Following in the footsteps of their previous album, the hybrid Tales From the Thousand Lakes, Amorphis continues to blend staple death-metal fanfare with melodic Scandinavian folklore and melody. With new "clean" singer Pasi Koskinen, the band expands their sound to acoustic guitars, spacey keyboards, and a beautifully clean production.
The opening track (though the weakest, still impressive) is no doubt inspired by Middle-Eastern melodies (a la Therion) with an aggressive touch. "Against Widows" is a gem; Esa Holopainen's harmonizing guitars, changes in pitch and a double-bass rhythm throughout make this a stand-out track among a unanimously impressive selection. "The Orphan" is exceptional: an atmospheric keyboard/guitar intro and not a single grunt in the song's 5-minute run, half of which is instrumental. The album is stunning. Like its predecessor, the album was inspired by the Finnish companion to the Kalevala, the Kanteletar (?).
Even with the new additions and expansions, the album is never soft or mainstream. Powerhouses "Song of the Troubled One" and the instrumental attack of "Relief" keep the death-metal in Amorphis (without, of course, ignoring the amazing sonic keyboard accompaniments). Signs of musical evolution are, no doubt, apparent. The keyboard interludes in "Cares" and the all-acoustic "My Kantele (reprise)" foreshadow the radical shift in sound that Amorphis would undertake in subsequent albums.
As a band whose albums are clearly individual and unique (much like Ulver), Amorphis peaked with Elegy, a perfect union between the power of guitars and the keyboard's sonic edge. An instant classic.
See also: Amorphis - Tales From the Thousand Lakes, Vanitas - Das Leben ein Traum