“Venus Doom” by HIM

Artist: HIM
Title: “Venus Doom”
Label: Sire Records
Release Date: 9/18/2007
Genre: Gothic Hard Rock/Doom Metal
Rating: 4/5

For the Hard Rock and Metal fans who have long felt that the music of HIM was a little too light for their tastes then I present to them the bands newest and darkest release to date – the crushing and melancholic “Venus Doom”. Crushing because there is just a lot more “oomph” to the guitar sound than we have found coming from HIM in the recent past and melancholic based on the subject matter that Vallo is singing about, and how he delivers it. Let’s face it – he’s never come across as the happiest guy in the world with tunes like “Join Me In Death” or “Fortress Of Tears” so why change the working formula now. Musically this release is a far cry from the commercially viable fare that we found on their US debut “Dark Light” and as a result the overall catchiness of the tunes will take a little more work on the listener’s part. There’s no “Vampire Heart” or “(Rip Out The) Wings Of A Butterfly” on this one that you can easily sing along to but when you hear tracks like the opening title “Venus Doom” and “Passions Killing Floor”, you will find that the brooding grooves they lay down are almost hypnotic. Across the release we have Ville singing in the voice we all know and love but there are also a few vocal tricks that he pulls out of his hat that made me think the band at some point listened to a little Type-O-Negative. When he uses the deep solemn tone he reminded me very much of Peter Steele lead singer from that Brooklyn based band.

The album is definitely their heaviest to date and with the intro that is used for “The Kiss Of Dawn”, you are most likely to agree with me on this. They band then take a wide angle turn by delivering an epic number in “Sleepwalking Past Hope” and this one runs over ten minutes in length. In the past HIM has done some long numbers but never one that went this long or explored as many different heavy vibes throughout its course as this one does. There might be a little confusion on the release based on the consistent amount of shifting gears that they do as the songs progress. For instance they will start out heavy, and then slow down to a subtle whisper, and then get heavy as hell once again. Some of the riffs come right out of the book of Black Sabbath and it was great to see HIM delving more into the Doom Metal side for they do it quite well. If this shows anything to the casual fan it’s that the guys are also capable musicians and can formulate a complex tune as well as any other band that does this sort of thing more often. I found that it also made me refer to a couple of the songs a couple of more times to make sure that I had absorbed them well enough. The guys definitely played their hearts out on this one so Mikko, Gas, Mikko and Burton are to be commended on the final product.

When we get down to “Dead Lover’s Lane” I felt that we had something very reminiscent of the tunes that were on “Razorblade Romance”, which was my own introduction to the band. Between this track and “Bleed Well” I felt we were finding the most easily accessible numbers for those fans who might fear this now showing heavier side that the band has chosen to let loose. Overall this was a very interesting listen but it needed a couple of runs through in the changer for me to be totally taken with it. That’s never a bad thing as you don’t often want to be too quick to judge a release after you hear it once. What I liked most about it was that it showed how HIM follows no path but their own and refuses to deliver the same thing with every new album. As a release this one stands strong on its own and if you wanted to see another side of the group then you would do well to investigate deeper into it. Lyrics are provided in the booklet and are in the font of Ville’s own hand-writing and the cover sports a very Leroy Neiman/Salvador Dali type of portrait of the singer.

Track Listing:

1. Venus Doom
2. Love In Cold Blood
3. Passion’s Killing Floor
4. The Kiss Of Dawn
5. Sleepwalking Past Hope
6. Dead Lover’s Land
7. Song Or Suicide
8. Bleed Well
9. Cyanide Sun

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