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HIM: Venus Doom

The latest from Finland's purveyors of gothic doom HIM sees Ville Valo & Co. once again trying to take over the US, a task they came pretty darn close to on their last release Dark Light. Surprisingly, Venus Doom is less commercially appealing than Dark Light, as the band has gone for a heavier sound, with a more prevalent guitar crunch, somewhere along the lines of what you would normally hear from a band like Katatonia. Much of the lighthearted, romantic goth of the early days seems to have been traded for a newfound doom metal appreciation, giving this new one a real serious & dramatic flow.

The title track is a catchy yet heavy slice of hard rock, with thick, beefy guitar riffs and ominous vocals from Valo leading the charge. "Love in Cold Blood" is one of the CD's few radio ready songs, with a hook laden chorus and lots of tasty guitar riffs & leads. Bubbling synths and crunchy power chords permeate the gothic & progressive thumper "Passion's Killing Floor", a real dark piece that almost screams for a more aggressive vocal attack from Vilo, who instead opts for his usual crooning. Balls-out metal is all the rage on the crankin' "Kiss of Dawn", easily one of the heaviest numbers this band is ever recorded, with some excellent riffs and a deliciously mysterious vocal performance from Ville. The album's centerpiece is the 10 minute "Sleepwalking Past Hope", part monstrous doom, part orchestral gothic rock, this one has the most powerful & heaviest riffs on the album, plus some truly haunting keyboard layers, but also manages to have some seriously catchy melodies as well.

Another radio friendly piece is "Dead Lover's Lane", complete with symphonic keys and a catchy chorus, and "Bleed Well" wants to be a raging rocker, but is another one of those songs that probably could have been a tad more successful had Vilo tried to allow a little more venom creep into his vocals. The album closer "Cyanide Sun" is a depressive, doom laden dirge, complete with slow, bone-crunching guitar riffs, haunting piano, and heart tugging vocals.

Whether Venus Doom becomes the huge hit here in America that HIM is hoping for remains to be seen. Although it's indeed heavier and perhaps more cohesive than Dark Light, there's certainly nothing as commercially acceptable here as "Rip Out the Wings of a Butterfly", "Under the Rose", and "Killing Loneliness" from that album. Let's see what happens.

Track Listing
1. Venus Doom
2. Love in Cold Blood
3. Passion's Killing Floor
4. Kiss of Dawn
5. Sleepwalking Past Hope
6. Dead Lovers' Lane
7. Song or Suicide
8. Bleed Well
9. Cyanide Sun

Added: December 4th 2007
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: HIM Website
Hits: 3688
Language: english

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» SoT Staff Roundtable Reviews:

HIM: Venus Doom
Posted by Ken Pierce, SoT Staff Writer on 2007-12-03 06:29:32
My Score:

For the Hard Rock and Metal fans who have long felt that the music of HIM was a little too light for their tastes then I present to them the bands newest and darkest release to date the crushing and melancholic Venus Doom. Crushing because there is just a lot more "oomph" to the guitar sound than we have found coming from HIM in the recent past and melancholic based on the subject matter that Vallo is singing about, and how he delivers it. Let's face it he's never come across as the happiest guy in the world with tunes like "Join Me In Death" or "Fortress Of Tears" so why change the working formula now. Musically this release is a far cry from the commercially viable fare that we found on their US debut "Dark Light" and as a result the overall catchiness of the tunes will take a little more work on the listener's part. There's no "Vampire Heart" or "(Rip Out The) Wings Of A Butterfly" on this one that you can easily sing along to but when you hear tracks like the opening title "Venus Doom" and "Passions Killing Floor", you will find that the brooding grooves they lay down are almost hypnotic. Across the release we have Ville singing in the voice we all know and love but there are also a few vocal tricks that he pulls out of his hat that made me think the band at some point listened to a little Type-O-Negative. When he uses the deep solemn tone he reminded me very much of Peter Steele lead singer from that Brooklyn based band. The album is definitely their heaviest to date and with the intro that is used for "The Kiss Of Dawn", you are most likely to agree with me on this. They band then take a wide angle turn by delivering an epic number in "Sleepwalking Past Hope" and this one runs over ten minutes in length. In the past HIM has done some long numbers but never one that went this long or explored as many different heavy vibes throughout its course as this one does. There might be a little confusion on the release based on the consistent amount of shifting gears that they do as the songs progress. For instance they will start out heavy, and then slow down to a subtle whisper, and then get heavy as hell once again. Some of the riffs come right out of the book of Black Sabbath and it was great to see HIM delving more into the Doom Metal side for they do it quite well. If this shows anything to the casual fan it's that the guys are also capable musicians and can formulate a complex tune as well as any other band that does this sort of thing more often. I found that it also made me refer to a couple of the songs a couple of more times to make sure that I had absorbed them well enough. The guys definitely played their hearts out on this one so Mikko, Gas, Mikko and Burton are to be commended on the final product.

When we get down to "Dead Lover's Lane" I felt that we had something very reminiscent of the tunes that were on Razorblade Romance, which was my own introduction to the band. Between this track and "Bleed Well" I felt we were finding the most easily accessible numbers for those fans who might fear this now showing heavier side that the band has chosen to let loose. Overall this was a very interesting listen but it needed a couple of runs through in the changer for me to be totally taken with it. That's never a bad thing as you don't often want to be too quick to judge a release after you hear it once. What I liked most about it was that it showed how HIM follows no path but their own and refuses to deliver the same thing with every new album. As a release this one stands strong on its own and if you wanted to see another side of the group then you would do well to investigate deeper into it. Lyrics are provided in the booklet and are in the font of Ville's own hand-writing and the cover sports a very Leroy Neiman/Salvador Dali type of portrait of the singer.

» Reader Comments:

HIM: Venus Doom
Posted by Dianne Murray on 2008-03-11 01:45:36
My Score:

The cover of Venus Doom is actually a reproduction of a painting by American artist David Harouni , which Valo purchased in Harouni's gallery in New Orleans, prior to the songs and lyrics for Venus Doom being written. It is a portrait of a black lady, not of the band's singer and frontman. Valo has said he named the album after his perception of the woman in the photograph. He talks about it in this video.

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