Label: Razor & Tie/Universal
Release Date: April 30, 2013
I was going over my “list” recently….you know that “list” most of us keep of the special celebrity “sleepovers” we’d have if given the chance. Yeah, you know what I am talking about. Well, periodically I review mine to see if the top three choices are still relevant to me. I admit it Ville Valo is #2, right between Noel Fielding and Jack White at #3. Which reminded me I also needed to review the new H.I.M. CD entitled Tears on Tape.
I have been a long time periodic fan of this band’s music. Starting when we first heard of them back in 1997 and their rendition of “Wicked Games” (now, I love this song no matter who performs it, original Chris Isaak, or anyone else for that matter.) I was less bowled over with their take on Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper”, but quickly forgave them after I got a look at Ville.
By the time we were introduced to them here in the States they had already been a band for about six years. Hailing from Helsinki, Finland and bringing with them, their brand of a romantic, Gothic, version of what I like to refer to as “Horny Metal”. Yes, once in a while they put out some very popular non-threatening mainstream tunes. And yes, there are some bands that do this just as well. For example, The Rasmus, who I listen to while (you guessed it) looking at pictures of Ville Valo. (Which by the way I do for so many bands.) Really, any excuse to gaze at Valo.
Let’s us not discount how rich and satisfying this band really is. So often we tend to overlook the supporting members of a band and give most of the attention to the front man. HIM is a perfect example of some very talented musicians in their own right, currently consisting of: Mikko “Linde” Lindstrom, Mikko “Mige”Paananen, Janne “Emerson Burton” Puurtinen and drummer Mika “Gas Lipstick” Karppinen.
Throughout the years they have given us some fine music, such as “In Joy and Sorrow” off 2004’s Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights. Add this new offering of “Tears on Tape”, the album’s title track. It is lovely, and will most likely induce severe tear production of your own if you have recently experienced a painful breakup. Its intro alone shows classically influenced chord progression and melody. Much like a proud peacock would show its plumage. Oh and here is a side note, the video for this song in no way does it any justice. But I am not here to express my views on the fine points of anything cinematic in nature.
Tracks like “Into the Night” and “Hearts at War” are equally excellent, but the guitars and drums do tend to lean more towards a hard-driving rock coupled with a little more standard “pop” influence. However, I feel I must add that “Hearts of War” would be a piece of music that would fit very comfortably in any decade. It has a timeless and likable quality to it.
Once I got over the initial misgiving of the titled “W.L.S.T.D.” after I figured out it stood for “When Love Starts to Die.” And not as I had initially thought: “Wasn’t Lucky (got) Sexually Transmitted Disease” (which by the way “IS” the precise moment when Love starts to Die.). This aside, it is a pretty good piece of music.
It will come as no surprise that the album was once again produced and engineered by the eminently talented Hiili Hiilesmaa (Lordi, Apocalyptica, Amorphis), as he has in whole or in part since their 1997 debut.
I do truly respect this band and the elegant execution of their musical abilities. And you can clearly tell what they were going for here. As there is a very faint hint of a sort of 1950’s 1960’s era sound, kind of a fog or mist of doo-wop and those tunes of a bygone time. Which I am sorry to say I am not a big fan of, and it’s what keeps me at bay. A kind of “hemlock” for my heart as it were, that keeps me from totally loving it.
Now this all takes me back to my original task at hand and reviewing my “list” of which I decided Ville Valo remains at #2. But, as far as the CD is concerned, although this one has its worthy moments, overall I am giving it 7 out of 10. I wouldn’t kick it out of bed, but no way am I making it breakfast.