Dark Light

Venus Doom – HIM

 

Release Year: 2007

Rating: 6/10

Everyone has that one album they tried to like – this is that album for me. I gave this record so many chances thinking it might have been me; maybe I was too quick to dismiss it. Maybe it’s one of those albums that gets better with age. I could be completely wrong about the LP, like I was about Scream, Aim, Fire. But after revisiting it once again, my feelings have not change. I still think this is the band’s worst album despite their good intentions.

The album seems to start off on a good note with opening tracks “Venus Doom” and “Love in Cold Blood.” Hearing the heavy crunchy guitars, energetic beat, and familiar themes of love and death, I thought maybe I was wrong about the LP. But then the big issue kicked in with both tracks: changing gears midway through. On “Venus Doom” after the standard guitar solo, the music slows down to a light lullaby while Ville Valo puts on his deep throat vocals to sound menacing. The whole thing just doesn’t work and feels corny. On the latter track, right when it should end the band picks up the pace and rock out, which doesn’t add anything to the song aside from making it longer. Unfortunately, this issue pops up constantly throughout the album.

So many of the songs like “Passion’s Killing Floor” and even the strong “The Kiss of Dawn” suffer from musical changes. For some reason, the band decides to shift gears and switch up their playing. The problem is it rarely does this smoothly. It often comes off as abrupt making the song as a whole disjointed. “The Kiss of Dawn” is actually one of the better songs from the album, but unless you’re listening to the radio edit, a light muted melody is tacked on at the end. It doesn’t fit in with the song and just makes it longer than it needs to be. It’s such a disappointment because you’ll be rocking out to the song and suddenly it’s like another track is playing when it’s still the same one. It ruins the flow of the music and makes the song dull.

Then there’s “Sleepwalking Past Hope,” which is ten unbearable minutes of slow, soft music, lilting vocals, and lots of melancholy. Like so many of the other tracks, it starts off well with a somber, haunting piano riff that lures you in. But before you can get into the song distorted guitars replace this music making you wonder why it even started with the somber riff at all? It continues with the heavy guitars for about five minutes before it switches tempo and slows down again. After that, a wild solo pops up out of nowhere trying to wake you up and make you remember you’re listening to the song. The entire thing is so entirely drawn out. Did it need to be ten minutes? No fucking way. There is no justifiable reason why the song needed to be so long. All it does it does is bore you before the thing ends. Some bands know how to make lengthy songs that are exciting; HIM is not one of those bands. This album also has their shortest song “Song or Suicide,” which is so short it just feels pointless.

There are a few times when the band gets it right, like on the catchy “Bleed Well.” This is standard HIM all the way: heavy guitars, light melody, and images of love and death. It’s just so satisfying to hear, especially after all the other poor tracks. There’s a memorable guitar riff that opens the song, followed by Valo coyly singing “You had demons to kill,” which will melt you if you used to (or still) crush on him. Another good track is “Dead Lover’s Lane,” which sounds like a leftover from their previous effort Dark Light. It’s another one that sounds like classic HIM and even has a shift in sound during the bridge, but this time, it’s actually good. It flows really well instead of sounding like two different songs.

I really tried to like this album, but no matter how many times I listen to it my feelings are the same. Even if the band didn’t suddenly change tempo in the middle of the songs, it would still be a weak album. Most of the songs are okay at best, otherwise, they’re a little too familiar. And anyone who’s been following the band before this will most likely miss the keyboards, which they swapped out for more guitars. Sure, maybe it is their heaviest album in terms of some of the music, but it doesn’t keep listeners from losing interest. It also has some of their cheesiest lyrics that sounds like they’re taken from a bad goth poem. It’s time to face the truth; I just don’t like this album.

Dark Light- HIM

HIM_-_Dark_LightRelease Year: 2005

Rating: 7/10

I’ve never been a huge fan of this album, as some of you may know. While there are a number of great songs here, most of them are dull and unremarkable. Oddly enough this is HIM at their brightest and softest. A lot of the songs are mellow with bright sounding riffs. Rather than having hard rock inspired tracks, most of them are somber and and even at times relaxing. This doesn’t make the album any better or worse, but it’s a noticeable difference from their previous release. While it’s not their worse records it is far from their best.

