The Finnish rock band known as HIM has returned with its seventh studio album, "Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice". The five musicians from Helsinki, Finland have started off the new decade with another sonic surprise of a rock album. This album is filled with heavy, goth-tinged, guitar-driven rock tunes that beckon the music-world to relish, savor and urge them to attribute this work to their precious rock and roll compilations. As an observer and listener of HIM's previous albums, the band's February 9, 2010 release is by far the most aggressive in terms of its lyrical positivity and musical dynamics. Unlike the past more melancholic albums; it portrays love in a more optimistic light, which literally "screams" out for hope, redemption, and (as always) love. As singer Ville Valo has previously stated in an interview; it's about "embracing the light at the end of the tunnel" and he describes the quality of the songs as, "heavy, but a lighter shade of black." (video- "Ville Valo Talks About Screamworks", HIM's Youtube channel ).
Eastern North Carolina may not be particularly familiar with the "love metal" band, but rest assured, there are plenty of "metal-head" youths who've either heard their name or have seen their symbol (the Heartagram) in various locations. For a quick bit of background, the young group of musicians began performing in 1991, but didn't receive the bulk of its American recognition until the early 2000's. Both the Heartagram symbol and the term "Love Metal" was adorned to the band's musical style by singer Valo on his 20th birthday in 1996. In 2005, HIM became the first Finnish band to receive gold status in the U.S. with the album Dark Light.
Now, in the turn of a new decade, the Finns have arrived with their most aggressive, melodious collection of songs to date. The first track of their new album Screamworks is In Venere Veritas, it lures the audience with an in-your-face message brought by Valo as he sings the opening lyrics, "Let's fall apart together now". This then blasts us into a horizon brimming of flange guitars, pulsing drums, and enchanting keyboard hooks; setting up the mood with a powerhouse rock anathematic approach. For those unfamiliar with the Latin language, the title (In Venere Veritas) translates into English as, "In love there is truth".
Cooling off the senses from the powerful opening track we're led into "Scared to Death". The refreshing, synthesizer-oriented melody laced with heavy guitar power chords, attracts both hard-rockers and romantics alike. A serenade dedicated to distressed young lovers falling in love, closed with "And you're sweet like poison". The mood twists with the next track "Heartkiller"; a driving, pulsing rhythm of a song with 80's inspired keyboard hooks and guitar solos. As the first single of the new album, it's reminiscent of a fusion between a techno club and a metal show; conjuring both "head-bangers" and "booty-shakers". Unfortunately, rock radio stations in America haven't been mesmerized into playing "Heartkiller" that often. This is shocking, because it's something I would have expected to sky-rocket in this "neck of the woods".
HIM's entire, appropriately named, collective works (Screamworks), has an edgy technique of putting Poe-influenced poetry into memorable melodies. "Dying Song" starts off as something sentimental as well as sweetly perceptive of a lover: "I've seen you breathe life into the weakest of hearts, and heard you scream out loud the sweetest poem", and then becomes something of deeper substance with darker undertones in the second verse and chorus:
"Buried alive under ice while exchanging sighs, with tomorrow quivering in the loneliest light... Shedding skin to a
dying song, we hum along to the evening sun 'til we are no more, little deaths to a dying song sound a lot like life
and love, life and love, with you".
With that bearing as an example of a heavy metal sonnet; keep in mind that it's only the beginning... This is far from the half-way mark of Screamworks. "Disarm Me (with Your Loneliness)" could be dubbed as 'the one for the ladies'. The crooning, ballad-like rock song has hopeless romantic verses; which tells the story of a man continuously charmed by a lady and who wants to do anything to keep their relationship alive: "So I'll break all the rules in this endless game once called Love, for you".
"Love the Hardest Way" leads the assemblage back into a pulsating tempo of hard-edge guitars and a funky bass-n-drum feel, accompanied with a backwards hand clap cadence to accentuate the youthful energy of the music at hand. "Katherine Wheel", in its own right, gives off that similar energy, only this time the massive, throbbing rhythm of the overall instrumental combination is reminiscent of the motion of a spinning wheel. A song dedicated to 'Katherine' who has bemused the lyricist, notice the chorus: "Lo and Behold baby, these are the things you make me do, Katherine Wheel I'm burning for you".
Known for their 80s-inspired musical hooks, HIM displays it even further with keyboard-oriented rockers such as "In the Arms of Rain" and "Ode to Solitude". The first goes from sounding like the band playing against a waterfall of sound with rain-inspired synthesizers, to flowing into the latter track ("Ode to Solitude"). This sonic boom of a SG riff-enthused tune; rips through the speakers with a colossal wall of drum-n-bass, atmospheric keyboards, heated guitar shredding, and emotional poetry of torment and heartbreak: "Here's to the pain, the light of the oncoming train, ode to solitude in chains...here's to the pain as always heaven in flames, now bleeding ode to solitude in chains...".
HIM is also known for making two songs flow into the other, which they continue to do on their latest album. A prime example is how they lead from a tortured song into a more positive song..."Ode to Solitude" then hemorrhage into the optimism that is "Shatter Me with Hope". This song once more slashes through the sound waves and theoretically rips apart your soul with lyrics that are poetic, literal, and ironically romantic in a darker sense. "Run come shatter me now with hope, crawl come breathe me in, bleed out all sorrows, scream me a dream untouched my shadows, baby shatter me now with hope, swear on your heart's grave I'm wrong, and love like your life's depending on it, because it is".
"Acoustic Funeral" serves as the climactic point in the compilation. It's filled with mystical romanticism and droning, soulful guitars that entice the listener into a sea of melancholic melody and rock ballad-esque emotion. "The acoustic funeral for love in limbo, we're dancing with tags on our toes, I save my last breath for your window to write you this song, for the acoustic funeral".
The subsequent "Like St. Valentine" follows behind and builds upon the climax with an edge that can simply be described as dramatically intense, high-strung rock-n-roll. Screamworks comes to its solemn, heartfelt end with a short techno-influenced track called "The Foreboding Sense of Impending Happiness"; a sonnet infused with soothing vocals set to lightly pulsing synthesizers. This completely turns the entire album around; thus creating a breath of fresh air once again in order to cool down the senses from a disc full of love metal. This album is an assortment of individual rhythms and emotions.
The Screamworks album arises into a category that's its own; primarily due to its extreme diversity from "typical" rock-n-roll albums. The arrangement of sheer complex musicianship and intense lyrical quality packs so much information into a single collection of music. So many progressive reflections are portrayed for the brain and the ears to visualize and experience. From my observation, this album provides a musical ensemble that's alluring to rock and metal supporters, as well as fans of idealistic literature. In conclusion of this review, I recommend "Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice" to anyone who revels in creativity, individuality, youthful romance, and likes to think outside the norms of society.
Original Release Date: February 9, 2010
1. In Venere Veritas
2. Scared to Death
4. Dying Song
5. Disarm Me (With Your Loneliness)
6. Love, the Hardest Way
7. Katherine Wheel
8. In the Arms of Rain
9. Ode to Solitude
10. Shatter Me with Hope
11. Acoustic Funeral (for Love in Limbo)
12. Like St. Valentine
13. The Foreboding Sense of Impending Happiness
This post appears courtesy of our sister site, Beaufort County NOW, with their expressed permission.