Reviewed by Meghan Player
It’s hard to believe that for 20 years, Finnish five-piece HIM have been unleashing their unique ‘love metal’ sound the world over – leaving a path of Heartagram tattoos and swooning fans in their wake. Once destined to be the album that perhaps never was, the band are thankfully back in fine form with ‘Tears On Tape‘.
‘Unleash The Red‘ is the perfect opener, and quintessentially a HIM trait. A melodic, brooding instrumental piece sweeps you up into a dramatic crescendo, before crashing down into the opening chords of ‘All Lips Go Blue’. Thunderous guitars pound out your speakers as haunting melodies interplay amongst frontman Ville Valo’s signature vocals.
Not to be outdone, ‘Love Without Tears‘ continues on the dramatic path, manifested by the bands ability to pen one hell of a song. “...that love without tears is just a story told, to keep us hanging on…” croons Valo, as the melody almost dances hypnotically around the listener.
First single and title track ‘Tears On Tape‘, shifts the tone and mood of the album – offering a moment of reflection, a flicker of light amongst the impending darkness of the previous tracks. Perhaps by personal preference, ‘Into The Night‘ remains a standout on the album – five, ten, twenty listens in. The distorted guitar riff opening demands your attention, willing you to turn your speakers up as far as they can possibly go. The infectious melody is insatiable, the lyrics [once again] a testament to the bands unparalleled story-telling.
‘Trapped In Autumn‘, a brief instrumental interlude – seems to conjure up melodies that wouldn’t have been out of place on previous album ‘Screamworks…‘, while ‘No Love‘ breaks the ambience with Valo screaming “Forever and ever!” However, it’s by the time the semi-acoustic ‘Drawn & Quartered‘ begins, you have found yourself completely entranced and possessed by the album.
‘Lucifer’s Chorale‘ is probably the most left-field track on the album, a bizarre mix of distortion that sounds like the gates of Hell are beginning to open. ‘W.L.S.T.D‘ [or ‘When Love Starts To Die‘] is the band at it’s foreboding and dramatic best, with Valo’s vocals moving between velvety-smooth crooning to a menacing baritone.
Finale ‘Kiss The Void‘ is quite an obscure ending – considering the darkness and melancholy that the rest of the album produced. The whirring of different noises, voices, melodies interplaying throughout almost feel like it is up to the listener to decide how the “story” ends. A dramatic end to a dramatic album.
Quite simply, ‘Tears On Tape‘ is the album HIM fans have been waiting for. The signature melodies, guitar riffs and profound lyricism have lost none of their “deep shadows and brilliant highlights”. This is a band that has remained true to their original sound, style and story – and have become infinitely better with each album. While this is being rumoured as the bands final album, I can honestly say as a long-time fan, that this is one of the bands finest – a true testament to everything the five-piece have created and the journey they have taken fans on, no matter how dark it has been.