HIM, we have all heard the name and probably way too many times from the same people over and over. It seems that between online groupies courtesy of myspace and increase in popularity of sites such as purevolume, music over the net will be music in the mainstream in the not too distant future. While HIM certainly has their fair share of online extravaganzas, their major selling point is none other than Bam Margera. Go into your local CD store and pick up a HIM disk, one thing you will notice is on the packaging a little sticker “HIM is the greatest band on earth" – Bam Margera. (note: I am not a Bam hater at all but this seems downright silly to me.) Anyone involved in skateboarding will tell they have seen HIM on Element boards. It is very common these days for a band with this much publicity to be very overrated and in plenty of cases just plain bad. While HIM doesn’t exactly fit that in that group, they come darn close. They do it in a bit different fashion however, since they are not the rip off of the latest “pop punk phenomenon."
Ville Valo – Vocals
Linde – Guitar
Mige – Bass
Burton – Keyboards
Gas Lipstick – Drums
Upon the first notes of album opener Vampire Heart
a surprisingly neat riff is played. Throughout the album some very nice guitar tones are shown and the keyboards are capable of overlapping it, creating an interesting atmosphere. The overall mix in the album is pretty good. The first sour note comes in Ville’s vocals. While variety is shown at times, the vocals are often very poor. His voice is unique but it seems as though it could be better presented. The attempts of over dubbed harmonization at the end of Vampire Heart
come off very cheesy and rough sounding. It’s a shame since I was actually digging the pinch harmonics a few minutes earlier. Not the best opener, not the worst.
Up next is the chart topping hit and first single Wings of a Butterfly
. The main riff to the song is a good one but the verse formula is quite generic with the palm muted guitar rhythm. While some tiny leads are present in the verse, it just does not seem very convincing. But that’s the least of the concern, it’s all about the chorus for the MTV generation and in terms of catchiness this chorus is a hit. Ville’s voice actually sounds quite pleasing in the chorus minus the low harmonization. His high range is shown at its peak and executed solidly here as he matches up with the music fairly well. The major instrument break in the song is done well with some guitar lines and keyboards in the mix but ending with the chorus afterwards is just way too predictable and it brings the song down a bit.
Under the Rose
starts off with some very nice keyboard playing and is soon complimented by a distorted guitar. The verse structure is very interesting, with Ville singing under the standard palm mute guitar and the keyboard coming in after every measure. A little vocal pause throughout the verse with cool keyboard playing is a definite plus to the song, adding to variety. For the first time on the album the vocal harmonization works out great. The little breakdown makes it seem as though the song is going bad, but it goes back to its normal tempo and a nicely fitting guitar line is played. With some great guitar and keyboard combinations as well as fitting well executed vocals, Under the Rose
is actually a memorable song as it fads out with keyboard.
is a murder indeed, but the only thing it kills is the excitement created by the previous track. The piano does not seem to work here and drags the song on. The high pitched vocals at the end of the chorus are guaranteed to be a cringer when heard. This track ends up becoming extremely repetitive and does not seem to go anywhere despite its long length at almost 4:30.
With the venomous kiss you gave me
I'm killing loneliness
With the warmth of your arms you saved me
I'm killing loneliness with you
The killing loneliness that turned my heart into a tomb
I'm killing loneliness
People often say HIM’s lyrics are like poetry; I was not expecting this to be true but these are just plain trash, a very poor effort all together.
The title track Dark Light
is a very soft track. Musically, it is mediocre as well as vocally. The vocal pattern is quite smooth through the chorus but a tad boring through the verse. However, the keyboards in the verse help with the song’s flow. A very little tempo change brings a new instrumental sound and than the chorus repeats again. The instrumental bridges into the chorus is being to become very tiresome and the album is only half over.
Behind the Crimson Door
starts off with quite an odd guitar riff. The keyboards do a wonderful job during parts of the song and the match up of the soft keys and distorted guitar shines. A nice riff is introduced around the three minute mark providing a new feel to the song. However, as predictable as can be the song ends with a slightly modified chorus repeating itself. This has just been used way too excessively throughout the album and is bringing down what was shaping up to be a shocker of a decent album.
The over dramatic attempt of an epic intro in The Face of God
drags on. Once the song finally gets underway it sounds very similar to what has already happened on the record; the same style of delivery as previous tracks, nothing new instrumentally and repeating the chorus at the end. It is very ironic how so many of the songs can blend together and all seem to be around the 4:30. The pause before the last line in this song is just downright laugh out loud funny. Drunk on Shadow
does nothing to separate itself amongst the rest of the album for the most part. There is however a nicely placed keyboard fill which has a funk sound to it. A chorus effect guitar riff is played as the song comes to a close, once again not a very strong song as a whole.
does a much better job on the fade in intro than the previous attempt in The Face of God
. The verse is a pretty good one, the chorus on the guitar works superbly over the keys. A rough spot is found in the vocals during the chorus. They seem a bit out of place and change the flow of the song for worse.
I see the seasons changing
And in the heart of this autumn I fall
With the leaves from the trees
Lyrically this song tips the scale towards the negative side. The lyrics just do not come close to matching the hype they receive and in general are quite bad. Aside from the lyrics and some vocal problems, this song has its enjoyable points thanks to the chorus effect on the guitar with the keys atop of it.
And it is that time, the closer of the album is In the Nightside of Eden
. The keys are the focus of the intro as the guitar plays rhythm while the rest of the band keeps it tight. Ville attempts to go a little too far out of his range and it is an easy to realize. His harmonization is a very poor effect yet again. The smooth keyboard is one of the few pluses found in the finale of this record. Vocally, as well as guitar wise this song sounds very bland and repetitive. It is official that this closer is a difficult one to get through, especially with the awful low voice outro.
Hype is a weird thing which might have played a part in lowering the enjoyment of this record. While this album is far from what it is claimed to be, there are some fine moments to it. One definite all right trait in this album is despite it being under-par at times; it is very hard to compare HIM to bands you hear about on a daily basis. A bit of credit needs to be given to the fact that they are not trying to rip of the latest band to make those with estrogen go crazy. The keys and guitar layering is quite enjoyable, but the lyrics are in need of some repair, the bass could stand out more, and the vocal delivery could be altered. Until than, HIM will be making average music which is actually more than what plenty think of them.
- some enjoyable guitar riffs
- great guitar/key layering
- not a complete rip off sound
- vocal harmonization and delivery is in need of work
- same formula used too often
- at best par lyrics do not add up to the publicity they get
- while songs are long, they can often drag
- downright boring at times
Final Rating 2.5/5