip from a live performance on a television show called “Jyrki TV” of the song “My Kantele”, the band’s hit at the time, as well as an interview segment from that show, and a thirty minute documentary. The documentary itself, while short, goes over the hardships the band had, the various influences throughout their career, the departure of members and solidifying of the line-up, and it’s just an interesting documentary piece about the band without a lot of filler thrown in to try to expand the length and sell it as a whole other disc to get more money from fans.

But, that’s not all. This set also comes with two bonus CDs, which actually are just the audio from the Oulu show that is on DVD 1, and act more as another companion piece for the band. For those who don’t necessarily care for live audio recordings, and prefer a more vision approach to live recordings, these won’t really seem like anything too much, but the quality of the audio in the first place makes these tracks stand out and make for some good music to listen to while in the car or not at a ready DVD player to watch the entire performance. The main set is broken up onto two discs obviously, as there’s just too much to put into one, and it’s the entire set without any fading in or out aside the cut for the encore tracks that exists on the original DVD anyhow, and obviously for the transition between Disc 1 and Disc 2.

Finally, there is one more thing I’d like to touch upon, which is the package itself. This release, instead of coming in the contemporary DVD case, plastic or cardstock like many older TV shows came in on DVD prior to the thin clamshell concept, comes in a digipack. The problem is, this thing is cramped, and comes in the digisleeve format that Metal Blade Records has recently started using for their full-lengths, though it’s a little better due to a perferation in the sleeve itself that keeps the disc from moving up and down in the space you slide it into uncontrollably and getting scratched up. While this has been implimented on other releases, like the digibook version of Angel of Retribution by Judas Priest, this version is sideways instead of having the opening upright, which will lead to tearing of edges to get the CD out safely, and is still tight enough that it’ll cause the disc to scrape against the paper and cause scuffing, or, god forbid, if anything happens to get inside one of these sleeves that is hard enough to scratch the disc, as those scratches will be very deep. Of course, the traditional clamshell edition is available in other regions, but they may not work with all US players unless they are a region 0 disc.

All in all, Forging the Land of Thousand Lakes is, by far, one of the better DVDs from a band that you can find out on the market, and is done right. Sure, it has a hefty price tag, especially at some retail chain locations versus on-line retailers, but however you manage to get ahold of this release, it’s worth it. Again, the only complaint for this, really, is the way it’s packaged, having those sleeves in a digipack format instead of a traditional DVD format that many of us would expect, but with today’s technology you can easily back the material up and make playable back-up copies to refrain from taking the discs out constantly, or even just put them in other cases all together. The material on this set is enough to span two, maybe three other seperate releases entirely, leaving the fan to pay double or triple, and that’s one of the more outstanding features of this. It features everything a dedicated fan can want, all of the highest possible quality, and is in one package at a price that is reasonable compared to spacing it out until all the material is gone. If you’re looking for quality, as well as more bang for your buck in total length of the musical product, then this Amorphis DVD is just the thing for fans of the band to experience the band in a way many have not have the chance to do, as well as rediscover the band and their earlier material, simply making it a must have.

DVD One: The Oulu Show
01. Silver Bride – 4:23
02. Sampo – 6:02
03. Towards and Against – 5:39
04. The Castaway – 6:00
05. Smithereens/The Smoke – 5:19
06. Majestic Beast – 4:22
07. Alone – 6:31
08. Silent Waters – 5:07
09. Divinity – 4:27
10. Elegy Medley (Against Widows/Cares/On Rich and Poor) – 8:17
11. From the Heaven of My Heart – 5:09
12. Sky is Mine – 4:34
13. Magic and Mayhem/Black Winter Day – 6:16
14. Sign from the Northside – 5:54
15. House of Sleep – 5:08
16. My Kantele – 8:47

DVD Two: Summer Breeze Open Air 2009
01. Leaves Scar – 3:28
02. Towards and Against – 5:17
03. From the Heaven of My Heart – 5:20
04. Against Widows – 4:47
05. The Castaway – 6:04
06. Sampo – 6:01
07. Silver Bride – 4:20
08. Alone – 6:21
09. The Smoke – 4:04
10. My Kantele – 5:40
11. House of Sleep – 4:22
12. Magic and Mayhem – 5:49
13. Black Winter Day (Video Clip) – 3:54
14. My Kantele (Video Clip) – 5:46
15. Against Widows (Video Clip) – 4:15
16. Divinity (Video Clip) – 3:37
17. Alone (Video Clip) – 4:41
18. Evil Inside (Video Clip) – 4:03
19. House of Sleep (Video Clip) – 4:19
20. The Smoke (Video Clip) – 3:41
21. Silent Waters (Video Clip) – 4:03
22. Silver Bride (Video Clip) – 3:24
23. From the Heaven of My Heart (Video Clip) – 4:20
24. My Kantele (Video Clip – Jurki TV Show, 1996) – 6:14
25. Amorphis interview (Video Clip – Jurki TV Show, 1996) – 5:11
26. Tales from teh 20 Years (Documentary)
27. Photo Gallery

CD One:
01. Silver Bride – 4:23
02. Sampo – 6:02
03. Towards and Against – 5:39
04. The Castaway – 6:00
05. Smithereens/The Smoke – 5:19
06. Majestic Beast – 4:22
07. Alone – 6:31
08. Silent Waters – 5:07
09. Divinity – 4:27

CD Two:
01. Elegy Medley (Against Widows/Cares/On Rich and Poor) – 8:17
02. From the Heaven of My Heart – 5:09
03. Sky is Mine – 4:34
04. Magic and Mayhem/Black Winter Day – 6:16
05. Sign from the Northside – 5:54
06. House of Sleep – 5:08
07. My Kantele – 8:47

Overall Score: 9.5/10


Physical review copy of this release provided by Nuclear Blast Records.