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HIM: Dark Light

Finland's H.I.M. certainly seem to be making a dent in the American music world and this is no surprise when one considers the overall appeal and quality of some of their songs. Thanks to the efforts of MTV's Bam Marguera, the bands logo or "Heartagram" is no longer a mysterious image as he showcases it regularly on his program "Viva LaBam". Though the band has been around for some ten years it was only recently that the American listener was able to purchase their music domestically and now with the release of Dark Light this growing audience got to experience a brand new album on its actual release date. The last two albums that surfaced early this year in Love Metal and Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights were already a couple of years old yet despite this fact the concert appearances of the group sold out very quickly. As I listened to Dark Light I found it continuing along in the same fashion as Love Metal with a strong influence of Razorblade Romance (two records which I enjoy very much). Lead singer Ville Vallo has found a formula that works and while labeled "Love" or Gothic Metal" the whole of H.I.M music leans more towards that which was influenced by Eighties New Wave such as Billy Idol, Depeche Mode or The Cure. The Gothic label was most likely due to their names acronym of "His Infernal Majesty" as it held a sense of darkness to it as do most things Goth. The band seldom uses the long version and very simply goes by H.I.M. these days. This fact combined with the subject matter of love and death that continually play in the same yard during their music makes you conclude that this might have been the root cause of the label. However the more you listen to the band the more you will find that is it pure and simple good Melodic Hard Rock.

There are a number of standout tracks on the release which kicks off with "Vampire Heart". The track makes good use of the John Carpenter movie riff from "Halloween". The main single from the release is "Rip Out The Wings Of A Butterfly" which on many radio and internet stations is listed as "Wings Of A Butterfly". I guess they are trying to make it sound nicer than it actually is. These two tracks are definitely my favorites and that surprised me to find this so quickly into the record. "Behind The Crimson Door" and "Under The Rose" have a very similar feel and style to them where Ville sings in a deeper more resonant tone than usual. The most mellow number is the title track of "Dark Light" and it really did not do much for me as I was more impressed with the number that preceded it ("Killing Loneliness"). The musicianship is still tight and holds to form with Mige, Gas, Burton and Linde all doing a great job. Overall this album will appeal to existing H.I.M. fans but more importantly it proves to be a solid enough record that will allow for new fans to jump on board with very little difficulty. Theses listeners can play this CD and not feel as though they have missed a lot and from there they can explore a little further into the back catalog. My advice is to buy this and one of the albums referenced above or the hits compilation of Love Said No. It's taken 10 years for this band to be a "break through" artist in the USA. Let's give them a warm reception and prove that Rock is still important to us as an audience.

Track Listing

  1. Vampire Heart
  2. Rip Out The Wings Of A Butterfly
  3. Under The Rose
  4. Killing Loneliness
  5. Dark Light
  6. Behind The Crimson Door
  7. The Face Of God
  8. Drunk On Shadows
  9. Play Dead
  10. In The Nightside Of Eden

Added: November 21st 2005
Reviewer: Ken Pierce
Related Link: H.I.M. Website
Hits: 2850
Language: english

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HIM: Dark Light
Posted by Pete Pardo, SoT Staff Writer on 2005-11-21 17:29:51
My Score:

Dark Light was my first introduction to Finland's H.I.M., and I was surprised at just how different they sound compared to fellow Finnish bands like Nightwish or Stratovarius. While the band is labled as a gothic rock band, to these ears H.I.M. play catchy and energetic hard rock, littered with plenty of elements of pop, new wave, metal, and progressive rock. It's a pretty unique sound, and perhaps to the new listener I would say think of a combination of Depeche Mode, The Cure, Bon Jovi, and Magnum, yet they sound more hip than any of those bands. Big guitar hooks, sweeping keyboards, tight rhythms, and the dark lyrical imagery and strong vocals of Ville Valo make up the bands sound, and it's a big one.

There are potential hits aplenty on Dark Light, from the unforgettable hooks of "Rip Out the Wings of a Butterfly" and "Vampire Heart", to the melodic verse of "Under the Rose", all the way to the sing along hard rock anthem "The Face of God", there's plenty to like here. Progressive rock and gothic fans will eat up the dark sounds of "Drunk on Shadows" , complete with ominous Mellotron, meaty guitar riffs, and Valo's emotional vocals. When this album's not being upbeat and anthemic, it's moody as hell, like on the somber "Play Dead" or the dark "In the Nightside of Eden".

Hard rock fans who like a lot of melody and dashes of prog & gothic elements should find Dark Light a mighty enjoyable listen. This album should help H.I.M. become one of the breakout bands here in the US in 2006.

2004 Sea Of Tranquility
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