HIM
This Is Only the Beginning


5.0
classic

Review

by indietrash USER (27 Reviews)
April 4th, 2007 | 46 replies


Release Date: 1995 | Tracklist

Review Summary: If This Is only the Beginning, I can't wait for more!

This is Only the Beginning contains the first recordings of the Finnish band His Infernal Majesty that are possible to obtain. Recorded in 1995, this is the second set of demo tapes made by the band. Prior to these, a seven-track demo tape - Witches and Other Night Fears, was recorded. But, unfortunately - the only copy of this demo is supposedly in the hands of a band member, Ville Hermanni Valo.

This is definitely unfortunate, because these demo tapes contain what is without a doubt the strongest material yet to be recorded by this band. I usually like to write my reviews as if it is written the same day as the record I'm reviewing is released. This however, proves to be quite simply impossible when I listen to this, and then listen to HIM's latter material.

I won't hide the fact that I do like this band. I can actually honestly say that I enjoy all their songs. So, to get this out of the way at once - this review will definitely be biased. All reviews are. If someone claim they have no opinion on a band or a record at all when they write a review - they are dumb. If I didn't have an opinion, how could I review this" So - allow me to express my opinions over the next few paragraphs.

Let me assure you, expressing my feelings on these tapes isn't an easy task at all. Why" Because I have so many feelings that I want to express! The six tracks make up a very diverse release that manage to touch you in so many ways, one would think it'd end up being shallow at the end. Fortunately for the listener - it's everything but shallow. But that doesn't mean it is possible to enjoy this as a "plain" heavy metal release, e.g. just kick back and bang head whilst paying no attention to the smart lyrics or the at times really exciting chord progression.

Lyrics surely is one of the key words when talking about This Is Only the Beginning, just as it is whenever the name Valo is brought up. His often misunderstood words are being laughed at by metal fans constantly. This doesn't make all that much sense to me though, as I've admired his little pieces of poetry - and especially the ones found on This Is Only the Beginning. I appreciate the consistency. On the albums that were to be released later on, there are single tracks that stand out ("For You", "One Last Time", "Bury Me Deep Inside Your Heart", "Love's Requiem" and "In Love and Lonely" to mention some) - but here, every track is sheer class. From the interpretation of The Case of Charles Dexter Ward, "Borellus" - in which Valo sings about resurrecting the dead with their very own ashes - to the very aggressive stab on Christianity, "Stigmata Diaboli". But perhaps even more so on the three tracks concerning love and relationships (excluding Wicked Game). Like how he cleverly depicts the upsides and downsides of love on "The Phantom Gate". And how he tries to convince the girl that he's the one for her, not that heartless sod she's with now on "The Heartless". (Note - Valo does this in a far more glamorous and magic way than I might be implying.) I found it difficult to grasp the lyrics on "Serpent Ride", simply because all the lines are mesmerizing. I found myself focusing intensively on each single line, failing to fathom the whole piece on the first few listens. Valo paints these little pictures of climbing towards the dark side of the moon, whilst he feeds us beautifully constructed words about writhing in pain in the grace of our love.

Another thing that definitely helped preventing me from grasping the whole of "Serpent Ride", just as well as it prevented me from grasping any track on This Is Only the Beginning during my first few listens was the somewhat unexpected chord progression, and the constant changes of pace and melody. Though Valo's drumming is tight, heavy, punchy and even rather complex at times (far more complex than any of the drumming done on any of the band's albums - including both the drumming by Juhana Rantala and the drumming by Mika Karppinen), it isn't the center of attention. Neither is the deep and just as tight bass, also played by Valo. The two elements that certainly steals the most attention (not counting the lyrics now) are Valo's vocals and Mikko Viljami Lindström's guitar.

