HIM / VENUS DOOM

It’s Thursday and that gives us that weekly option to #Throwback and take a look at an album from the past, tear it apart and delve back into it, reviewing it, years after its release, taking the opportunity to do what we didn’t at the time. This weeks retrospective release is a personal favourite and despite being a bit HIM heavy at Mojo20.com recently, no doubt due to their imminent retirement and taking a little nostalgia trip as the end grows near, we’re taking an in depth look into their sixth studio album and one that stands out massively in their already fantastic back catalogue.

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‘Venus Doom’ was released on the 18th of September 2007 and I actually remember it like it was yesterday. Growing up a massive fan, if not definitely a super fan, of the Scandinavian alt rock juggernaut, the release of new material was up there with Christmas and birthdays in its sentimental importance, however it only came around every couple/few years so perhaps even more exciting. When Venus Doom dropped, it was clear from the first few seconds of the album that this was a darker, more brooding, more sinister sounding record and had heavier sounds than they’d delivered in years, maybe ever. It was well documented before its release that the ideas and sentiments behind the album were very personal and frontman Ville Valo’s recent break up, alcoholism and controversies had built the sound and approach that would eventually make up the fabric of the record. There was a feeling of sadness once the music was revealed as you knew the pain and anguish behind the lyrics and why they warranted such a heavy overtone, but there was no denying, it was some of their best work to date. Previous album ‘Dark Light’ had a synthier, more catchy tone and it appeared to be an attempt at really breaking the US market. It was a great album but the overtly gothic nature and the polished, brand heavy presentation especially on music videos, made their attempts too obvious and despite being a life long fan still having enthusiasm for it, I’m not so sure a casual fan or oblivious music fan would have been so drawn as they would have been to either their second or fourth albums. However ‘Venus Doom’ arrived and with gut wrenching guitar solos, low, grizzled vocals and jackhammer style drums, immersed in the beautifully romantic and sensitive nature of HIM’s music, and it showed us a whole new evolution of the band, a different animal to what we’d ever seen before.

The opening few seconds of the title track feature the sound of a match striking as Ville Valo sparks a cigarette, of which we all knew was a regular occurrence for the frontman, and even a bit of a gimmick, if not a very unhealthy one. It was an endearing beginning and as ‘Venus Doom’ hammered through one hell of a catchy chorus, a shredding guitar solo from Lily Lazer, haunting chimes of a child’s music box or mobile and a fast paced rampage that wasn’t befitting of any introduction, it stood as an all out war and notified us all that HIM were back and harder than ever, even if personal pain was the vehicle in which they arrived.

Their sixth album joined the ranks of previous albums in the fact, it stood as one masterfully created record, full of incredible tracks. Not one bad track from start to finish, and the repeat button was worn out in no time at all. Every single track on the album is a killer and though that’d been seen with almost all their previous albums, it seemed unfathomable that it had been done again. ‘Love In Cold Blood’ was an obvious favourite, whilst ‘Passion’s Killing Floor’ became a standard on their live sets, despite not being released as a single. ‘The Kiss Of Dawn’ was released as the lead single and was followed up with the unbelievably catchy ‘Bleed Well’ which may well have been the stand out track from the whole thing. Although, not to be overlooked, the ten minute odyssey ‘Sleepwalking Past Hope’ could be pointed out as one of the bands ultimate achievements, in the same vein as ‘Tears On Tape’ or the classic ‘When Love & Death Embrace’ as it’s a heavily layered, memorable journey of sentiment, despair and love. As I said, each track has its victories and moments that bring this album up to the level of brilliance HIM so regularly produce. The best part of the story is that by the time the album really began to be pushed, promoted and performed, Valo had managed to draw himself out of the dark patch he’d been inspired by to write the album and actually went on to tour the album with a fresh face and a sober mind. A positive and inspiring end to the ‘Venus Doom’ story. 

Words by Stuart Green (@mojo20_music)

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