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Music Review: H.I.M. – Venus Doom

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Hey, let's have another musical genre argument. You know, the one where a band is mis-labeled, followed by incensed fans and ProfessorsOfRock™ coming back with any number of variations on "You idiot!" It's so much fun! Heck, back when I reviewed H.I.M.'s Dark Light, I was informed (without the 'idiot' part) that the band played "goth pop." So be it.

Truth be told, I don't really care what the proper label is because what really matters is this: does the music rock or not? "Yes, hard" is the answer.

Hard, in fact, is the key word here, as this band brings to mind many of the aspects of what, back in the 70's, was called "hard rock." Before we got all hung up on genre specifics, our favorite music was thought of as either "rock" or "hard rock" — and even though some bands straddled the dividing line, it was the amount of induced head-banging that really mattered. Were Led Zeppelin and Blue Oyster Cult rock, hard rock, or even metal? It didn't really matter when you had Spectres or Houses of the Holy annoying your mom through the living room wall!

So sure, Ville Valo's gloomy lyrics of love, doom, and loss do have a gothy feel to them. And yes, Valo's resonant baritone definitely adds to that. What matters to me though, are the crunching guitars, melodies galore, stinging guitar solos, and most important: the degree of head bang-i-tude. Is that a little too Beavis & Butthead for you? Well, you might have a point. Still, when you hear a great song, one that makes you reach for that volume control, are you analyzing or reacting?

Right, I thought so.

H.I.M. has cranked up the heavy on Venus Doom, be it on the dirge like "Cyanide Sun," the title track, or the multi-part suite of "Sleepwalking Past Hope". Is it "goth rock"? Ah, who cares?!

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About Mark Saleski

  • Lisa

    You can label their music whatever you want – all that matters to me is how great their music is!

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    “and most important: the degree of head bang-i-tude.”

    And by that scale, this album doesn’t rate much of a degree. Imo,It is very poppy & too slick.
    I think alot of these so-called “Metal” bands are resorting back to the tactics that put an end to glam rock.

    I can agree that labeling music can be very restrictive & sometimes a nuisance but i think it would be very hard to define specific standards & qualities in music in order to credit those who pioneer & re-invent genres if we didn’t have these categories.

  • http://www.marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    obviously, your version of “poppy” and everybody else’s differ….which is sort of the point.

    was Blue Oyster Cult poppy? sometimes yes, and sometimes no.

  • Riann

    Not only is Ville Valo a rare and true artist, but he is also a rare and true work of art. There is no one else like him, nor will there ever be another.

    It is refreshing to read something from a critic that recognizes a truly amazing band like HIM.

  • Stu-Pot

    Now I’ve been listening to HIM for years and have bought 6 of there albums. This guys rite on the money too. Venus Doom is without doupt, my favorite yet.

  • http://www.myspace.com/justanotherperson_666 Saira

    This article made me smile.
    I agree who cares as long as the music is good.

    Love HIM and Venus Doom is AMAZING

  • Mindy

    When it all comes down to it, H.I.M. along with many other bands such as The Rasmus, The 69 Eyes, Apocalyptica, Atrocity etc., are not innovators in their field. They have not re-invented the world of rock as we know it. They have been able to bring rock to a new level all the while keeping the fundamentals of rock and adding a melody and harmony. Venus Doom is one of the best albums recently released. I would even go as far as saying it is the best album released since TOOL’s Lateralus. Venus Doom is somewhat reminiscent of TOOL regarding the length of Sleepwalking Past Hope and the musical difficulty of the entire album. Venus Doom is definitely an album you must listen to over and over again simply because there are so many layers to the music. I find something new everyday I listen to it.
    As far as the labeling, I believe H.I.M. is a self-professed Love Metal genre. Although I don’t believe this is a genre, it is more of an emotion. A small dark angel sitting on your shoulder bringing forth the dark side of all things good. After all if there was no dark to good we wouldn’t be blessed enough to have a band like H.I.M. If the music brings you to a different place in your mind or life then who are we to degrade it by labeling?
    Next time you have chance to see H.I.M. live I suggest you do. They have had an amazing show every time I have seen them. I am sure it can only get better with the addition of Venus Doom tracks to the set list.

  • http://www.marksaleski.com Mark Saleski

    music perceptions are funny things, eh? i mean, i’ve really had a blast listening to this record…and you bring up Tool’s Lateralus, which for some reason i can’t stand.

  • Patrik desalvo

    Hell h.i.m. is the best thing the world will ever see. Venus Doom is the best album the band has put out yet. Unlike the past albums they got alot heaver. I would like to know what made Ville write such amazing lyrics. All i have to say to Ville and the rest of the band is keep up the good work.

  • http://www.untildawn.nl Dias

    This album is’nt fantastic, it’s just another add to my HIM collection. It will never equall to Razorblade Romance, this still is there best album. Although the music’s gotten more technique and more complicated compositions, I miss the easy-listning and passion in there music. Don’t get me wrong! I love this band! But the last Best album they made was Lovemetal. The following albums are indeed too slick and too glam.

  • http://www.butterflyfiction.com/journal/ Connie Phillips

    Congrats! This article has been forwarded to the Advance.net websites and Boston.com.

  • http://myspace.com/kaykierray Kailee

    Venus Doom is a pretty darn amazing album, out of all of them i dont have a favorite, and what you might not understand is that Razorblade Romance wasnt really they’re “style” i do believe i’ve read something about Gas not really liking it because it’s not “metal.” i have to agree that Ville is spectacular, and to be able to sing, write, and play the way he does is truely spectacular. i’ve been listening to the album every night all night since i got it, and i found that i can’t fall asleep without listening to it. i love it.
    and HIM. forevermyfavorite :]

  • Sampire

    Mark, I love you for writting this. I couldn’t agree more. =D

  • Ashley

    Nice review. Who the fuck cares what genre they are. People get too caught up in that stuff anyway. Good music is good music, IMO.

  • wrath

    hey fuckers! first of all if you call a band your favorite band you cant diss any of there albums…
    Ville’s HOTT!”sleepwalking past hope”fukin rules!also “venus doom” “passions killing floor” “bleed well”hell the whole fukin album rules!all of H.I.M albums rock…and lastly its called “love metal”

  • SaraLM

    H.I.M. is the greatest band to EVER walk the planet! Ville Valo is God in my book, he is more than an artist or a musician, he is EVERYTHING a person should be, Strong enough to write what he feels, yet sensitive enough to know how to say things! Ville, you are the man that every woman should dream of having in their lives! Rakastan sinua sweetheart!

  • http://mygothcom narnina

    my darlings I love it album Bleed well ,passions killing flor very good .
    hot kiss you honey

  • Hannah

    HIM fucking rocks! i love Venus Doom. Though I cannot say I have a “favorite song”, cause they
    all are a work of art in their own lyric and melody. I listen to them all the time, and never get tired of them! :)