You'll find people not hesitating to compare Lindström to Hendrix, due to his experimental nature and gift for solos. This comparison won't make much sense if you listen to This Is Only the Beginning though. The more straightforward rock'n'roll nature of HIM live anno 2000-2001 is nowhere to be found here. The influences that are apparent however, are dark goth bands like The Mission, heavy metal bands like Black Sabbath, and protopunk bands like The Stooges. The last mentioned one are easily spotted on "Stigmata Diaboli" and its heavily (proto)punk influenced riffs, whilst The Mission and Black Sabbath are evident influences throughout the whole release, consequently turning it into a '70s style heavy metal album with a gothic edge, and with the occasional (proto)punk solo and twist. Lindström also does some magic jumps from heavy distorted metal to clean picked '80s goth stuff, with Valo following with softer drums. The 'bridges' on "Serpent Ride", "The Heartless" and "Phantom Gate" come unexpectedly, and catches the listener off guard. (If I even can call them bridges. The song structures is slightly unorthodox.) They seem make the songs' more interesting - and wider pictures. Because they are pictures. Or at least they become pictures after a few listens. Rather big pictures too.

The vocals are - as mentioned earlier - another element that catches the attention. And they do so fairly quickly. Most people are somewhat familiar with Valo and his dark brooding voice. But here, it isn't nearly as monotone as it is today. Here it is much more vivid, passionate and energetic - and believe it or not, much much much darker. To top it off, he sings with a far more upper-class British-like accent here than on recent albums, where it's obvious that he's lived on the west coast of the USA.

Finally, let me say some words about "Wicked Game". I haven't saved it to the end because it's the best track, nor because it's the worst. But because it's just... awkward to find a Chris Isaak song on a heavy metal album. But with that being said - if I hadn't heard the Isaak version prior to hearing the cover present on this album, I'd probably think it was a His Infernal Majesty original. Though it is perhaps the most simplistic track, musically - it still sounds like a His Infernal Majesty original, the second and last track on This Is Only the Beginning not containing a calm part, the first one being "Stigmata Diaboli". It's perhaps even more of a headbanger than "Stigmata Diaboli" though, due to it's almost total lack of dynamics. It just continues in the same tempo all the way to its nice grand rock'n'roll ending. This isn't a bad thing though, as the band manage to pull this off without any difficulties. It's actually a fitting "pause" from the complexity exhibited on the other tracks.

So yeah, that's it folks. Those are my humble opinions. You might disagree with them, but I beg of you - do not write off this without actually listening to it. If you've only heard songs from the band's two most popular albums - Dark Light and Razorblade Romance - you are in for quite the surprise. This is a totally, 100% different band. In my opinion it is also a far superior band to present day HIM, who everybody loves to hate.



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user ratings (31)
Chart.
4
excellent

Comments:Add a Comment 
Oblivioncry
April 4th 2007


602 Comments


i was once a true fan of HIM and it surprises me that i don't have this CD/whatever already. i already know 3 songs but i think they will be slightly different on this one.
anyway
really great review.

Altmer
April 4th 2007


5701 Comments


if this is only the beginning i don't WANT to know what the end is like

sdonnell
April 4th 2007


40 Comments


Man, you made this sound way too good.

Steerpike
April 4th 2007


1861 Comments


This is only the Beginning contains some of the finest pieces of metal ever recorded.

His voice is very clean and dinky

His vocal technique leaves us with our walls painted with gore and intestinals

which has very deviating chores throughout these tapes

a fierce and madden melody.

and helps making this a really extraordinarily listen.

The breakdowns and explosions

The tracks are very variated,

hard-hitting punk metal

And definitely one of the best lyrics ever, by any writer.

I would go as far as calling it one of the best tracks in metal history.

The lyrics are at times very regretful, at times very angry, at times very loving, and at times very sad.

it's very variated.

and their overstep morale and love.

"Serpent Ride" is one of the most beautiful pieces of poetry throughout history.

These are one of the most heavyset recordings in heavy metal history.

His Infernal Majesty proves to be the best heavy metal band on the planet in 1995.


Jesus cross-dressing Christ on a bike...

First, you're going to proofread any future reviews before you post them. I would suggest checking spelling and grammar with a word processor, which should be the obvious choice.

Second, you're going to tone down the fanboyism before you cause us all to throw up.

