Hailing from Helsinki, Finland and crafting a mix of metal, goth and hard rock they called "love metal," H.I.M. -- known early on as His Infernal Majesty -- was founded in 1991 by vocalist Ville Valo, guitarist Mikko "Linde" Lindström, and bassist Mikko "Migé" Paananen. During the band's early years, they released two demos, 1992's unreleased Witches and Other Night Fears, and an untitled 1995 tape that fans christened This Is Only the Beginning; that year, the band also added drummer Juhana Tuomas Rantala to the fold. After signing a record contract with BMG, their first official release was 1996's 666 Ways to Love: Prologue, a Finland-only release limited to 1,000 copies that featured the band's cover of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game." By the time of the group's first album, 1997's Greatest Lovesongs, Vol. 666, they had shortened their name to H.I.M. and recruited keyboardist Antto Einari Melasniemi. The album earned the band a cult following in their homeland, one that spread to the rest of Europe with 2009's Razorblade Romance. Featuring the single "Join Me in Death" -- which became the best-selling Finnish single in history -- the album topped the German and Finnish charts. When the album was released in the U.S. in 2002, a legal challenge initially resulted in the band going under the HER moniker until they bought the full rights to the H.I.M. name; 1000 copies of the American version of Razorblade Romance were pressed with the HER name. H.I.M. also won a fan in professional skater Bam Margera, who took every opportunity to promote the band’s music on his popular MTV series Viva La Bam. In 2001, Valo, Lindström, and Paananen formed the side project Daniel Lioneye, which featured Lindström on vocals and guitars, Valo on drums, and Paananen on bass; the project's debut album The King of Rock 'n' Roll arrived that September. H.I.M. also released its third album, Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights, around that time. The first album to feature keyboardist Emerson Burton, it once again topped the German and Finnish charts. H.I.M. returned two years later with Love Metal, the band's first album to display their "heartagram" logo on the cover instead of a picture of Valo. Margera directed the video for one of Love Metal's singles, "Buried Alive by Love." The following year, H.I.M.'s first compilation, And Love Said No: The Greatest Hits '97-'04 arrived, featuring the title track and a cover of Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man" as exclusive songs. The band's 2005 album Dark Light marked their true breakthrough in the U.S., reaching the Top 20 of the Billboard 200 and becoming the first Finnish album to achieve gold sales status in America. Another pair of compilations, Uneasy Listening, Vol. 1 (which featured the band's lighter songs) and Uneasy Listening, Vol. 2 (which featured their heavier songs), arrived in 2006 and 2007 respectively. H.I.M.'s sixth album Venus Doom also arrived in 2007, and featured the singles "The Kiss of Dawn" and "Bleed Well"; the album was nominated for a Best Boxed/Special Limited-Edition Packaging Grammy that year, but lost to What It Is!: Funky Soul and Rare Grooves. The group's first live album/DVD package Digital Versatile Doom was released in 2008, and H.I.M. returned with new material two years later with Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice, which the band recorded in Los Angeles with producer Matt Squire. Later that year, the remix album SWRMXS was made available as a digital release and as an exclusive CD at Hot Topic stores. In 2011, H.I.M. left Sire/Warner Records and began working on their eighth album, but it was delayed because of a bone condition drummer Gas Lipstick (aka Mika Karppinen) suffered. In August 2012, producer Tim Palmer, who worked with the band on Dark Light and Venus Doom, announced he was working with H.I.M. in London on new material. That October, the compilation XX: Two Decades of Love Metal arrived and featured a new track, a cover of the song "Strange World." The band's eighth album, Tears on Tape, featured mixing work by Palmer and production by Hiili Hiilesmaa; was released in early 2013. In 2017, after a four-year silence, the band announced its breakup after 26 years together.
© Heather Phares /TiVo
© Heather Phares /TiVo
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Rock - Released April 30, 2013 | Razor & Tie
There is a certain segment of rock & roll fandom that is adverse to change for any reason. Usually, it's an older generation that loves acts whose albums continue to sound the same. (Hardcore followers of Status Quo, Bon Scott-era AC/DC, and pre-synth ZZ Top take note.) Fans of Finnish goth pop rockers H.I.M. are hardly baby boomers, though. In listening to their catalog, one or two things become self-evident: either they are happy to give their fans exactly what they desire over and over again, or they are incapable of change (or perhaps both, which is a win-win). Tears on Tape proves that H.I.M. moves forward and back but remains mostly in one place. Certain albums rock a bit harder, some feature more polished production, but essentially the hooks, song structures, and dynamics have remained the same throughout their history. The twin subjects on TOT are love and death. Lead crooner/ lyricist Ville Valo has romantic love firmly at the center of his vocabulary, and celebrates its riches, mourns its loss, and meditates on its meaning. Here he examines love as it encounters the greatest of all human mysteries: the great beyond. First single, "Lips Go Blue," commences with a riff worthy of Black Sabbath, but as keyboards and guitars vie for dominance, Valo croons about literally loving someone to death in a '60s bubble gum pop melody. Speaking of Sabbath (H.I.M.'s guitarist is married to Tony Iommi's daughter), they pay formal tribute by appropriating the riff from "A National Acrobat" in "Love Without Tears." "Into the Night" starts out with a rawer guitar edge but quickly slips into melodic, romantic '80s hair metal. "No Love" attempts to shake off the lyricism in favor of full-on, riff-centric metal that is musically reminiscent of Dio's finer moments, but it doesn't succeed because of its ballad-esque hook. "W.L.S.T.D." gets closer still with its slow progression, martial drums, and atmospheric keyboards; even in his most sinister snarl, Valo is so wistful he sounds like a jilted schoolboy, and H.I.M. are incapable of writing songs without proper hooks. Tears on Tape delivers exactly what the band's fans seem to require: a tragic, nearly ghoulish fascination with love and death that marries gothic pop romanticism with heavy rock. How many records does one need like this? Here H.I.M. seem to be banking a lot; and with more than 20 years and boatloads of albums and singles, who's going to argue? © Thom Jurek /TiVo