Hey, let's have another musical genre argument. You know, the one where a band is mis-labeled, followed by incensed fans and
ProfessorsOfRock™ coming back with any number of variations on "You idiot!" It's so much fun! Heck, back when I reviewed H.I.M.'s Dark Light,
I was informed (without the 'idiot' part) that the band played "goth pop." So be it.
Truth be told, I don't really care what the proper label is because what really matters is this: does the music rock or not? "Yes, hard" is the answer.
Hard, in fact, is the key word here, as this band brings to mind many of the aspects of what, back in the 70's, was called "hard rock". Before we got all hung up on genre specifics, our favorite music was thought of as either "rock" or "hard rock" — and even though some bands straddled the dividing line, it was the amount of induced head-banging that really mattered. Were Led Zeppelin and Blue Oyster Cult rock, hard rock, or even metal? It didn't really matter when you had Spectres or Houses of the Holy annoying your mom through the living room wall!
So sure, Ville Valo's gloomy lyrics of love, doom, and loss do have a gothy feel to them. And yes, Valo's resonant baritone definitely adds to that. What matters to me though, are the crunching guitars, melodies galore, stinging guitar solos, and most important: the degree of head bang-i-tude. Is that a little too Beavis & Butthead for you? Well, you might have a point. Still, when you hear a great song, one that makes you reach for that volume control, are you analyzing or reacting?
Right, I thought so.
H.I.M. has cranked up the heavy on Venus Doom, be it on the dirge like "Cyanide Sun," the title track, or the multi-part suite of "Sleepwalking Past Hope". Is it "goth rock"? Ah, who cares?!