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HIM - 'Razorblade Romance'
by Mr. Huh?

Five Star: A look at albums that are so good that they impress even the most cynical of critics. Very few albums are superior enough to obtain a five star rating but occasionally a band slips through the river of mediocrity that is the modern music industry and they produce an album that restores our faith in the future of rock! This series is a look at such albums. 

You ever listen to a CD that made you dance around the apartment air-guitaring, even though you knew that though two of your roommates had gone away for the weekend, your third one was in his room with his girlfriend, early in the morning, having made some moaning sounds with her when you first started listening to the CD, and if they came out and spotted you, you'd merely hand them the album and say to them both, "You've gotta hear this!" 

Over the last decade, many have noticed how Goth music seemed to go from a sad, yet bittersweet melancholy into some clown licking the inner posterior of hermaphrodites, tap-dancing on Hitler moustaches, and sticking their penis into mashed potatoes in order to "liberate people from the lies they've been told" (kudos to Deadsun for the brilliant Marilyn Manson parodies) as their fans consider themselves tr00 individuals for dressing up in black and hating life because their hero told them to.  For those tired of the "I'm more goth than you because I hate my grandparents as well as my parents" crowd, you might want to give HIM's 'Razorblade Romance' album a try.

Though perfectly a beautiful, heart-wrenching tragedy of early Goth, HIM draws more from traditional Metal rather than the Punk influences of early Goth music.  The result is a perfectly produced album where drums keep excellent beat, piano is used on more slower-tempo songs, guitar solos are inserted only where necessary so as to mark either the climax or just before the climax on more heart-pounding songs, and frontman Valo's lush vocals with excellent articulation.
The album starts hard with "Your Sweet Six Six Six" that calms down briefly for the verse lines, yet gets very doomy with the chorus.  Though the title and chorus might make it seem sinister, it's more like both a celebration and cry against that damnable masochistic love that one can't help but feel for an abusive, manipulative fiend.
"Poison Girl" is a confession of a blind, self-destructive kind of lust disguised as tragic love.  Perfect backing vocals to aid the chorus warns of just how powerful love can be at times, but more lustful than loving.
"Join Me In Death" is quite simply the theme song to Romeo and Juliet.  The piano provides a great line of tones that make the chorus seem more hopeful than tragic.
"Right Here In My Arms" is a celebration of togetherness and unity even in the midst of individual conflicts and tragedies with a rough, static-like guitar solo, who's chorus provides a danceable beat even.
"Bury Me Deep Inside Your Heart" is a song of mourning for a soon-to-be departed loved one.  Metallic, echoing piano lines provide an almost tear-stained backdrop.  Remember, our loved ones aren't dead so long as we keep them in our heart.
HIM's cover of the Chris Isaak classic song, "Wicked Game" reverberates along walls, creates echoes, and layers of sounds of charging guitar riffs, Valo's soprano (or is it tenor?) that would do Chris Isaak proud, pounding drums, backing vocals demanding "This world is only going to break your heart", and two, not one, but two soaring guitar solos at different points, interweaving through everything else.  I would say that this cover ranks right up there with the all-time classic covers including Jimi Hendrix's "All Along the Watchtower", Soft Cell's "Tainted Love", and most recently, Johnny Cash's "Hurt" and Gary Jules' "Mad World".
"I Love You (Prelude to Trajedy)" is just what it implies.  Starting off as a whisper, it explodes into a stampeding letter of the pains of further increasingly unrequited love.  The backing vocals are at their loudest and doomiest here.
"Gone With The Sin" is a slower-paced, lush, acoustic track that's actually rather disturbing and borders on necrophilia almost.  Or it could just be a final "I love you so much" before a lover dies and hoping that they rest in peace.  A short solo appears here that gives the song a slight techno feel, but doesn't at all feel out of place.
"Razorblade Kiss" perfectly captures the guilty pleasures that love can lead us to, reminding us that love has no boundaries.  A guitar solo leads up to a sudden repose for the confession of deep, passionate love before going back towards the metallic highway, as it ends with a long, consistent growl almost.
"Resurrection" is almost the summary of a fantasy tale about a man bringing a woman back from death with the power of his love.  A lifting, moving tale/song of the kind of love that not even death can tame.  This song leads without stopping into...
"Death Is In Love With Us".  A power-packed punch and run away from the clutches of the Reaper's greed itself for the pure love existing between two souls.  This song never relents in its struggle to warn of and escape from that damn Reaper.  Full-on ROCK!!!
"Heaven Tonight" brings it down with heavenly backing vocals, but still a hard edge in the instrumentals.  It's heavy, yet romantic.  Not misery-invoking, doomy, or tragic.  Just romantic.  And HEAVY!
"Sigillum Diaboli" is harder and angrier with some chugging riffs behind razor-wired ones.  A yell against abusive treatment that bespokes having been wronged immensely.
The final track, "One Last Time" is just a heavenly tribute to Love itself.  No misery, no anger, no fear, no abuse, no regrets, just love itself and the affirmation of it before we're gone.
Love is the most universal thing there is and as a result is the hardest thing to write about without being cheesy.  HIM have brilliantly and profoundly created a masterpiece fusing Goth and Metal with deeply introspective observations covering misery, hope, rage, forgiveness, and passion as they all take place as different facets of this thing we call love, so more complex than many a teen pop star makes it out to be.

HIM's 'Razorblade Romance' is a great Valentine's Day addition also.  Especially for poor schlubs like me who don't have anyone to share it with.  Enjoy!

CD Info 

HIM - 'Razorblade Romance'
Your Sweet Six Six Six
Poison Girl
Join Me In Death
Right Here In My Arms
Bury Me Deep Inside Your Heart
Wicked Game
I Love You
Gone With The Sin
Razorblade Kiss
Death Is In Love With Us
Heaven Tonight
Sigillum Diaboli
One Last Time
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