H.I.M.'s eighth album finds them toning down the atmospherics and sheen that were prominent on Dark Light in an attempt to make their heaviest album yet. According to frontman Ville Valo, the ultimate goal was to concoct a sound that combined My Bloody Valentine's Loveless with Metallica's Master of Puppets, and while Venus Doom doesn't quite meet such a lofty goal, it finds them back on track and sounding more metal than ever. There's less ear candy and more prominent riffs in the mix, and some subtle keyboard padding and studio buffing, but the bludgeoning drop-tuned guitars dominate throughout. It's a bigger and badder version of H.I.M. than in the past, and it's largely due to producer Tim Palmer (Ozzy Osbourne, Dredg). Just as the sound of the band has matured, Valo's voice has improved over time, and he experiments with a lower guttural range that fits the mood perfectly. The trademark gloom is as evident as ever within the lyrics and, as always, you can expect to hear the words "suffering," "blood," "misery," and "death" peppered liberally throughout the songs. Of course with lines like, "my heart's a graveyard, baby, and to evil we make love," H.I.M. isn't a band known for profound lyrics, but, at the same time, most fans of the band don't want to philosophize, they want to hear the group rock out, and this release shows them doing precisely that, even harder than before.