December 5, 2010 by Dan Swinhoe
HIM have had it hard over the years, when they released good albums and found success they were blasted by diehard metalheads (wrongly) for getting famous only due Bam Magera sported Heartagram tattoos, and when they faltered they were thrown to lions.
Despite this and the fact the last couple of albums have been below par they have become one of the biggest goth rock bands around, and with new L.P ‘Screamworks’ this looks like a good year to come.
Ville Valo’s crew hit a high with 2003’s ‘Love Metal’ and after 4 albums of creative highs the bubble had to burst. 2005’s ‘Dark Light’ wasn’t terrible but the popper, diluted sound to try and gain bigger things in the U.S failed. And ‘Venus Doom’ went too far the other way, creating a doom and gloom album riddled with melodies and it just didn’t quite all fit together. Ville’s alcoholism and poor live shows (and at one point a moustache of Shakespearian proportions) make the quality of this new album even more satisfying.
While they haven’t ignored the last seven years, they have managed to mould the newer elements to that core ‘HIM’ sound better than they have for a while, giving the whole album a cohesion and flow that was sorely missing.
Opener ‘In Venere Veritas’ is the perfect example of this new, old HIM sound: the heavy but catchy riffing, the crooning voice, it all just feels to fit. Ville’s voice has the power it’s been missing, and the time changes and different parts of the song come together.
The prominence of the Synths maybe be part of Ville’s wish to have a more 80’s sound, but they add to the layers of the songs, rather than detract, the lead single Heartkiller shows how well it can work, mixing the chugging guitars with the pop synth tones.
‘Disarm me’ is the slow ballad but doesn’t sound forced, but like a band enjoying themselves again
The first half of the album is a return to form, and could have sat nicely on any of the other albums, the second shows real progression, and how good a band really are.
‘In the arms of rain reminds you how good a guitarist Linstrom really is, and when he is let loose he stands shoulder to shoulder with any of the more well known players, the solo in ’shatter me in hope’ is especially impressive.
‘Like St. Valentine and ‘Acoustic Funeral’ power on and by the time it’s all over you’re left wanting more, the songs never outstay their welcome, and Valo really puts his all into the songs, showing a side he’s only ever hinted at before.
While it’s still not their best record,and shit cover aside this is the HIM album that fans wanted and should have followed ‘Love Metal’. The songs are memorable, heavy yet mellow. And it has that classic quality that the early albums had that made them so special.
There will still be metalheads booing them, but at least now they have the music to argue back again. And Bam Magera can be proud of his heartagram tattoos again.