Monday, January 19, 2009

HIM - "And Love Said No: Greatest Hits 1997 - 2004"

My introduction to HIM (previously and sometimes still referred to as His Infernal Majesty, or shortened to H.I.M) was an introduction similar to many others I've experiences with other bands I've somehow gotten into. HIM was a name I had heard before ... I knew the genre was a melancholy mix of goth rock and metal, and I even knew they hailed not from the US, but Finland. I'd flirted with some of the band's tracks, listening to thirty-second previews on iTunes. I often caught myself staring in awe at some of the band's cover art, for albums such as Razorblade Romance (2000) or Greatest Lovesongs, Volume 666 (1997). However, for whatever reason, nothing could convince me to finally sit down and listen to any extent of the band's music.
But, as fate would have it, I finally had an HIM song thrust upon me; by watching a countdown on Fuse, as often occurs. The new music video for Killing Loneliness was airing, and I couldn't help but pay attention. From the very opening notes of the song - a piano melody, soon accompanied by heavy guitars and a whining keyboard - I was hooked, and as the song progressed, I fell more and more in love with everything about this band.
So, I finally forked over the cash and came home with HIM's greatest hits album, And Love Said No. Released in 2007, the album contains most every major track HIM has released since their first album was put out ten years prior.
And I must say, this album is anything but disappointing. Giving you a taste for every unique aspect of this band, And Love Said No draws you into a fantasy land of love ... and death.
This is an album review for HIM's And Love Said No: Greatest Hits 1997 - 2004.

HIM - And Love Said No: Greatest Hits 1997 - 2004 (2007)

1. And Love Said No - A soft track, the verses are formed mostly around one guitar theme. The choruses, however, pick up with crashing cymbals and powerful vocals. The lyrics in this song take my breath away and make it one of my favorites on the album.
2. Join Me In Death - Track Two embodies everything about H.I.M's obsession with love and death, and the combination of the two. The piano makes its first impact on the album, with the guitars taking a back seat to the drums which carry through the verses. And, as always, Ville Valo's exceptional vocal range creates a haunting mood around the entire track.
3. Buried Alive By Love - Picking up the pace, Track Three starts out strong and doesn't let up. While the volume or the tempo may waver, the intensity of this song never seems to wane. Some of my favorite vocals are on this track; specifically, in the pre-chorus. With powerful, desperate vocals and the strong guitar theme, this song is teeming with adrenaline.
4. Heartache Every Moment - The piano and keyboard open this track up and continue their presence in the choruses, giving this song its haunting presence. Rhythmic guitar and drum lines draw you in, and poetic lyrics tell another tale of love gone wrong. Not a standout, in my opinion, but not to be overlooked.
5. Solitary Man - Strumming guitars back up emotionally charged vocals to deliver another upbeat track. The chorus is definitely the highlight of Track Five, with it's catchy hook and melodies. Valo takes plenty of opportunities to exercises his vocal talents, especially noted before the brief guitar solo after the second chorus.
6. Right Here In My Arms - A lower vocal range during the verses gives this song a different sound from the others. Again, cymbal crashes carry us through the verses, with the guitars picking up right before the choruses and dying down afterwards. With lyrics and vocals both painful in essence, this track is certainly one which draws you in.
7. Funeral of Hearts - The band slows down the tempo without in Track Seven without losing any of the passion or desperation. An acoustic guitar strums in the background as the vocals rise and fall, with the piano and guitars each having their turn in the spotlight. The lyrics fill this track with so much raw emotion ... simply lovely.
8. In Joy And Sorrow - Track Eight keeps things soft and (bitter)sweet. Acoustic guitars and piano melodies take the stage behind another lower, captivating vocal range which tells this tragic love story. Simply a gorgeous track, it's impossible not to be drawn in.
9. Your Sweet 666 - One of the songs which has given HIM the label as a "satanic band". Whatever your opinion of the title or lyrics, this is the kind of song that you get stuck in your head. Personally, I adore this track, and find the lyrics heartbreaking and beautiful. Plenty of chances are taken throughout the band during this track, and it really pays off.
10. Gone With The Sin - Track Ten starts off almost inaudibly low and soft, with the same captivating vocals. When the lyrics are finally paired with acoustic guitars, keyboard, and drums, the passion behind it all is nearly overwhelming. A gorgeous love song and a perfect lullaby, this is definitely one of my album favorites.
11. Wicked Game - The guitars in this track give you an idea why HIM might be classified as any form of metal. As a whole, this track seems to have a lot more elements than the others on the album; the vocal range, from extremely low in the vocals to the high note which opens the chorus, keeps this song interesting throughout, and the background vocals during the chorus are a unique touch. Every chance taken on this track was 110% worth it.
12. The Sacrament - The piano theme of this track gives the entire song an almost fairytale quality. When paired with the strumming guitars, rhythmic drums, empowered vocals, and lovestruck lyrics, this song overflows with an other world-ly feel. A captivating track as a whole, with the piano definitely standing apart.
13. Close To The Flame - Soft, yet strong, this track moves quiet and slow as it tells its story. The keyboard and piano pair up once again to create a passionate, haunting theme. The bass also makes its first obvious appearance and, backing up Valo's voice, creates another beautiful lullaby.
14. Poison Girl - The guitars shine once again in Track Fourteen, with enough venom to make you forget this is a love song. The only truly angry, remorseful track on the album ... and yet, the entire band executes it flawlessly. A track which stands apart from the rest ... and yet, in some strange way, fits in perfectly.
15. Pretending - A few unique twists are added to this track to make it a little more than ordinary. The keyboard makes a conspicuous entrance in the intro and chorus of the song, accompanied by a nearly techno sound effect to give the track just enough "something extra" to make it a little different. Otherwise, not an outstanding track, besides the typically well-written lyrics.
16. When Love And Death Embrace - The keyboard gets one more chance to steal the stage on the final track of the album. The cymbal crashes and bass back up Valo's passionate, broken hearted vocals and lyrics, while the keyboard theme swells and dies during the chorus. A soft, desperate track, this is the perfect way to end such a phenomenal album.

This is just another example of why I should simply take the time to look up these bands I'm interested in, instead of waiting for them to find me. Because, had I done so, I would have been entranced by HIM's music a long, long time ago.
If you're interested in HIM, I encourage you to check out the following links.

HIM's website can keep you updated on the band's news, tour dates, and other information.

Lyrics to all the songs on this album as well as HIM's many other efforts can be found on this website.

I've decided to share with you the music video for The Sacrament. The video in itself is stunning, and the song, breathtaking ... but, together, it seems you can really appreciate the entire story the band is trying to tell.
So, please enjoy The Sacrament, by HIM. And, please, do yourself a favor; check out other music by this extraordinary band.

HIM - The Sacrament Official Music Video

H.I.M. - Sacrament - Omnes