“Uneasy Listening Vol. 1” by HIM

Artist: HIM
Title: “Uneasy Listening Vol. 1”
Label: Universal Republic Records
Release Date: 11/14/2006
Genre: Gothic Acoustic
Rating: 4/5

This CD is something that will appeal instantly to the existing supporters of Ville Vallo and the band HIM. “Uneasy Listening Vol. 1” is a collection of stripped down versions of their greatest songs that are done either with string arrangements or acoustically while some others are recorded live. Having been a fan of HIM for a number of years I found this CD a lot more interesting after a couple of listens rather than my first go round. As it spun the second time I was reminded what I loved about the band in the first place and that was the strength and power of the lyrics that Vallo weaves on track after track. His reign as the King of the Melodic Gothic Pop scene came as a result of the often brooding and melancholy vibe that he would deliver on these often morose numbers such as “Join Me In Death” and “When Love And Death Embrace”. Yet while the subject matter often seemed grim there was a sense of light based on love deep within these sad lines. There are several winning pieces presented here and one of the first I found was the tissue worthy “In Joy And Sorrow” and then in the heart wrenching “Buried Alive By Love”. The latter tune is one of the bands most throttling rockers, so hearing it in an acoustic sense shows both the strength of the tune and the capabilities of the group as a whole. “Gone With The Sin” is interesting as there is such great cello work that it made me wonder if Apocalyptica were doing this with them but since there is no mention of them on the album liner notes I am left with questions about this one. The overall selection of tracks is wide and scopes the earlier years of the bands catalog and given it is labeled as Volume 1, I am pretty certain that there will be other editions to follow this one. I had read a posting that some of these tracks were available on a hard to find singles boxed set, so this might be the way they are aiming to reach a mass audience.

Some of the inclusions are not too different from the originals with “Join Me In Death” and “When Love And Death Embrace” but there are subtleties on them that I think the fans will like just the same. I admit some disappointment in not finding a track like “Fortress Of Tears” or “Poison Girl” which I would have loved to hear acoustically, but perhaps this will be part of Volume 2 whenever that arrives. Ville is to be commended for the purity and passion in his voice and the band for their ability to change from the normal way of doing things. While Vallo shows this same passion on the usual more electric and dark releases, I really took away a larger awareness of how good he actually is from this one. There are not many bands that can place their material in such a setting and have it work. HIM music, like it or not, is very capable and adaptable stuff that is well-deserving of all the acclaim that it generates.

Track Listing:
1. The Sacrament
2. The Funeral Of Hearts
3. Join Me In Death
4. Close To The Flame
5. In Joy And Sorrow
6. It’s All Tears
7. When Love And Death Embrace
8. Buried Alive By Love
9. Gone With The Sin
10. Salt In Our Wounds
11. Please Don’t Let It Go
12. One Last Time
13. For You
14. The Path
15. Lose You Tonight

Official Website: www.heartagram.com

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