XX - Two Decades of Love Metal
Reviewing ‘best of’ albums is often difficult, as there is little, if anything, that a fan of the act will not have heard before. However, for someone not very familiar with the band, it can serve as a fantastic introduction.
HIM, or His Infernal Majesty, are one of those bands that many people have heard of, and perhaps even more have an opinion of. They are a very polarising band - many metal fans, generally female between the age of 14 and 21, think that they are the greatest thing since sliced bread and can do no wrong. Others, myself included, feel that they are over-hyped, and have been branded well, but that their act is merely one of style over substance. They are the sole members of the ‘Love Metal’ genre (‘Love Metal’ also happens to be the name of their 4th studio album). The band’s ‘Heartagram’ logo is still one of the most popular tattoos among young metalheads.
My sole experience of HIM isn’t from records – I saw them as main support to Metallica at Wembley Stadium, where following Mastodon and Machine Head, they sunk like a lead balloon, not helped by the fact that Ville Valo didn’t seem to want to be there anyway. So putting on the album, I was wary to say the least. And I think I was proved correct in being cautious.
First impressions of the collection as a whole – boredom. There was nothing to get excited over. So I gave the album another listen, and I found myself wishing I had the two and a half hours that I had spent listening to the album back (yes, the album comes in at over 75 minutes). Taking each element on its own – the drumming is alright, guitars acceptable, keyboards are there, bass was average. Perhaps the weakest part of the whole collection is Ville Valo’s voice – he drones, there doesn’t appear to be any passion in his performance on ANY of the tracks. And as the band’s main songwriter, he needs to understand that adding some overt melody to songs is key to helping anything stand out!
This album has received critical acclaim from various sources – much like I don’t understand the band’s appeal, even to teenage girls, I don’t understand critics appreciating this collection. There’s a lack of actual songs, there’s nothing to keep the interest over the course of the length of the album. Of course, I’ll get slated for saying these things – it is apparently sacrilegious to slate the Finnish band. But, considering one of the people who had the misfortune of listening to the album with me commented that “they sound like bad Spanish waiters in a bad Spanish restaurant, shut up and let me eat my food already”, I don’t think I’m alone in this thinking.