For centuries, philosophers pondered the age-old question: Is evil something you are, or something you do? After years and years of deliberation,
His Infernal Majesty solves the question: Evil isn't something you are or even something you do. It's something you strive to be, mostly just to
impress your dirthead friends, scare your teachers and annoy the living hell out of your dad and mom. And to think, all those eggheads were wrapped
up in the dissolving human nature for so long.
Wrapping up another batch of teen-friendly metal and Goth cliches, the Finnish merchandising empire fires it up for another run through teenage wasteland. Or rather, that half-assed wannabe-wasteland where disaffected suburban teens go when the middle-class lifestyle gets too boring to endure, yet too comfortable to leave. It's the soundtrack of every spoiled, indignant teen bubbling up again.
Whipping up a generic morass of off-the-rack metal riffs (Venus Doom owes a lot to failing, later-years Metallica) and romanticized Gothic themes (those worlds where love and death are nearly indistinguishable), H.I.M. wheezes through a set so clunky you have to be either your subdivision's angriest virgin or virtually ignorant of both of Goth and metal's high points to be tricked into enjoying H.I.M.'s melodramatic tripe. And, oh, the melodramatic tripe. "The Kiss of Dawn" melds pseudo-rockin' riffs that are more Queensryche than Metallica with a Gothic aesthetic picked up from the Hot Topic mark-down rack. "Bleed Well" and "Passion's Killing Floor" chisel the makeup off glam-metal guitars, roll them around in a bit of dirt and writhe around in the sort of unintentionally hilarious pseudo-pain that's synonymous with bad high-school poetry, the worst kitchen hack-job tattoos and World of Warcraft addicts.
H.I.M. knows what it's doing. Although Venus Doom ramps up the mainstream metal influences enough to flirt with mainstream radio play, the band hasn't turned its back on its bread and butter: Helping confused teenagers confuse boredom with anger, alienation with tragedy and melodrama with consequence. It's easy to see how today's teens could be so easily manipulated -- but H.I.M. is still ineffectually striving to prove itself worth an iota of grown-ups' attention.