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RAZORBLADE ROMANCE

' Razorblade Romance '

( BMG )

The first light of the dawn absently cuts the darkness through the cracks of half-closed shutters . The room is full of smoke and of the bitter smell of a rubbishy red wine,  the faint tinkle of a few broken bottles is barely noticeable . A stereo is playing at the same time a Hanoi Rocks vinyl , a Depeche Mode cassette and a  Type O Negative CD:  the sonic maelstrom seems to swallow everything.  On the floor , a few drops of blood are mixed with some chalk lines,  traced by an unsteady hand : the pentagram inscribed in a circle still smells of sulfur. Ville Hermanni Valo is curled up in a corner, as if afraid to disturb. Two tears, bitter as gall, furrow gently the androgynous perfection of his features , a ruthless, sarcastic smile is painted on his lipstick smeared lips . With one hand he’s  holding the crumpled picture of a creature too good to be true . With the other he squeezes the cold grip of a gun loaded with only one shot . After some time, he’ll put both of them in the drawer of memories and will begin to pluck the strings of a battered acoustic guitar. I want to deceive myself above all , but I think maybe this is the small universe tenderly embracing the birth of the wonderful songs of HIM , the sentimental microcosm in which it’s accomplished the genesis of a music that admits only one  term for comparison : perfection. ' Razorblade Romance ' is not the bloody battlefield where Eros and Thanatos are destined to clash , but is the immaculate alcove in which these two entities will love each other  until they bleed to death . The alchemical ingredients  creating the magic are the same as in the incredible debut ' Greatest Lovesongs Vol 666 ' , what has changed is their dosage . While continuing to be the basis on which the group works , the traditional gothic metal component has indeed weakened , and vacant space has crept into the subtle energy of a primitive scan- rock , which increases the desolate melancholy of some of the most graceful pop melodies  of the last decade. The key names can be found a few lines back, but don’t trust too much the subjective impressions. Each one of you ( I'm sure ) will learn to fall in love with this band following the inimitable parameters of your heart, and in the end you’ll be deceived  into believing that this album is a treasure that only you could find . As for me , I already stole too much time with this review, instead of listening for the millionth time to the unmatchable art of HIM . Excuse me , I have a "play" button to press.

(words by Emanuele Biani, english translation by Alessia Poldi)

DARK LIGHT

DARK LIGHT
(SIRE / WARNER)
When an artist's career is based in its foundations on the oxymoron's figure of speech, his works are inevitably exposed to the banal but tangible danger of falling into contradiction. Maybe it was fate, but also the Dark Light that intermittently lights up this record represents the contrast between the genetic peculiarities of HIM, like always protagonists in the fertile DNA of the Finnish scene, and the will not so veiled to please the American audience, reluctant to assimilate any form of expression beyond the immediate usability. The controversial theatre of 'Dark Light' opens the curtain on the notes of a song among the most passionate and disarming that the whimsical fantasy of Ville Valo has never given to birth, and then closes itself with the same naturalness on inharmonious and limping structures of a mess hard to lend to same author. In fact, the embarrassing gap between the almost unbearable pathos of 'Vampire Heart' and the rambling uncertainty of 'In The Nightside Of Eden' is a true reflection of an album in which lights and shadows are alternated not so much in terms of atmosphere, but rather in terms of quality. The fifth record of HIM, in addition to inaugurate the partnership with the giant Sire / Warner, pays homage to its customers of a roller coaster ride of emotions, virtually eliminating the scale of grays between white of the adrenaline and the black of the boredom. In this sense, it's good the choice of excellent singles as 'Rip Out The Wings Of The Butterfly' and 'Killing Loneliness': maybe they cannot hide the bulky presence of some fillers ('Drunk On Shadows' and the title track), but are joined by many suggestive and dynamic episodes, branded by the characteristic symbol of HIM ('Behind The Crimson Door' and 'Face of God'). It remains a mystery why the limited edition of the album, only available on the official website, includes two bonus tracks ('The Cage' and especially 'Venus In Our Blood') objectively superior to less successful songs in the standard version, but overall you have the impression that the genesis of 'Dark Light' has taken place with external interference in the artistic freedom of the band. And this, after all, is perhaps the only fault we can charge to it.

Words by Emanuele Biani, english translation by Alessandra Gargiulo

AND LOVE SAID NO – GREATEST HITS

‘AND LOVE SAID NO – THE GREATEST HITS (1997-2004)’
(BMG)
In the beginning it was Neil Diamond. Then came the turn of Gianni Morandi. Finally HIM sewed the proverbial patch. This is the history of 'Solitary Man', a classic evergreen of the American tradition, already reviled (with the title 'Se perdo anche te', "If I loose you too") by the ape-movements of the boyfriend of Italy, and repeated here with determination and good taste by the band of Ville Valo. The seductive title track complete the small batch of new songs, revealing a charming exercise in style in a repertoire already full of ballads. The rest of the collection unfolds along a selection, actually a bit tank, of the singles taken from the last three albums of the band, only to neglect the unique pathos of the debut ' Greatest Lovesongs Vol 666 '. In fact, the excellent cover of ' Wicked Game ' (Chris Isaak) and the sulfur 'Your Sweet 666 ', are presented in the same variant they have in the majors masterpiece 'Razorblade Romance', leaving only the wonderful ' When Love And Death Embrace ' to represent the promising beginnings of the band. If a similar compilation had not already been mastered by any HIM fan, this album could prove to be a sparkling display of their most famous pearls, but in all honesty the main reason for interest 'And Love Said No' is the excellent DVD 'Live At Semifinal', attached to the digipack version and containing six songs from the last 'Love Metal'.

