At the end of April 2013, a certain Finnish rock band, returned after three years to introduce the world to their latest collection of original songs in the form of their latest LP, ‘Tears on Tape’. As a superfan of HIM, since the age of about 12, of course it was going to be my duty to add this album to my collection, and having the pleasure of reviewing it for the site. How much fun could it be to review your favourite bands newest album? Loads of fun… as long as it’s a great album!
Of course, with a back catalogue that spans the past 16 years, comparisons are inevitable. One big difference immediately is the inclusion of an instrumental intro track in ‘Unleash the Red’. A synth heavy, whimsical awakening to the album, which sets the tone for the deeply sentimental journey Ville Valo and his band are about to take you on. Following the introduction, the album heads straight into the first single release from the record, ‘All Lips Go Blue’, which tears straight in with heavy guitar riffs reminiscent of bands like Black Sabbath and Cathedral, and Valo begins the first of his romantic croons, that culminates in a catchy and up tempo chorus. It isn’t the huge, dominating force that a lot of their single releases have been, and the subject matter appears to be a bit obscure. Almost like HIM have pulled so many love based metaphors out of the bag for the past 16 years that they are running out. But be that as it may, in typical HIM new album fashion, everything’s a grower.
The more you
listen, the more you find, and when you’ve found it, you’ll enjoy it. For example, the acoustic solo bridge in ‘All Lips Go Blue’, where Valo takes over with a brief Neil Young inspired break, is a welcome and refreshing interlude. This happens a few more times throughout the album and adds a lot to songs like the first single and also ‘Love without Tears’.
An album highlight has to be ‘Into the Night’. With every song being relentlessly sentimental, by the time you’ve come to this point the driving guitar riff, and chant inspiring drum beat at the beginning of track 6 certainly wakes you up from loves young dream. Then by the time the verse has kicked in, we find it being one of the more sentimental songs on the album! But, this balance is perfect, and I did wonder why ‘Into the Night’ wasn’t made the first single from the album. Before long we reach a 1 minute and 34 second interlude called ‘Trapped in Autumn’ that acts as a sound scape for preparing you to enter the scene that the second half of the album is set in. It actually took me back, and reminded me of previous album ‘Venus Doom’ from 2007, and specifically the song from that album ‘Sleepwalking Past Dawn’. As a big fan, this was obvious to me and had me waiting to see what was to be delivered next. Was it a sign that the second half of the album was the heavy, gritty, pseudo satanic side of the album?
No. Not really.
Things continue on in a similar fashion, until after two more songs we hit another interlude called ‘Lucifers Chorale’, which is just a bit of distortion for just over a minute. At this point I’m getting slightly confused. Why so many intros and interludes? However, this is followed up by a gem, in the much darker, deeper, and bleaker ‘W.L.S.T.D’. This actually became one of my favourites during the first listen to the album as it was the only of its kind and had that cynical edge to romanticism similar to ‘Funeral of Hearts’ from the 2003 album ‘Love Metal’.
So of course , I’m eagerly awaiting the final track on the album, since track 12 was so good, surely they’ll round things off with another absolute block rocker, a club banger, an instant classic, a timeless piece of music hist… WHAT THE FUCK?! An instrumental outro?! Another piece of filler?!
So in summary; yes, there’s a lot of filler, that I initially found confusing, but in two weeks will probably state as being an artistic side to the soft rock veterans ever-expanding catalogue of music. I found the album a bit sentimental and wimpy, with no dance inspiring, catchy riffs like they’ve always provided through past songs like ‘Right Here In My Arms’, ‘Buried Alive By Love’ and ‘Bleed Well’. But ask me again in two weeks and I’ll tell you it’s that the band have matured their sound, and it’s a dignified step in the right direction. As I write this, it’s deflating and very disappointing for such a huge fan to be reviewing this album as nothing more than indifferent. But as I say, their albums are always growers. Wether it grows from like to love, hate to like or disappointed to enlightened, we’ll see how it all pans out.
At the same time what the fuck do I know? And if I ever meet Ville Valo…I will deny all knowledge of ever writing this. Because I love him.
‘Tears on Tape ’ is available now on iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/tears-on-tape-deluxe-version/id633493154
Words by Stuart Green (@mojo20_music)