Third, before you post another HIM review, you need to learn what metal actually is, not what you want to pretend it is.This Message Edited On 04.04.07

tom79
April 4th 2007


3651 Comments


In almost every review you do you rate it a 5 and say its the best album ever/best music you'll ever hear/bes lyrics written ever/ect. And this is just a demo tape? In the last review you said an album no ones heard of is 'better than life itself'. So, I agree with Steerpike. Maybe tone it down, and fix the spelling/grammatical errors.This Message Edited On 04.04.07

Brain Dead
April 4th 2007


1150 Comments


You are way too in love with this band for anyone to take you even somewhat seriously. I judge how well written reviews are by how much they help me discern the quality of the album, so therefore, you get my negative vote.

indietrash
April 4th 2007


85 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

lol. yeah I must admit that I find it hilarious that you guys actually believe that taste in music is objective, and not subjective. but fair enough. you're entitled to your opinions. I don't mind getting advice and critique.





PS

tom79, if you haven't heard about Absolute Kynisk - it's not really my fault. I just have good taste in music ;)

Steerpike
April 4th 2007


1861 Comments


I find it hilarious that you guys actually believe that taste in music is objective, and not subjective.

The whooshing sound you hear right now is my point going over your head.

You failed to make any good point or justify the rating in your entire rambling deluge of grammatical and spelling errors, fanboyism, and general lunacy.

HIM is not, and never was metal. This is not up for debate. Genres are based on empirical commonalities. You can't label a band a certain genre just because you feel like it.

That in mind, how much heroin does it take to believe that HIM writes the best metal songs ever, when they're not even metal?

Stop acting like a drooling fangirl who wants to sleep with Ville and start acting like an intelligent human being.

I don't mind getting advice and critique.

You clearly don't listen to it, either. What's the point in taking criticism if you don't actually take into consideration what's being said? All I hear from you is a lot of bullshit to rationalize why this review doesn't need our criticism.This Message Edited On 04.04.07

Brain Dead
April 4th 2007


1150 Comments


If music taste is entirely subjective, then sites like this have no point.

indietrash
April 4th 2007


85 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

steerpike:

you are as obsessed with hating the band as you claim I am with loving the band. you clearly haven't even heard this. if you had - you would never dream about labelling this as anything else but metal.



I don't do drugs. I've got the X.



I don't want to sleep with Ville. I'm not a homosexual; sorry.





Brain Dead:

some wanker once said that "talking about music is like dancing to architechture". he was partly correct. music is _completely_ subjective. you just have to find a critic with a similiar taste to yourself.This Message Edited On 04.04.07

Steerpike
April 4th 2007


1861 Comments


you are as obsessed with hating the band as you claim I am with loving the band.

.... You are now officially retarded. Your handicapped parking sign is in the mail.

I never said I hated the band. I'm not a fan, but I don't mind them. Couple of good tunes here and there, but if I want music in the vein they're working in, I honestly prefer The Cure.

you would never dream about labelling this as anything else but metal.

Think for a moment about who you're talking to. The only thing metal you've rated is a handful of Black Sabbath albums. I'm so metal that churches burst into flames at my passing. Do not presume to lecture me about what is and isn't metal. I know what I'm talking about, and you don't.

I don't do drugs. I've got the X.

Joke. Noun. Thing said or done intended to cause laughter.

I don't want to sleep with Ville. I'm not a homosexual; sorry.

See above.

you just have to find a critic with a similiar taste to yourself.

God, you're full of shit. You pretty much just admitted that you're not here for the egalitarian exchange of ideas, you just want people to validate you by agreeing with you.This Message Edited On 04.04.07

indietrash
April 4th 2007


85 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

oh yeah. calling me a retard's real mature.

and how do you even begin to compare The Cure to these tapes?



and the only reason I haven't rated much metal - is 'cuz I haven't reviewed much metal. I know my metal. I'm Norwegian. I was practically raised to black metal and anarcho-punk.

