This album is a truly hypnotizing and chilling record. Amorphis moved away from their experimental death metal roots and passed through a short transitional era to arrive at a very progressive and experimental point of their career. This album has many interesting folk elements, some from the band's Scandinavian origins but also a few ones from the Arabian and Indian cultures. There also a lot of jazz influences to hear that give a progressive touch to the album. Flutes, saxophones and especially keyboards get more and more prominent and the metal passages are much smoother and cleaner than before. In comparison to many other progressive bands, that doesn’t mean that the album is overloaded and complicated as Amorphis have the rare talent to create catchy diversity in a rather short length.
Some erupting death metal parts like in the still very experimental highlight "Greed" or the short and sweet and still very modern bonus track "Northern lights" become exceptions while dreamy and floating progressive metal tracks like the unusual opener "The way", the very jazzy folk track "Nightfall" or the hypnotizing title track "Tuonela" dominate this album. It's rather difficult to point any particular song out as the album works as a whole structure. The single "Divinity" has been chosen because the song has a slightly addicting chorus but that's the only thing that points a little bit out. But in the end, this album drowns you into a unique atmosphere and won't let you out until the very end as there is no change of style, no filler and no interlude in this album. Once you listen to the first seconds of the album you are already caught in a very hypnotizing mood. This is a perfect melancholic record for stormy or rainy autumn days. This album has a unique mood. I would even go as far to say that this album has a very particular soul. There is a lot of light and shade to discover in this masterpiece. The album cover of a mysterious flower in front of a somewhat light but still depressing brown background perfectly illustrates the musical content. Any open minded metal head should check out this album no matter what he normally listens to. It's worth being discovered.
Even though I happen to like every single album that Amorphis made with their amorphous style and constant progression, I think that the era that begins in here with "Tuonela" and continues with the brilliant "Am Universum" and that is slightly included on "Elegy" before and "Far from the sun" afterwards is the my favourite époque of the band. It's something very emotional, progressive and unique that I have never heard before while the other albums are great and all very entertaining but maybe lacking of this uniqueness and soul that is present in here. From an objective point, "Tales from the thousand lakes" and "Am Universum" are both very close to perfection but personally, I prefer the second one. That being sad, I must underline that you should check out "Am Universum" if you happen to like "Tuonela" as it is even a little bit greater in my opinion.