By ALYSSA HOLCOMB
I’ll admit, I had huge reservations about the new HIM album. Having been a fan for a long time, I’ve felt a certain pang of disappointment with the majority of their latest releases. However, Tears On Tape, the band’s eighth studio album, sounds more like HIM than ever – even with a bit of a more upbeat flair.
That’s not to say the album is peppy – this is HIM we are talking about – they are peppy in a completely different way. Ville Valo’s vocals on tracks like “All Lips Go Blue” and “I Will Be The End Of You” stretch more into his tenor rather than his deeper rumble. It’s a nice compliment to the hard but melodic instrumentals, particularly with guitarist Mikko “Linde” Lindstrom’s simple but effective licks. Mikko “Mige” Paananen is also modest with the bass, as is Mika “Gas Lipstick” Karppinen on the drums, but both emphasize that driving background that makes the band’s songs harder than the usual tuneful rock song. Add Janne “Burton” Puurtinen’s sweetly punctuating keyboards and you have something beyond the typical hard rock band – they are much more melodious than that.
The tracks transition nicely from softer to harsher. For example, the relatively mellow “Tears on Tape” segues into a darker intro on “Into the Night.” This is not out of the norm for the band – if anything, this album as a whole is very similar to their other records. But what’s different about this usually standard transition (and album) for the band is the little things – the hand claps at the beginning of “Night” and an overall lighter quality to the songs. It’s interesting to hear what is (at least to me) a lighter side to this dark metal group. It’s that combination of dark rock and lighter melody that has made HIM a great band from the get go.
Songs like “Drawn and Quartered” feature a lot more harmony, which accentuates the track’s overall tone. This is one of the more “upbeat” (for all intents and purposes) songs on the record – and it fits. What also fits are the interspersed instrumental tracks like “Lucifer’s Chorale” and the album closer “Kiss The Void,” the latter of which became one of my instant favorites with its faded drums laden with multiple faint harmonies.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, it’s this combination of two seemingly separate sounds that makes the album work so well – and makes it sound so very “HIM.”
Tears on Tape is now available on iTunes. For more information on HIM and their upcoming US tour, check out their website www.heartagram.com.