words by Emanuele Biani english translation by Alessandra Gargiulo

HIM – GREATEST LOVESONGS VOL. 666

HIM – GREATEST LOVESONGS VOL. 666


After so many years spent to listen to the music of the Devil it comes pretty spontaneous to wonder what is the real sound of damnation. Is it the black metal, born in the conifers forests and then sacrificed during the freezing Scandinavian nights? Or is it the occult and Ossianic heavy rock from the ’70s conjured with the help of LSD and infernal congregations? Or is it the diabolical indulgence signed by the Stones who depraved the masses of the Brit beat fans through the crossroads of evil? Personally I have always believed that the best way to lead even the purest soul to the extreme limits of debauchery is to exert the huge power of seduction, as we learnt from the Bible itself, by means of forbidden fruits and melliflous snakes. Trying to frighten human beings by means of horrible monsters and sulphurous flames is useless. Better teasing their deepest and most hidden desires, promising them to satisfy even the most impossible wishes, to make them believe they can reach that state of happiness no one can be sure to keep intact and to deserve for the rest of their lives. Is there any passion bigger than love? That sense of predestination and affinity so magically involving and breathtaking to make even a pact with the devil acceptable? ‘Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666’ the debut album by the Finnish band HIM can become, believe it or not, the ideal soundtrack for your path toward perdition. A concise album, apart form the various mute tracks, inserted just to make the total number of the pieces reach 66, with two covers (‘Wicked Game’ by Chris Isaak and ‘Don’t Fear The Reaper’ by Blue Oyster Cult) that the band is able to make so deeply its own that they work perfectly in achieving this album's intense atmosphere, ridefining the main features of rock/metal deriving its influences from gothic issues and posing a remarkable basis of comparison for the future. In 1997 HIM is the first band able to translate Type O Negative's softly erotic sense of dread in a totally personal way, achieving a very successful job, especially considerring the young age of the band members, whose naivety made them abandon the hardcore influence used by the legendary band of Brooklyn and replace it with melodic hints to a more radio friendly rock reminding Bon Jovi and Billy Idol. The style of the songs in the whole album is almost unvaried, but the tracks are pretty eterogeneous and sometimes even purely simple, due to some abrupt keyboard interludes and to some effects on the vocals which break the power of a heavy-metal devoted rhythmic section, which has to kneel down in front of those love and death amazing ballads Ville Valo, singer and composer of the band, so greatly enhances with his deep voice. A big credit for this unpredictability has to be recognized to the producer Hiili Hiilesma, who is the man behind that compact and dynamic sound, which alternates heavier and lighter moments by means of a lot of naturalness, posing the right limits to the artistic verve of an unawarely non conventional band. ‘Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666’ is the album all who want to pave their path to heaven with mean intentions must have, a warm shelter amongst hell's flames, for all those hearts which would otherwise die freezing. A sweet damnation from which you would never aks to be redeemed.


(words by Emanuele Biani, english translation by Margherita Realmonte)

Venus Doom

‘VENUS DOOM’
(SIRE/WARNER)

Review by Emanuele Biani, english translation by Margherita Realmonte

There are bands able to make the best albums of their career coincide with the various periods of their artistic evolution and there are bands whose unique style and attitude let them have just one single chance to reach their highest peak and then they start repeating themselves and become a stereotype to emulate. Not even the deepest love I feel for HIM's music could lead me to include them in the first cathegory, apart from the masterpieces ‘Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666’ and ‘Razorblade Romance’, which both still witness their best achievements in arrangements and lyrics. The next two albums could be considered as a formal try to improve their unrepeatable state of grace. This is the reason why ‘Dark Light’, considered by most reviewers as the weakest ring of the chain, is just the effort made by the band to take some distance from the shadow of their own shining past and gives space to a wider variety of sounds which takes its roots from something similar to the American pop-rock main tunes, whose imitation is not always perfct. Also for ‘Venus Doom’ the produciton is signed by Tim Palmer. This time he doesn't dare to stop the instict of the band for the instrumental intermezzo and even dares to make the sound louder, giving in the pale hands of Ville Valo the first HIM's album which seems to look back on that metal trace left apart since their debut. HIM's leader doesn't miss the chance to write pretty longer and more complex songs than their former standard ones. The main riffs remind even some NWOBHM (‘Dead Lover’s Lane’) and reveal a surprising and unexpected influence by '90s Metallica (‘Passion’s Killing Floor’). All this stuff is obviously harmonically balanced by Valo's passional and melodramatic attitude, hinting to Sabbath during the longest songs as the title track, the single ‘Kiss Of Dawn’ and ‘Sleepwalking Past Hope’, mixing dark baritonal tunes to heartbreaking sighs. Honestly I have to admit there are no proper masterpieces in this album, either from just a commercial point of view or from a purely artistic one. It is also true that the previous album lapse of style is prevented here from the band members high class in performing, after all HIM have nothing left to prove by now. Maybe HIM's sacred fire of artistic originality has gone, but in such a gothic rock scene, practically deprived of true rivals, the good and constant quality of ‘Venus Doom’ can by itself be considered as a guarantee to make the band conquer the New Continent.



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