Venus doom

The latest from Finland's purveyors of gothic doom HIM sees Ville Valo & Co. once again trying to take over the US, a task they came pretty darn close to on their last release Dark Light. Surprisingly, Venus Doom is less commercially appealing than Dark Light, as the band has gone for a heavier sound, with a more prevalent guitar crunch, somewhere along the lines of what you would normally hear from a band like Katatonia. Much of the lighthearted, romantic goth of the early days seems to have been traded for a newfound doom metal appreciation, giving this new one a real serious & dramatic flow.
The title track is a catchy yet heavy slice of hard rock, with thick, beefy guitar riffs and ominous vocals from Valo leading the charge. "Love in Cold Blood" is one of the CD's few radio ready songs, with a hook laden chorus and lots of tasty guitar riffs & leads. Bubbling synths and crunchy power chords permeate the gothic & progressive thumper "Passion's Killing Floor", a real dark piece that almost screams for a more aggressive vocal attack from Vilo, who instead opts for his usual crooning. Balls-out metal is all the rage on the crankin' "Kiss of Dawn", easily one of the heaviest numbers this band is ever recorded, with some excellent riffs and a deliciously mysterious vocal performance from Ville. The album's centerpiece is the 10 minute "Sleepwalking Past Hope", part monstrous doom, part orchestral gothic rock, this one has the most powerful & heaviest riffs on the album, plus some truly haunting keyboard layers, but also manages to have some seriously catchy melodies as well.
Another radio friendly piece is "Dead Lover's Lane", complete with symphonic keys and a catchy chorus, and "Bleed Well" wants to be a raging rocker, but is another one of those songs that probably could have been a tad more successful had Vilo tried to allow a little more venom creep into his vocals. The album closer "Cyanide Sun" is a depressive, doom laden dirge, complete with slow, bone-crunching guitar riffs, haunting piano, and heart tugging vocals.
Whether Venus Doom becomes the huge hit here in America that HIM is hoping for remains to be seen. Although it's indeed heavier and perhaps more cohesive than Dark Light, there's certainly nothing as commercially acceptable here as "Rip Out the Wings of a Butterfly", "Under the Rose", and "Killing Loneliness" from that album. Let's see what happens.

Pete Pardo

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