Finnish legends return with 6th studio album... and they still kick ass.
Welcome to my first ever 411 album review, and shit, I couldn’t have started with a harder one to review.
Who? – HIM is comprised of Ville Valo (vocals), Linde (guitar), Mige (bass, backing vocals), Burton (keyboards, backing vocals) and Gas (drums).
What? – You ask most HIM fans and they’ll tell you that HIM are the orginators of Love Metal, a term coined by Valo. However they can be classed as heavy metal, alernative rock or goth metal.
Key Releases – 2005’s Dark Light saw the band gain some press in the States and really brough them to the forefront of their genre. Outside the US, they’re more well known for their earlier sets, Razorblade Romance being the best of the bunch.
Expectations – Personally, I’ve been expecting big things for this album seeing as HIM are my favourite band in the world and have been for a long time. Dark Light was awesome, and I see no reason why the band shouldn’t continue to improve with Venus Doom.
1. Venus Doom
2. Love In Cold Blood
3. Passion’s Killing Floor
4. The Kiss of Dawn
5. Sleepwalking Past Hope
6. Dead Lover’s Lane
7. Song or Suicide
8. Bleed Well
9. Cyanide Sun
Total Running Time: 48:12
Let me just start off by saying that I may come across as really negative in parts of this review based on the fact that previous HIM albums
have been fucking awesome, whereas this one, not so much. But it is a great album.
Valo stated in the weeks leading up to the album’s release that it sounded similar to My Bloody Valentine or Metallica but in all fairness, it really doesn’t (not that that’s a bad thing). HIM have a very unique sound and is one that is easily distinguished. Thankfully, that sound is still clear and apparent here with the guitar-led darkness and awe-inspiring voice of Valo. Valo also said that this album was going to be a lot heavier than previous releases and that much is true, but I’m torn on how much that actually works.
The album kicks off with the sound of a match being stricken followed by an oh-so familiar intake of breath. It’s those little things that are truer to HIM’s sound and they are anything but few and far between. There is, however, less use of the keyboard on this album but where it used, it used phenomenally well. The 20-second keyboard intro for “Sleepwalking Past Hope” gave me fucking chills. The only bad thing is that it didn’t last longer.
Valo’s 100-cigs-a-day voice is the best thing about the band, and his voice is at its best when Ville let’s go and just blasts out those choruses and long notes. Here, there is little of that and a more strained, compressed sound. It’s near depressing at times, parts in "Sleepwalking Past Hope" being a prime example. However, when Ville is singing about less-empty themes, his voice is smooth and delicate. The main single "Kiss of Dawn" shows this off nicely. "Passion’s Killing Floor" is Valo at his vocal (and lyrical) best, just belting out …and to evil we make "LOOOOOOVE-UH!" It’s pure quality.
HIM have resorted back the longer tracks on Venus Doom and I think it has mixed success. HIM do now how to reach an epic climax, "Sleepwalking…" being the best example. That track has a fair few week points in the middle of it but the guitar solo and final chorus are amazing. Unfortunately tracks like “Venus Doom” and “Cyanide Sun” come off as long for the sake of being long and have little depth to them. It doesn’t make them bad tracks though, but there are parts I could do without. Valo has a thing for dramatically slowing tracks down before hitting that final chorus or riff or whatever, and while you might think of that as a good thing, it makes some tracks not flow as well as they should and parts seem really out of place. All that being said, the band really hit the money with “Love In Cold Blood” and "Passion’s Killing Floor".
News things have been tried by the band on this album, some have worked, some not so much, but even those just need a little refining. What HIM have done really well though, is try those new things and combine them with all the stuff they’ve done brilliantly in the past; Valo’s voice, Linde’s driving guitar, and of course, the kick-ass lyrics are all still the factors that makes this a tremendous album. HIM can improve on this effort by changing a small amount of things ever-so-slightly, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that Venus Doom is a great disc. The good far outweighs the bad, by about 1000 to 1. They’ve still got it.
Ville, what’s the obsession with tracks going 5:54?
Top 5 Venus Doom moment:
5. Everything about "The Kiss of Dawn"
4. The first 5 seconds of "Venus Doom"
3. Guitar solo in "Sleepwalking Past Hope"
2. Intro to "Sleepwalking Past Hope"
1. Final chorus of "Passion’s Killing Floor"