Album Review: HIM – Screamworks: Love in Theory & Practice

by Laura Hamilton on February 10, 2010

You would think that featuring love as your sole inspiration for so many years may provide you with more luck on the subject, but in the case of HIM, a steady relationship will always find a way to elude them. Curses! Will their tortured souls ever catch a break? For the sake of their wallets, I certainly hope not.

The first time I ever saw HIM was at the 2006 Sasquatch Festival up in Washington. The wind was blowing a good 20 mph and the roadies were in a constant scramble, but HIM were real professionals. It’s really a miracle that they sound so good: the Finnish lead singer, Ville Valo, is rarely seen out in the wild without one cigarette lit and another ready to spark. Maybe lingonberries are a powerful anti-carcinogen.

Whenever listening to HIM in the past, I’ve always had the problem distinguishing one song from another, and Screamworks is no exception. The major difference between this album and HIM’s previous six is a greater incorporation of keyboards. To say they all blend together is not meant as a criticism, it just means that nothing really sticks out on this album, unlike Dark Light and Love Metal. If you already enjoy the sound HIM has built with their previous work, you will certainly enjoy this latest installment. If I had to choose a favorite, it would probably be ”Heartkiller” or “In the Arms of Rain” because the additional keyboard work reminded me of The Postal Service.

Although I think this album will be well received by you HIM fans, there is some room for criticism and it’s best not to waste valuable space. I really hate to say it, but there are points within the album where it felt like Ville was channeling the spirit of Nickelback: “Katherine Wheel” is a good example. If your thought process just went something like this, Oh man! Nickelback? Awesome!’ please stop reading this review. The depths of the guitar were sometimes lacking compared to the chest thumping octaves that make HIM such a joy to watch on stage. This may not seem all that tragic, but I stress the importance of their roots because it is this sound that reminds us to take a chance on the non-UK import aisle at the record store. I don’t know, maybe I’m just getting too old and grumpy for a band that outgrew my teenage admiration many years ago.

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