Until their last couple albums, which have followed roughly the same stylistic formula, Amorphis were a band that virtually redefined themselves with each record. Well, if Finland’s long-running top metal export are going for a new definition with their latest live document, Forging The Land Of Thousand Lakes, it’s “comprehensive,” as the release encompasses two full CDs and two full DVDs (cleverly delivered in one regular-size digipak), with a live show, a festival appearance, a documentary and a photo gallery. Oh, and guitarist Esa Holopainen contributes liner notes. Simply put, it is a staggering amount of material.
It’s as though Amorphis were asked to make a live record, couldn’t decide what to include, and just went with everything. Live music DVDs are for superfans-only already, since unless you really love the band you’re going to be bored out of your head watching them play a show on your television/computer/whatever, but to expect your fanbase to get through such an inclusive release is really asking a lot. That said, I know several Amorphis fans, and am one myself, and if there’s a contingent of the population willing to take on something of this magnitude, it’s Amorphis fans.
But for casual-listening types, Forging The Land Of Thousand Lakes is going to seem as cumbersome as its title. And if you’re unschooled in the shifts Amorphis has undergone in their 20 years together, your appreciation of hearing and seeing these songs played by the band as they are now just isn’t going to be the same. It’s like sending a kindergartener to AP Calculus. If you count yourself as part of the cult, however, you don’t need me to tell you taking the time to appreciate the performances on these CDs and DVDs is mandatory. You’ve probably already bought it.