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HIM - Dark Light

Label: Sire
Format: CD
Released: 2005
Reviewed By: The Goat


Seems HIM's invasion may be imminent. Or, pardon the bad pun, HIMminent. Why, you may well ask, would I say that?

Several reasons this is so. HIM is now on Sire Records. They had been on Universal last year but something happened and they did not keep with them. This was the first advance. One of the dudes from the Bloodhound Gang liked HIM so much that he set up a record label with Universal with the purpose of releasing HIM's albums in America. Prior to this they were only available as imports or you had to travel to Finland, their native soil. Ville Valo, the front man of HIM, was reported to have said that they would not release anything in America until they conquered Europe first.

 

Many know HIM indirectly. Bam Margera (MTV’s Jackass) is a HUGE fan, to the point of obsessional. Mr. Margera has adopted the Heartagram as his own symbol (this is that heart trapped in a pentagram). He was such a big fan of theirs he directed two videos and brought them over to America for the sole purpose of having them play for him (Mr. Margera) on his birthday. It was a sold out show in Philly.

I can only speculate but I think this was when the invasion plans were made.

Last year they toured the US in support of the re-released material as well as a greatest hit album entiltled “And Love Said No” (This release happens to have my favorite song ever recorded by HIM - a cover of Neil Diamond's song 'Solitary Man' which incidentally they/HIM were/was inspired to record by Johnny Cash's version as reported by Ville Valo in his intro to the song live at the Starland Ballroom NJ).

So up until now, the only available music from HIM was re-released material from 1999 and on (a revamped Razorblade Romance restructured from the original release was the first, with three songs that originally didn't appear on the Finnish version - I have all the versions of this album, uhh yes, I am a freak).

This new album is, well, new. It is the first release to hit American soil at the same time as it hits Europe. And it is not even an import. (Incidentally, this album is also the first that Ville Valo does not appear on the cover, all the others do).

Now, I have been a huge fan of HIM since 1999. I had heard about them prior to that by way of a compilation CD from Nuclear Blast. There was this one band that just stuck out. They were called HIM and the song was called ‘Your Sweet 666’. I loved it. Plus, the audacity of the album title (which at the time I was uncertain if it was a joke or not) which was “Greatest Love Songs Vol. 666”. It didn't hurt that I learned that HIM stood for "His Infernal Majesty" which got serious cool points in my mind.

This release, “Dark Light”, kicks ass. It is an excellent follow up to their back catalogue. The music is both heavy and melodic. It is very dramatic sounding with a wide variety of sound and style. I have heard them described as sounding like an 80's hair band but better. There is equal mix of guitars (with good distortion, distinguishing them from hair metal in my opinion) and keyboards. The drums are never repetitive and add a certain edginess to the songs. The keyboards also help to evoke the emotional aspects of the lyrics but are not over used.

Ville Valo's voice is somewhat like Chris Isaak's, that sort of register. I would be inclined to say that his voice transforms with each lyric he sings. He can be as deep as Type O negative's Peter Steele to a higher register as befitting the emotional quality that he is trying to convey. There is also a congruent level of melancholy and irony in his voice as well.

Lyrically, all HIM's songs are about love (their last album was also audaciously titled "Love Metal," there greatest hits was, as mentioned above, called "And Love said No"), the anguish of desire, the pain of betrayal, and irony found in the (false?) hope of redemption. The lyrics use paradoxical, emotional thematic elements. For example, in 'Under the Rose' the line is "I have been burning in water and drowning in flames/to prove you wrong and scare you away." As well as in 'Drunk on Shadows' part of the chorus goes "lost in a lie/killing ourselves a kiss at a time/devils dance while angels smile".

Anyone who has ever suffered in love's wake will identify with the ill-fated romantic nature of the lyrics. Death and Love tend to be synonymous in a HIM song ('Behind the Crimson Door: "'Your Love will be the Death of me'").

Sometimes, it would seem that these may just be cliche, but if you've ever written a love poem, didn't a great source of material come from cliches? I think the ironic paradoxical tongue in cheek aspect of Ville Valo's words save the songs from being totally cliche adolescent twaddle. As if to suggest that while it is hopeless to fall in love, it is equally hopeless to not.

I recommend this album. In fact, all their albums.

Go. Now. Buy. Let the invasion commence..

 
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