HIM frontman Ville Valo seems totally at home sitting poolside at his hotel in L.A. Sipping tea between cigarettes, the lead singer of
the first Finnish band ever to go gold in the U.S. is happy to be back in L.A. after spending months at home recording the band’s follow
up to 2005’s Dark Light, the aforementioned gold record. Then again, if the quintet hadn’t been at home during the dark, cold winter months
they might not have recorded the aptly named Venus Doom, an album that Valo describes as being "Like a trip into my personal hell to a
Musically, the album is the dark, hard rocking soundtrack necessary to accompany Valo’s downward descent. "I felt that we needed a lot less keyboards and there was just going to be more punching to the face type of thing", Valo says, referring to the differences between Dark Light and Venus Doom. "The whole vibe seems fresh cause the direction we had with the last album we couldn’t go further. So the album sonically is a bit more sparse. That’s the direction we’re heading; heavier, doomier, and gloomier, and it’s great to tour that kind of stuff".
HIM will get the chance to see how the new material translates to the stage over the summer when they join Linkin Park, My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday, and more on the main stage of L.P.’s Projekt Revolution tour. "All the bands are kind of crossover in what they do, that’s really interesting", Valo says. "This is the first kind of traveling festival type of thing we’ve done cause they don’t have anything like that back in Europe, so it’s exciting". He’s also intrigued by the eclecticism of the tour. "That’s one of the reasons we wanted to be there", he says of the mix of bands.
When talking about the musical references in the album, Valo rattles off Sabbath and old-school Metallica. That rock authenticity and ferocity are evident from the opening match that kicks off the incendiary title track. The savage intensity is kept up in the machine gun style attack of "Love in Cold Blood", a track that explodes in a vicious guitar solo. The trademark HIM sense of melody is found both in choruses throughout and in tracks like “Dead Lover’s Lane,” as well as the acoustic "Song or Suicide", a track recorded at L.A.’s historic Chateau Marmont.
Working with producer Tim Palmer (U2, Hot Hot Heat, Switchfoot), who helmed Dark Light, and Hiili, the man behind the controls of the band’s first album, the quintet has created a journey through many moods and feelings. Often times, as on the title track, the epic 10-minute plus "Sleepwalking Past Hope", and the Zeppelin-infused closer, "Cyanide Sun", that journey is an intricate one encompassing a diverse series of sonic landscapes in the span of a single song. “In this one we have a bit longer songs so arrangement-wise there’s more differences within the song,” Valo says. "We wanted that contrast, having really nice beautiful melodies and then having that really crunchy guitar thing in there; so to have the balance between the right and wrong so to speak."