Strange World by HIM (Review)

Review of Strange World by HIM – plus upcoming new album

The Finnish love metallers known collectively as HIM released a new single last Friday. The song ‘Strange World’ is a cover originally written by the artist known as . After enjoying success in Europe that arguably peaked with 2003’s ‘Love Metal’ and finally achieving gold status in America with 2005’s ‘Dark Light’ the band very quickly descended into obscurity after their last record ‘Screamworks’ turned out to be a commercial failure the world over.

‘Strange World’ is the first new material the band has put out in over two years and honestly is somewhat underwhelming. HIM has released some great covers in the past, indeed ‘Wicked Game’ put the band on the map in Europe back in the late 90’s and it’s a fan favourite at live shows to this day. ‘Strange World’ on the other hand is a very generic pop rock release, sounding like a band going through the motions just for the sake of putting out a radio friendly track. I’ll grant you that it at least packs a little more of that razorblade punch that was distinctly lacking in ‘Screamworks’.

If I’m sounding cynical it is probably because this single is not part of a new album but acting as the unique selling point for the band’s 2nd greatest hits record entitled ‘XX- Two Decades Of Love Metal’. The last time HIM made a greatest hits record was apparently to fulfil their 5 album contract with BMG so they could move to Warner’s Sire Records. A greatest hits tour on the other hand I WOULD be excited about!

The timing of this compilation record is curious since they’ve already left Sire and are currently working on their 8th studio album ‘Tears On Tape’ due out early 2013. Perhaps it is a genuine celebration of their 20th anniversary since formation or more than likely this release is simply to remind the world they still exist before putting a new album out with a different label. Anyways the compilation is due out late October.

As a long time HIM fan I am both anxious and excited for their new record, particularly since frontman Ville Valo stated in a Kerrang interview back in February that he wants to bring back the doom-laden sound of the old days when they were directly influenced by Black Sabbath. His conviction is evidenced with his decision to ditch Sire who wanted radio friendly singles instead. More good news is that Finnish producer Hiili Hiilesmaa (the man responsible for ‘Love Metal’ and the outstanding ‘Venus Doom’) is back at the helm. HIM fans can get excited again!

PS. Speaking of HIM’s covers; there is a great video of them doing Back Street Boy’s ‘Larger Than Life’ at Gurten Festival on youtube. It was back in 2000 so Valo was still drinking heavily at the time, hilariously entertaining and ironically quite good!

Review by Al Westlake

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6 thoughts on “Strange World by HIM (Review)

  1. They’re doing a new album!? I thought these guys had died!! Screamworks wasn’t THAT bad but certainly their weakest. A 2013 interpretation of GLS vol.666 would be awesome, bring back the gothic, doomy keyboards and the fuzzy guitars!!! x

  2. I’ve been a H.I.M fan myself and its great to see such a well written article. I couldn’t agree more with every single thing you wrote but I do agree with Amy as well, cause screamworks was not that bad . It was wired to me at first cause it was lacking that Finnish sound they had before and was clearly so american rock and roll, but I grew to love the album. I mean having 13 tracks plus the acoustics from H.I.M is never a bad thing!

    Their strongest,deepest,darkest and by far their best work, in my opinion is Venus Doom.
    Thank God the new single is a cover and is not included in the upcoming album, cause to be frank I was So Disappointed by it.

    singing about “love” never gets old but I was a teenager when I fell in love with the band and now I’m 26 years old and I only hope the band will grow with me. There’s a lot going on in the world right now, my concerns, my beliefs and my thoughts have grown and I want nothing more than for my favorite band to reflect my emotions once again.

    • So sorry for the very late reply to all your lovely comments! I try to check back on older articles every now and then to respond to discussion but I’d forgotten until very recently I’d written this! Lol. What caused me to remember was a stir surrounding the band recently as Valo has finally gone into a bit of detail regarding the sound of the new record, not saying much but that the extremes are bigger than ever before, more specifically the heavy parts will be the band’s heaviest to date and the beautiful parts will be the band’s most beautiful (subtle paraphrase but ‘heaviest’ and ‘most beautiful’ were the terms used). Can’t remember the link to the interview but will try and find it again.

      The band has also unveiled a song called ‘I will be the end of you’ at a gig they played in Finland on Boxing Day, needless to say there are youtube videos. I’m opting not to listen to them. A friend of mine says it sounds a bit like dead lover’s lane if it were on the love metal album. Let me know if you agree with her as I won’t know ‘til the album comes out.
      I’m happy to see two of you share my opinion that Venus Doom is a brilliant record (possibly my favourite).

      To Shahrzad specifically, I like some songs off Screamworks (love the hardest way, st valentine, impending happiness), lyrically it is a very strong album but sonically I cared little for it. The acoustic versions of the songs carried much more weight IMO as they let the lyrics do their job and create the atmosphere and the melancholy behind them wasn’t shot down with conflicting 80’s synth pop. I like HIM’s poppy stuff too, I really like Dark Light for example but SW was just solid mediocrity for me. Not offensive in any way but took no risks yet didn’t play to the band’s existing strengths either.

      PS. HIM confirmed for Download 2013.

  3. I agree that ‘Strange World’ is not the strongest HIM has been, but it certainly has got more balls than anything on Screamworks. However, as it is with most HIM covers, I often look at the original and try and connect why this track got picked from Valo’s jukebox. Lets break it down: it is europop – a forgotten and abused music, androgynous lead singer, he became massive in Europe and was carried to the top by big fan bases in Germany, Italy and the UK but his music was never released in the USA and in turn fell in obscurity while remaining a cult icon. I’m beginning to see a pattern here. I imagine that this was more of a motivating factor to cover the song than the fact it is meant to be an….anti-war anthem? Wikipedia has spoken.

    Let’s all just hope that the new record is written with the creative spirit as Venus Doom…either that or we have to get Valo off the wagon.

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