Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights- HIM

Release Year: 2001

Rating: 8.5/10

On HIM’s second album, the band seemed to abandon their dark roots and took more influence from pop music. While this led to some great songs, it resulted in a mediocre album that felt like something was missing. The band must’ve realized this too because they went back to their roots for their third album. The music takes on a somber tone filled with Ville’s sweet voice and the songs seem more thoughtful than before.

The album starts out on a weird note with “Salt in Our Wounds.” What makes the song so odd is the funky music that starts off the track. It has a weird drumbeat that sounds like a million toothpicks being used as drumsticks. There are even times when chimes are heard during the intro. This sequence is topped off with a twanging guitar that sounds like it was taken from a Western. But once you get pass the odd music, it’s actually a good song. The vocals sound great and there’s a cool guitar solo that guitarist Linde is known for. You even manage to get used to the funky music by the end of the song.

From there on, the album flows pretty well. The songs never run on too long and are all great. “Lose You Tonight” has a great hypnotizing guitar riff that lures you in. Even though there’s no explanation for the eagle cawing during the intro, it’s still an awesome song. The music is intense, yet it manages to get you moving. The haunting slow track “In Joy and Sorrow” shows a return to the band’s dark roots with Ville sweetly singing about the loss of faith in a cold world. “Beautiful” may be an unapologetic love song that borders on sappy, but it’s still a great song. The music sounds pretty with the odd, creepy keyboard and the mellow guitar playing. It’s great how the music and the singing grows more intense towards the end, as if it hurts that this girl is so beautiful.

The only awful song on the record is “Don’t Close Your Heart.” For the most part, the album is somber and mellow. This song sounds bright and upbeat, which wouldn’t be bad if it weren’t for how cheesy the song is. It sounds like a bad pop tune from the 80’s complete with mindless lyrics and twinkling keyboard riff that makes you cringe. Ville constantly repeats “Baby don’t close your heart” for the entire chorus. The awesome melodic guitar solo can’t save this song. There are actually several versions of this album that feature bonus tracks. I really wish they would’ve picked one of the bonus songs for the album, rather than this one. It’s just bad.

As mentioned before, HIM seems to return to their dark roots on this album. When listening to the songs you can easily hear elements taken from their first album. The music sounds more haunting and creepy than their previous work and the songs deal with somber subjects. While themes of love, death, and suffering have never fully escaped their music, they are more obvious on this record. The closing track “Love You Like I Do” sounds like a b-side from their early days with the creepy low vocals, keyboard that sounds more like a church organ, and damning bass riff. This album also seems to have an overarching theme of us against the world. A lot of songs talk about two people having each other in a cruel world that just wants to bring them down.

What makes the album so much better than their previous effort is the music is varied here. On their last album, everything sounded pretty much the same, especially the guitar playing. Here, the band seems to play around with different instruments to expand their sound. Also, while the guitar playing still has some great, rocking solos, the music isn’t as guitar driven as before. You can also find more instances of acoustic guitar being used rather distortion from the electric. With the music sounding different in each song, it really keeps the album moving and prevents the songs from getting stale.

Overall, the album gets 8.5/10. Besides Ville looking good on the cover, it’s a great improvement from their previous album with the band returning to the dark elements and themes found on their first record. Though one of the songs is just awful, the rest of them are great and at times even catchy. This is a strong record that shows promise from the band. Everything is tighter here and the songs are have more depth than before. The band just seems more focused here than before and they would use the energy found here for their next album.

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