HIM - Love Metal
By Mark Hensch
Ahhh yes, Love Metal. Sounds somewhat
impossible, combining one of the world's most cheese-laden emotions with
one of its most devastating styles of music. Say what ever you will, but
HIM (an acronym for His Infernal Majesty) sure have a strange as muppets
style of music on their hands. With their fourth album (at last arriving
via Universal Records in the U.S.A.), HIM make a CD devoted to a genre
that they themselves have created. The Finnish goth rockers have given
us Greatest Love Songs Vol. 666, A Razorblade Romance, and
Deep Shadows & Brilliant Highlights. On those previous albums,
HIM combined catchy pop-metal guitars, the occasional guitar solo, and
(whether or not you like it) simply brilliant lyrics that are almost unflinchingly
In America, the Goth culture is misunderstood
and generally swamped in the music world with a handful of bands who seem
to like pissing off random, suburban parents rather then being truly
gothic. HIM take the fundamental Gothic concept of finding the beauty of
all things (be they positive or negative) and crafts infectious, catchy,
and at times even rocking tunes around it, but always with that same mindset
of a sort of macabre or morbid beauty, often involving the most powerful
of human emotions, love.
Due to a perhaps deeper appreciation for
the stylings of HIM (as opposed to where I live as Goths are often generally
unpopular outcasts and/or whiny attention-grabbers) the European community
has blasted HIM to stardom at a level that American bands like Green Day
or U2 have attained for example. Due to pop-culture loving (*cough Bam
Margera, cough*) HIM inked a distribution deal with Universal Records and
slowly but surely the band's various albums are getting sent over here
with no add-ons and in basically original form. Though in some areas it's
possible HIM is breaking through (I recently caught the end of "A Razorblade
Romance" on a local radio station one day), they have yet to fully break
into the American pop-culture psyche.
After hearing the newest album to be released
Stateside (the band's fourth), and having had import versions already of
Deep Shadows & Brilliant Highlights and A Razorblade Romance,
I'm not totally sure if HIM have a breakthrough in Love Metal. This
album has many strong songs, but some of the material is a bit weak and
I didn't seem to enjoy the more polished style present on this CD as opposed
to their earlier releases.
"Buried Alive By Love" has keyboardist
Burton working the sinister undertones and frontman Ville Vallo has that
superior crooning that sets him apart from many other rock singers. Guitarist
Linde has some 80's like metal riffs and a decent solo near the end.
"The Funeral of Hearts" was a mildly disappointing
(for me anyways) ballad. One of the things I have always like about HIM
(as far back as Greatest Love Songs Vol. 666 even) is the fact that
they can make a softer song and somehow manage to keep it from passing
the line into the realm of sappy music usually. Though this song is ok,
it sounds almost too radio-friendly for my tastes (despite even the lyrics)
and it's power ballad and group choruses make it sound like Gothic sugar.
"Beyond Redemption" floats in with some
glassy keys and then a smacking riff. The HIM band nails it this time around
with a perfectly dark and catchy rock song. "Sweet Pandemonium" is a meandering
fusion of ethereal keyboards, subtle riffing, and Ville Vallo's tortured
"Soul on Fire" is easily one of the most
foot-tapping HIM songs ever, with it's driving metal alternating with slowly-growing
verses and a subtle bass line. The melting guitar solo here is definitely
a highlight, and this is one of the best rock-oriented tracks on the album.
"The Sacrament" is a sweet jammer with
clean piano keys, spacey keyboard effects, and strumming guitars. Strangely
delicate yet never falling into the realm of openly shallow pop-rock, either
the Gothic vocals or the strange beauty of it all allow HIM to commit some
musical sins someone as picky as me might not typically forgive.
"This Fortress of Tears" is a so-so ballad
with various weak and strong points too numerous to discuss...depending
on one's mood, it might make an awesome rock jam or a lame slow song.
"Circle of Fear" is an elegant and almost
majestic song that offers a decent track to sink into towards Love Metal's
end. "Endless Dark" has some transparent sounding effects on the guitars
and keyboards before a loud riff and some drumming kick things off. The
result is sing-along gothic pop rock.
"The Path" is a slower song that is for
most part Vallo's moody crooning over solid guitar parts, slow drum beats,
and epic keyboards. The song's end has some totally sweet guitar solos,
and "The Path" is an excellent end to this CD.
Despite some weaker tunes, Love Metal is
by absolutely no means a terrible album; in fact, I find it already (in
typical HIM fashion) to be growing on me a tad. I wouldn't, however, recommend
this album as a start to the HIM mythos; I enjoyed Deep Shadows &
Brilliant Highlights and A Razorblade Romance somewhat more
then this. If you are missing this album in your HIM collection, however,
by all means stop reading this review and get it. The high-points will
surely defeat the low points, just like in all things love.
a friend about this article
1. Buried Alive by Love
2. The Funeral of Hearts
3. Beyond Redemption
4. Sweet Pandemonium
5. Soul on Fire
6. The Sacrament
7. The Fortress of Tears
8. Circle of Fear
9. Endless Dark
10. The Path
What Do You Think?