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 Ké. 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