In February, Finnish HIM releases their much anticipated album “Screamworks: love in theory and practice, chapters 1-13”. Close-Up listened to it in London and spoke to singer Ville Valo.
- The feeling we were going for when we wrote it was American rock ‘n roll balls meets something synthetic and androgynous, the front man summarize.
The opening, “In venere veritas”, is a happy piece, far away from the well-known HIM melancholy, and reflects what will distinguish the whole album. The presence of a Tim Burton atmosphere goes back to the Christmas song quality of a song like “Dark light”, while the guitar works are strictly frugal and sometimes resembles Eddie Van Halens, minus the absurd pace. The icy clinking keyboard in “Scared to death” isn’t as characteristic for the song as American bitter sweet feeling in the verse, with drums like Foo Fighters and bubbly arena proposal that feature “Heartkiller”.
Not until “Dying song” – a couple of steps down tempo – you recognize the typical HIM sound with gothic rock that meets power ballad. Even slower is “Disarm me (With your loneliness)”, where the ballad feeling is followed by an iffy guitar solo and lyrics about three sixes and temptations. Everything seems right, and suddenly “Love, the hardest way” shows up, that could be a Green Day cover with Killers (“American Mormons settled in Las Vegas can’t transmit the same melancholy as we can”, Ville retorts).
“Katherine Wheel” continues on the same pop punk sound, far away from what you’d expect from HIM. The song is meanwhile the most melodic sophisticated element so far. “Shatter me with hope” is the weakest add to the album, while “Acoustic funeral (For love in limbo)” lifts it up. “Like St. Valentine” exhorts a testosterone level that makes the band stumble around in the locker room of Nickelback. In the experimental ending “The foreboding sense of impending happiness”, the group comes as close to an industrial sound picture as HIM will ever come. At a first impression, the album – compared to its forerunner, the doom sounding “Venus Doom” – seems more extroverted and available, with a dominant American character, possibly has the producer Matt Squire something to do with it.
- I can unfortunately not counter you analysis with one of my own, I’m still so close to the album. I don’t know what to say about the songs, all I know is if the drum is loud enough or if the hi-hate needs reducing. We’ve worked for so long, I’ve lost all of my perspective. But I’m looking forward to listening to the album again in a while and finding out what I really think.
- The title is pretty immediate and urgent, and that’s how the album is. That was something we weren’t aware of when we wrote the songs. “Venus Doom” was described as a My Bloody Valentine meets “Master of puppets”. Ville is still gladly speaking in references – but this time it’s another kind of ideal.
- We thought of Foo Fighters meets A-ha. We wanted the keyboards to sound like keyboard, not bows or piano, no fake. We used to call “Heartkiller” David Hasselhoff, because the sound reminded us of the theme song of the old TV show “Knight rider”. It would sound like the ‘80s, but with a cozy American rock feeling to it. In guitars, we thought of Randy Rhoads, Eddie Van Halen and Mick Ronson, who used to play with David Bowie during his glam period.
Another of Ville’s models is Depeche Mode around “Violator” and Guns N’ Roses. The singer highlights the crash between masculine rock and the androgynous music from the ‘80s.
- This is a very metrosexual album.
What are you putting in the conception of metrosexuality?
Ville laughs excusing.
- Men who take good care of their hygiene, that’s all I mean. Lemmy Kilmister in a Prada suit – that’s how our album is. At least ideologically seen.
And lyrically seen? Just guess…
- Love is the force in my life. It’s the easiest thing to write about as well, because I experience it as universal as the same time it’s personal. When it happens, it happens and you don’t have to think so much. Your jaw drops to the ground, your knees are shaking, the colors around you change, the tastes change… Everybody knows what it’s like at its best. And it doesn’t have to go much further. Love doesn’t need to be fulfilled, so to say, to be a magnificent experience.
Translation from Swedish to English by rejectin from valo_daily