HIM are the most successful Finnish export since Hanoi Rocks, prosthesis-clad-Eurovision-party-crashers, Lordi or even (where are they now?)
goth-lite rocksters, The Rasmus.
Fronted by eye-shadowed, disco-tanned, emo eye candy, Ville Valo, H.I.M began life playing Danzig and Depeche Mode covers. This is their fifth album.
Their sound is grand, gothic metal combined with cod-mysticism, crunchy guitars, thrashy drums and a breathy vocal delivery tinged with effects. This all comes sweetened with poppy choruses, appeal-broadening keyboards and dark, lovelorn regret-tinged lyrics.
Melodically it’s a Frankenstein: The head of Whitesnake, the body of Savage Garden and the floppy, pale and mysterious boy next-door hair of A-ha’s Morten Harkett (unwashed and dyed black of course).
The title track is a strong one. The opening chords are heavier than a bag of spanners and soar into an energetic, and hummable chorus that sticks in your brain like the pointy bit of a freshly sharpened pick-axe, underpinned by chugging guitars and heart-plucking strings.
It’s like listening to Buffy the Vampire Slayer…The Opera. "Watch me fall for you my Venus Doom, hide my heart where all dreams are entombed…" and "Give him a kiss worth dying for..." In other words; it’s gothic mumbo-jumbo meets the hormone drenched teen psycho-drama of Smallville or The OC.
Their tunes are instantly catchy, heavy and melodramatic, and produced with polish and with some great choruses, but the material still sounds dated at times.
After several listens it also emerges that, like the distant clank of rusty chains through the sticky fog of an abandoned abattoir, that they know what works and stick to it a bit too rigidly.
It’s well done but as a whole it lacks sonic variety. And - while I’m pushing the chainsaw in and out of the solar-plexus - without a second voice underpinning it, Ville’s voice isn’t all that.
Having said that there are 6 very good tracks here (the over-long "Sleepwalking Past Hope" and the quite dreary "Cyanide Sun" being the only real stinkers), but you’d already have to like this sort of thing to want to go there. Oh, and place a demonic Hex on everyone that doesn’t like it.