CD Review: HIM / Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice
In today’s musical landscape, the relevance of music labels seem to be dwindling; however, the number of labels of genres of music seem to be growing by the minute. With rock music being infused with punk, rap, synthesizers and dance music, it’s hard to find a band that is simply “rock n’ roll.” Finnish rock group H.I.M. (formerly known as His Infernal Majesty) prove that rock n’ roll bands do exist, as evidenced by their latest album, Screamworks: Love in Theory & Practice, a no-frills top-to-bottom rock album. Complete with loud guitars, driving bass lines, heavy drumming, big choruses, rock n’ roll screams, and songs of love, hate, death and everything in between, Screamworks proves an enjoyable listen all the way through.
The opening track, “In Venere Veritas,” which roughly translated means “In Love There is Truth,” starts off with lead singer Ville Valo singing “Let’s fall apart together,” without any instrumentation. The band, comprised of Mikko “Linde” Lindstrom (lead guitar), Mikko “Mige” Paananem (bass), Janne “Burton” Puurtinen (keyboards) and Mika “Gas Lipstick” Karppinen (drums), kicks in full throttle, and a thick wandering riff leads into the verse. The verse is quieter, bass driven, with mostly clean guitar melodies, as Valo laments the death of love. “Zipping cupid in a body bag well-worn, Next to the mausoleum he was born in,” The band builds back up to the chorus as Valo sings, “ Have no fear, there are wounds that aren’t meant to heal.” After the second chorus, the band flirt with a brief moment of chanting, before resuming the chorus.
The album’s first single, “Heartkiller,” is a driving rock song from start to finish, and a more optimistic view of love than the opening track. Valo described the song as being about giving up on love until someone comes along who just “kills your heart.” “Farewell heartless world,” Valo sings in the first verse,” I’ll send you a postcard burnt and the flames you tried so hard to extinguish with fear of failing.” Two seconds of a ticking clock separate the verse from the chorus, a rousing moment of rock gold. Optimism rears its head as the hook landed chorus charges forward. “Sparks will fly, beneath the Luna alight, Lazarus at Frankenstein’s, Babe, I’ll be a flat liner for a heart killer.”
Another of the album’s many highlights include “Ode to Solitude” which is, you guessed it, an ode to solitude. The song begins with a mid-tempo intro, the guitars picking out the eerie riff that will come to haunt song throughout. Four bars in, the drums pick up the pace, the guitars now thick with overdrive. The chorus is big, catchy and lyrically, one of my favorites. Sings Valo, “Here’s to the pain, the light of the oncoming train, come on, ode to solitude in chains.”
Like most great rock albums, Screamworks also has a ballad. “Acoustic Funeral (For Love in Limbo)” begins with the keyboards playing a beautiful melody. The full band enters, providing a little edge to the soft melody. During the chorus, one of the finest moments on the album, the guitars are louder and thick with overdrive, but there remains a hauntingly beautiful quality to the song, especially the lyrics. Vallo sings, “The Acoustic funeral for love in limbo, we’re dancing with tags on our toes, I’ve saved my last breath for your window to write you this song.”
From start to finish, Screamworks: Love in Theory & Practice is a valiant effort from the Finnish rockers H.I.M. From the opener “In Venere Veritas” to the album’s charging first single “Heartkiller” to the hard rocking “Katherine Wheel” and the haunting and strange closer “The Foreboding Sense of Impending Happiness,” the album is well-rounded and worth a spot in any rock fan’s music collection.
|1. In Venere Veritas|
|2. Scared To Death|
|4. Dying Song|
|5. Disarm Me [With Your Loneliness]|
|6. Love, The Hardest Way|
|7. Katherine Wheel|
|8. In The Arms Of Rain|
|9. Ode To Solitude|
|10. Shatter Me With Hope|
|11. Acoustic Funeral (For Love In Limbo)|
|12. Like St. Valentine|
|13. The Foreboding Sense Of Impending Happiness|