A few years ago, I was suffering from insomnia. One late night, I found myself endlessly channel surfing until I stumbled onto “Last Call with Carson Daily” where the Finnish “love metal” band H.I.M. was performing some song where memories were “sharp like daggers” and each underage girl in attendance had memorized every gothic syllable.
In the fog of that night, I made a mental note to check up on how H.I.M. has created a legion of pale ‘n primped teenage chicks at the ready under his black-painted fingernails.
The thing that honestly surprised me about 2005’s Dark Light was how un-heavy it all sounded. Shit, if you’re going to make up a genre like “love metal,” don’t you have to have a few heavy guitars (i.e., the “metal” part) underneath your nocturnal tales of pitching woo?
Fuck yes you do; file that shit under “weak sauce.”
Apparently, someone over at the H.I.M. camp felt the same way, as the band’s sixth album, Venus Doom, professes to be their heaviest yet, one that reportedly used Metallica’s Master of Puppets and My Bloody Valentine’s Loveless as reference points. Of course, Venus Doom sounds absolutely nothing like those two albums, and as far as the “heaviest” claim goes, you’ve got to consider the fact that it’s lead vocalist Ville Valo that moves the merchandise, not the dudes in the trenches coming up with the jug-jug-jugs and double-bass drum kicks.
Smothering some pretty nifty riffing and tight performances is Valo’s breathy swoon and overdramatic hiccups, delivering some fairly innocuous Goth poetry. It gets to the point where you go beyond rolling your eyes at some of the shit he’s come up with (“Sorrow rebuild me as I step out of the lights / Misery strengthen me as I say my goodbyes”). Instead, you actually start to believe that he lives in a castle and sleeps in a coffin because, well honestly, because he just won’t shut the fuck up about how dark he is.
Credit Valo and for sticking to his guns, hooking up with some fairly notable spokespersons, and riding this thing to recognition (Dark Light went gold, seemingly, right under everyone’s noses). Like or loathe them, H.I.M. have managed to achieve success on their own terms and Venus Doom certainly won’t hinder their hoody sales down at Hot Topic.
The problem for me is: I don’t shop at Hot Topic and my subscription to Fangoria is creepier than anything these fellas can muster up.
H.I.M. – “Kiss Of Dawn”