To the extent the I know HIM I hate HIM. In 2011 I listened to Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights and Love Metal, panning both of them and giving the former a rare 3/10. (Music has to be bad for me to go that low.) The ensuing years seem to have mellowed me somewhat or this album is better, I’m not 100% sure. The reason I say that is, though this band is fucking ridiculous, I don’t hate this record with a passion like I hate its successors. Rather I just want to ignore it.
So, as I’ve noted with other HIM albums, Valo has a really strong sense of melody. This sense of melody could be well used in a different genre or, in a theoretical world, I guess it could be used in the metal or metal-adjacent world, if other things were adjusted. (The volume, for instance.) But Valo cannot write English lyrics. As I have noted with my other reviews of this band, Valo has never seen an English cliche he doesn’t like. I can imagine his sales would be significantly hampered by writing and singing in Finnish, but those of us who only want to listen to music with good or at least decent lyrics would have been spared one of the laziest lyricists I’ve ever encountered. If you played a drinking game to HIM’s catalogue – rather, must one album – and that involved doing shots to some of Valo’s favourite English words – such as “love” – you would probably die. At the very least you would be hospitalized.
Their sound remains ridiculous: super catchy melodies, tons of vocals, perfectly distorted guitars – i.e. distorted just enough to make teenagers think they are listing to rock music – drums mixed high enough that it sounds like rock music, and more cheese than you might be able to stand. It’s hair metal for the emo crowd filtered through the lens of post-grunge – it’s so serious, it’s so melodramatic, it’s so over-the-top, and nobody involved seems to realize it’s ridiculous.
The production is clean, of course. You can hear everything really well because, if you couldn’t, maybe someone wouldn’t be able to instantly know the melody. Imagine that.
HIM’s merchandise give the impression of metal. They have included the word “metal” in an album, members often dress in clothes and styles that could be associated with metal (though also goth) but this is manifestly not metal. That drove me so crazy when I reviewed their other two albums that I really shit on them about how unmetal they were. They’re like a shittier, wussier KISS, in that the way they look does not tell you about how they sound.
But I guess I’ve come to terms with that over the years, and I knew what I was getting into this time. (All I had to go on in 2011 was their look and cover art, after all. Oh, and the t-shirts I see at the mall…) If I evaluate this as metal, it’s awful. If I evaluate it as some kind of bastard child of post-grunge, hair metal and the least interesting forms of emo, it’s just very mediocre. I’ve chose to do that this time out of a sense of fairness. (How kind of me!)
This band sucks.