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Review: "the Karelian Isthmus" Debut Album of Finnish Heavy Metal Band Amorphis With the Vocals of Tomi Koivusaari

Updated on February 20, 2023
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Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

Songs such as Karelia and The Gathering set the tone for a pretty good debut album

Every album that Finnish metal band Amorphis writes turns out to be nothing less than good and usually it is pretty superb. Their 1992 debut album called "The Karelian Isthmus" continues in this tradition of goodness. The first track called Karelia is a short 43 second instrumental with acoustic guitar. Then comes the song “The Gathering” which is a song about an army being summoned to go out and fight to protect their land and honor. It is as if the gods of war are giving them the message to go out and fight against those evil forces. Even if a soldier knows that he may die, he will have shown his bravery as he enters his next life. The song has a beautiful contrast between the slower Tales from the Thousand Lakes style and a faster death metal riff. Amorphis began their career as a death metal band and they used Tomi Koivusaari’s death growls to their advantage.


Why is Amorphis one of the greatest Finnish metal bands of all time?

There’s a major reason why this writer feels that Amorphis is one of the best Finnish metal bands of all time. They produce great quality songs no matter what style they choose to play in. It is really hard for any heavy metal fan to dislike these guys.

A photo of guitarist Tomi Koivusaari

Amorphis guitarist Tomi Koivusaari is seen here performing in 2008. He was doing the vocals for Amorphis before the band hired Pasi Koskinen.
Amorphis guitarist Tomi Koivusaari is seen here performing in 2008. He was doing the vocals for Amorphis before the band hired Pasi Koskinen. | Source

The song "Grail's Mysteries"

The song called Grail’s Mysteries starts out like a song that Gandalf would have written. The song is about a man saying that he will have a son that will be very brave. He will be so brave that one day he will be crowned king. The prophecy says that this person will know the secret of the Holy Grail.

The Karelian Isthmus Songs Warriors Trial , Black Embrace, and Exile of the Sons of Uisliu

The song Warriors Trial is basically about warriors who endure such trials and hardship throughout their journey that they ask the Lord to lead them to the Promised Land for all their hard work. The song called Exile of the Sons of Uisliu is about a man named Noisiu who died because of a poisonous drink that he was given yet his death was seen as a very heroic one. In Warriors of Trial,the beginning of this song reminds me of once again, yes, that early death metal influence most notably the days of the album Leprosy by the band Death.

"The Gathering"

How is the rest of the album?

The very heavy song The Pilgrimage is about a man that has been possessed by an evil force and turned his life over to the dark side. Amorphis is not a band that will usually cover lyrical themes that are this dark but the song is a good one. The song called Misery Path is a song about respecting and understanding the real meaning of life when we wake up in the morning as the sun rises. It is too easy to get wrapped up in thoughts about what we hate in our lives. Instead as the band suggests, we should love and respect the fact that we are still alive. The song Sign from the North Side lyrically is similar to The Gathering and it may be a better song. Overall, "The Karelian Isthmus" is a decent death metal album even by Amorphis. However, the musical brilliance that we would hear on 1994’s Tales from the Thousand Lakes is not really present on this album.

There will be a bit of an additional perspective on “The Karelian Isthmus” as one user on YouTube commented about the album saying that it is “one of the best death metal albums ever,” (Amorphis, 1992). Even I am starting to reconsider the score I initially gave this album.


Amorphis (Performer). (1992). The Karelian Isthmus. Helsinki, Finland.

"Grail's Mysteries"

Drummer that plays on this album

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This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.

© 2017 Ara Vahanian


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