AMORPHIS was a huge revelation to me back when I heard "The Karelian Isthmus", so "Elegy" was a huge surprise for as it was for many other fans.
One of the most experimental of Death Metal albums back in the mid nineties, "Elegy" was one of those experiments that sighted forwardness without being dubious for one second, they knew what they were doing, it's all reflected in the music. By composing and recording songs like "Against Widows", "The Orphan" and "My Kantele", the band had proven themselves musically, yet again some would say, the music was open minded and colourful but still conversed the band's Death Metal beginnings, only in a more groovy way.
All songs are classics, with the exception of "Cares"; you never put a dance move part and a reggae part on an album like this. The album gets off to a trippy start with "Better Unborn", those oriental sound flirtations are still present today. AMORPHIS are more detailed on this album, that's why it doesn't sound like a Death Metal record, but those who listen hard enough will find something original. Some of the more "Metal" tracks are the melodic "Against Widows" (a timeless gem) and the Folkish "On Rich And Poor". Tomi´s indecipherable growls weren't always picture perfect, the addition of Pasi Koskinen (SHAPE OF DESPAIR, AJATTARA) made some of the music go a lot smoother and he does have a nice tone.
The most noticeable changes are the clean vocals provided by Pasi and the aforementioned detailed polishing of keyboards and other weird shit like tambourines and sitars. "The Orphan" is the peak of the experimentation on "Elegy" being sung completely by Pasi accompanied by atmospheres and melodies soaked in purity. Like wah wah guitars? Esa is possessed here, hardly stays silent for more than a few seconds, some of his most memorable melodies are found on this album, not as doomy as before, there's more of catchiness and Rock'n'Roll to them.
Lyrically "Elegy" focuses on Finnish literature, namely the "The Kanteletar" a compilation of Finnish poems and ballads based on days of old.
People's opinions on which AMORPHIS album is superior often battle between "Tales From The Thousand Lakes" and "Elegy", a tough decision to make, but I'd say "Elegy" because the songs are richer and the sound is better. (Online February 3, 2004)