Review Summary: Chapter VIII - Drawn and Quartered
There comes a time in every band's career, when they inevitably have to return to their roots. Whether it's because the fans beg them to or that the band actually wants to, it happens to every group, and HIM is no exception. While Screamworks featured some of the best performances of the band's career, it was the biggest departure from the typical HIM-sound. So 2013's Tears on Tape sees the band going back to what characterized their sound so many years ago: heavy guitars and gritty production, with heartfelt yet melancholic melodies.
In many ways Tears on Tape is the definitive HIM album, as it combines all the elements of HIM's musical work, and balances them out perfectly. A prime example being "All Lips Go Blue" which features just as much Black Sabbath -esque riffing, as well as soothing Roy Orbison -vocal stylings. This mold carries over throughout most of the album, from "Love Without Tears" to "Hearts at War". Having said that the album isn't without its surprises. "Into the Night" is one of the album's strangest yet most memorable moments, with its punk-rock-meets-Chris-Isaak -approach. The album's title track is sonically one of the biggest songs the band has ever written, while the melodies of "Drawn and Quartered" flow beautifully like a river through-out the song.
Tears on Tape is the first HIM-album since Love Metal that gives every member an equal amount of the spotlight. While the guitar does tend to dominate some tracks, overall the album keeps a good balance. Everyone in the band gives a solid performance, save for vocalist Ville Valo. While he isn't bad by any means, his delivery sounds extremely tired and even uninterested at times. One minute he's giving it his all with songs like "Into the Night" and "No Love, the next he's almost phoning it in, like on "I Will Be the End of You". This extremely sad, considering that the group's last album, Screamworks, had Valo deliver the best performance of his career.
As previously stated, Tears on Tape is in many ways the definitive HIM album, in that it combines everything the band is and balances all these elements perfectly. However the major drawback of the album is a lack of energy. While many of the songs are great, some just feel lazy and forgettable. The inclusion of short little interludes is pointless, save for giving the album a longer track listing. While the rest of the band sound tight as ever, Ville Valo seems almost uninterested at times. Still if someone were to ask what HIM are all about, Tears on Tape does give a pretty good representation of the group's music and the band as whole.
"Into the Night"
"All Lips Go Blue"
"Tears on Tape"
"Hearts at War"