I listen to HIM, Engerica, Mare, The Crinn, Slipknot, (early) Incubus, Stone Sour, Rage Against The Machine, The Dogma, Locrian Mist, Jenny Piccolo, Crotchduster, Darkthrone, Carpathian Forest, Unanimated, Cannibal Corpse, The Dillinger Escape Plan and so on. so you don't really need to lecture me either.This Message Edited On 04.04.07

Steerpike
April 4th 2007


1861 Comments


oh yeah. calling me a retard's real mature.

But it's funny.
and how do you even begin to compare The Cure to these tapes?

Because it's Goth flavored pop rock. There's nothing metal about HIM at all.
I listen to HIM, Engerica, Mare, The Crinn, Slipknot, (early) Incubus, Stone Sour, Rage Against The Machine, The Dogma, Locrian Mist, Jenny Piccolo, Crotchduster, Darkthrone, Carpathian Forest, Unanimated, Cannibal Corpse, The Dillinger Escape Plan and so on. so you don't really need to lecture me either.

What do you want, a cookie? This does nothing to convince me that HIM is metal, and given that the band are still under the "Rock" category, it seems everyone else is inclined to agree with me.
However, getting back to the point, a review is supposed to convince the reader whether or not an album is worth their time. If I had never heard of HIM before and this was the only review of their work I'd ever read, I would avoid them like the plague. If this is what their fans sound like, one can only imagine the band themselves...
When people say shit like, "one of the most beautiful pieces of poetry throughout history," a rational person immediately thinks that the person who wrote that is either high, drunk, insane, stupid, or any combination of the above. Especially when you make no decent attempt to back up such a claim.
The review just sucked. It's one of the worst I've ever read, simply because you clearly intention of entertaining dissenting opinions. You say you take constructive criticism, but given your attitude that sounds like a lie to me. All you've done is rationalize every fault pointed out with this review.

711
April 4th 2007


1341 Comments


I'm so metal that churches burst into flames at my passing.

:lol:
Well, Im not really going to try to give you a lot of feedback for fear of... well... what you are giving Steerpike. This entire argument with him started with him giving you a little critisism, and nothing more. I know it isnt my place to step myself into an argument like this, but really, give it a rest.

trustxdialect
April 4th 2007


1502 Comments


This entire argument with him started with him giving you a little critisism, and nothing more.


Little. :lol:

Steerpike may be getting eccentric, but it's for good reason. He brings up great points like:
You failed to make any good point or justify the rating in your entire rambling deluge of grammatical and spelling errors, fanboyism, and general lunacy.

HIM is not, and never was metal. This is not up for debate. Genres are based on empirical commonalities. You can't label a band a certain genre just because you feel like it.

You pretty much just admitted that you're not here for the egalitarian exchange of ideas, you just want people to validate you by agreeing with you.

When people say shit like, "one of the most beautiful pieces of poetry throughout history," a rational person immediately thinks that the person who wrote that is either high, drunk, insane, stupid, or any combination of the above. Especially when you make no decent attempt to back up such a claim.

You say you take constructive criticism, but given your attitude that sounds like a lie to me. All you've done is rationalize every fault pointed out with this review.

And my personal favorite
I'm so metal that churches burst into flames at my passing.


You are a little too quick to give things classic ratings, and you barely back it up with anything but fanboy like comments. Nothing pertaining to the actual musicianship besides that you think it's fantastic. Why do you think that because we obviously don't know.

MrKite
April 4th 2007


5020 Comments


chan rarely fails to amuse.

trustxdialect
April 4th 2007


1502 Comments


:confused: amused? he's right wtf are you talking about?

Steerpike
April 4th 2007


1861 Comments


Steerpike may be getting eccentric

It's okay, you can say it. I'm a dickhead.

trustxdialect
April 4th 2007


1502 Comments


Hardly. You make pretty good points. Now, if it were aimed at me, I'd call you a dickhead, but from an unbiased third party, you are pretty thorough when it's called for.

711
April 4th 2007


1341 Comments


Yeah, you give people what they ask for and then give them more when they wont give up, so there is nothing wrong with that :thumb:



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