As I mentioned before the album starts out really strong with memorable songs, such as the opening track “Vampire Heart.” I love this riff because it sort of sounds like a high pitched version of the Michael Myers theme. Something about it pulls you in to the song and it’s one of the best found here. As usual there are many dark and melancholic images to be found here, such as one of my favorite lines “I am the nightmare waking you up.” Also, Ville just sounds really good here. It’s as if you can hear his presence as a singer grow stronger and stronger on each record and it comes out really well here. Another great song and one of their most well known is “Wings of a Butterfly.”

“Wings of a Butterfly” has one of HIM’s best and most memorable riffs. It grabs you and it’s so damn catchy; it really makes you pay attention to the song. The image of ripping off the wings off a delicate creature is so gruesome and cruel. It takes something beautiful and makes it ugly, something the band does very well with their other songs. Also, this is where we begin to hear the brighter sounding HIM. It’s interesting how the riff sounds very bright, instead of really dirty and hard like most of their music. While I wouldn’t call it their best song, it’s still one of their finest.

“Under the Rose” and “Killing Loneliness” are both good songs for different reasons. What’s interesting about the former is the opening sounds so pretty even when the distortion comes in. This is pretty different for the band. While none of their songs are super brutal not too many of them can be described in this way. Thanks to the music and the lyrical content the track has an overall light and flowing vibe to it. HIM have always been good songwriters, but what makes this song so great is the lyrics paint a story as you’re listening to it. You can visualize everything Ville is saying. “Killing Loneliness” on the other hand, has a great somber piano riff that sets the tone for the entire song. This is another one of their darkly beautiful singles. It’s another one of those tracks you fall in love with.

It’s at this point where the album falls flat. While the songs on the second half of the record aren’t all terrible, most of them are dull, too slow, or just don’t stand out. “Dark Light” has this really bright sounding music that ends up sounding cheesy. If anything it sounds like something a boy band would use for one of their soft, sensitive numbers. While some of the lyrics aren’t bad, the chorus sounds corny and forced, as if Ville doesn’t believe in the song himself. There is a cool guitar solo during the bridge, but it’s not enough to save this track. “Behind the Crimson Door” is not bad, but again the music is so light and bright it’s borderline corny. There are some good lyrics here, such as “To watch the summer killed by fall,” but there’s nothing else remarkable about the track.

As I mentioned before this is where HIM seems to tone down their music on the album. None of their songs have been super hard core, but a lot of the riffs and music are dirty and full of distortion. Here, the riffs are varied with a lot of the music coming off as mellow and soft. While it does work for some of the tracks, it does cause the album to lag a bit. It’s fine that they slowed it down for this record, but what could’ve made the album better is if they included faster songs to keep it moving and to stop it from getting boring.

Overall, the album gets 7/10. While there are some great songs here and some that are their most popular, most of the record grows dull after awhile. The tracks are not remarkable, nothing about them stands out, and some of them sound corny. HIM takes things slower here and while this isn’t bad, but after awhile the slow numbers grow tiring and get boring. If the band would’ve mixed some of their harder material with their softer songs the album would’ve fared better, but unfortunately this effort isn’t their greatest.

Rank the Albums: HIM

Although HIM hasn’t been present in the music scene for the past few years, there was a time where you couldn’t get away from them. Whether it was their sexy front man Ville Valo or their romantic songs about love and death, the Finnish band was unstoppable in the mid-2000’s. They have some killer albums along with some that should’ve never been released in their catalog and here they are ranked from their absolute best albums to just the plain bad ones.

The Absolute Best

Greatest Love Songs Vol. 666

HIM-GreatestLovesongsVol666

Some fans may disagree with me here, but I think this is one of their best albums yet. If you’re familiar with their later material this album may surprise you a bit. It’s very dark, not just in lyrics, but in sound as well. A lot of the songs sound like they’re coming from the bowels of Hell. There are some great tracks here like “Sweet 666,” “Beginning of the End,” and their doom infested cover of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Don’t Fear the Reaper.” It’s an impressive debut that definitely gets you talking about HIM.

Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights

Deep_Shadows_and_Brilliant_Highlights

Not only does Ville look hot on the cover, the album itself is stellar. Here, the band makes their sound bigger by bringing in different instruments. They also return to the dark sound found on their first album. The themes are very somber resulting in a moody record. It’s not the album that brought the band mainstream success in America, but it did garner them the hit singles “In Joy and Sorrow,” “Pretending” and “Heartache Every Moment.” Out of all the albums from their catalog this one is underrated.

The Good

Love Metal

HIM_Love_Metal

This is the album that made the band popular in the States and worldwide. It’s a pretty slow record with some fast paced songs strewn throughout. It also introduced the world to one of the most recognizable band logos ever: the heartagram. Some of the band’s biggest hits are found here, including “The Sacrament” and “Buried Alive By Love.” The band was also heavily endorsed by Bam Margera when the album came out. The extra exposure didn’t hurt the band at all.

Razorblade Romance

HIM-RazorbladeRomance

This album definitely has some great songs on it like the ever popular “Join Me in Death” or the rocking “Right Here in my Arms,” but it’s lacking something. Maybe it’s because the band moved away from their dark sound for their second album in favor of conventional rock music. It’s not a bad album by any means, it’s just not as good as their some of their others. Also, some of the lyrics to these songs are just corny. It’s like they were tying to be romantic yet super Gothic at the same time. It didn’t work very well. Just listen to “Heaven Tonight” to understand what I mean.

Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice

The last album released by HIM in 2010 isn’t as great as some of their early work, but it’s far better than their material after 2004. It’s not dark like their past work, but there are some good songs that remind you the band’s not dead yet. “Like St. Valentine,” “Heartkiller,” and “Shatter Me with Hope” are all rocking songs that manage to be catchy too. It actually reminds me of the stuff found on their second album.

The Bad

Dark Light

Sigh…Darklight. This is an album I really wanted to like, especially since the singles were so good. “Wings of a Butterfly” has such an infectious, trilling riff that catches your attention and “Killing Loneliness” is a bittersweet song that you can listen to over and over again. There are actually quite a number of really good songs here, but what makes it so bad is that the second half of the album is boring. The songs are long and drawn out with nothing to keep your attention. HIM has done slow songs in the past, but these were just painful to get through. Maybe if they worked on the album longer it would’ve been much better.

Digital Versatile Doom

This is the band’s only live album and it should stay that way. Look, HIM’s not that interesting live. Ville just stands there wiggling his hips every now and again because he knows he’s sexy. In their early days he used to smoke and drink onstage as well, but he decided to tone it down. It’s not that they sound bad, it’s just that they don’t sound any different from the records. The album doesn’t pump you up and get you energetic like live albums should. Not even the bonus live DVD can save this release.

Venus Doom

If there’s an album I hate more than Darklight it’s this one. Again, the singles released for the album, “Bleed Well” and “Kiss of Dawn,” are really good, but the rest of the album is just a mess. The band are all over the place here. A lot of the songs will start out really well with great music and catchy lyrics. Then it’ll suddenly change style and tempo in the worst possible way that leaves you with the question what the fuck just happened? It’s like they were cramming two songs together and failed to make them mesh well enough so no one would notice.

Die Hard Fans Only

Uneasy Listening Vol 1 and 2

These albums aren’t bad, but if you don’t like remixes or acoustic versions of songs then these aren’t the records for you. They’re full of b-sides, remixes, and alternate versions of their songs that were often found on their singles. Some of the tracks are really good like “Dark Secret Love,” but most of them are odd or just throwaways. But these are a must have for a HIM collector.

SWRMXS

Again, this is another for any collectors out, but the album itself is horrible. I know we want remixes to put a fresh spin on our favorite songs to make them new again, but there’s a limit. There seems to be no traces of the original song in any of these tracks. It’s a very confusing experience. None of the remixes are memorable and they’re hard to listen to because you try to relate it to the songs on the album. I don’t know what possessed them to release a remix album, but hopefully they won’t do it again.