HIM is arguably the most successful metal band to come out of Finland. With their major exposure in the US thanks to Bam Margera and being celebrated by the chain store, Hot Topic; the band spoke to a generation of people who wanted that right mix of goth, pop, rock, and metal. Did they succeed? For the world’s scope, they certainly did. But what about to my ears? Well explore this with the latest edition of Backwards Marathon covering all 8 of HIM’s studio LPs, which of course, could not be released on a better day...VALENTINE’S DAY to talk about some Love Metal!
1.) No EPs, cover albums, live albums, b-side albums, or best of/greatest hits collections. Just original studio LPs. Albums that have a cover or two on it are just fine.
2.) This is just my opinions on the albums in question. No outside influences other than my own and is far from a definitive world ranking. If you have a different ranking, AWESOME! Keep that up!
3.) The reason for doing this to help people get into a band/artist/etc and give ideas of what to expect if they decide to dive into the work.
4.) This is ranked from least favorite to favorite (countdown/TRL style). I will give a few words about every album as we go down the list.
5.) There will be a Spotify playlist (where applicable) to go along with the list with a song off each album so you can get another idea of what to expect. The songs will either be my favorite song off the album or one that represents the album the best in my eyes. (if you are reading this on social media, click the official link to get the playlist)
6.) Have fun and spread the word....SPREAD IT!
8.) Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice (2010)
This album was absolutely not recorded with my preferences in mind. While this is Ville Valo’s first album after getting sober; the album has a very diverse and poppy side to them. Kind of like a 80s gothic poppy 2000s album. While this album will hit right at home for some people and I gotta commend Valo for getting sober and making the band last as long as it did after; This is the one album I never go back to. Nothing captured my interest long enough for must spin again qualities. I imagine it could also be a good gateway album for those that aren’t really into rock music to get a first taste of what HIM could do for them.
7.) Tears On Tape (2013)
The band’s final album is one that does not feel like it should have been their swansong, though in a way, it still does. This is everything that the band was known for with a new, final, spin. Some songs are quite doomy, other songs are quite poppy, others are straight ahead rockers, others are haunting ballads. If that doesn’t describe HIM in a nutshell, what does? All in all, it’s the band’s farewell, but it is quite an enjoyable listen and if the band ever comes back down the road...I wouldn’t mind a proper farewell album.
6.) Dark Light (2006)
When I was a junior in high school, this is when all the “cool kids” finally discovered HIM and boy, was Wings of a Butterfly overplayed by everyone I know. Without question this is the most accessible album the band ever put out. And yeah, Wings of a Butterfly ended up being the band’s biggest hit (I THINK?) in the states and it’s actually a shame I didn’t give the rest of an album a chance at the time. I was in the pigheaded mindset still that if WOAB was the single, the album won’t be any better. I was wrong. It’s a very solid poppy goth rock album and yeah, If you want the HIM experience in it’s catchiest form, Dark Light is the album for you.
5.) Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights (2001)
I gotta credit this album in the same way as Dream Theater’s Falling Into Infinity. This was not the vision of the album the band wanted, the writing process was strenuous thanks to the record label and getting a producer that just did not mesh well with the band (though some ideas Valo actually admits benefited the songs); this album was the album that saw the meteoric rise of the band from their previous release...and tried to make it more of a cash cow than authentic. The end result was in the middle with the lyrics and songs still sounding great, but it is definitely a poppy album for the band and they did the best they could under the situation they were in. Absolutely worth a spin as some songs are absolute classics.
4.) Love Metal (2003)
Not just the genre name given to the band throughout the years, but the most organic and authentic HIM album made. After the frustrations of their previous album, The band wanted to go in a more authentic route and spin out tunes of where the band was at the time. You get a very rocky, heavy, and fun album that just sounds like the band is the happiest they were ever at (which is funny considering the lyrics of almost every single HIM song). If you want to see the sides of the band that showcase what the band is all about, both as their signature sound, and sounds you never really here in the band again, check this one out.
3.) Razorblade Romance (2000)
Surprised to see this one at number 1? At one time I would be as well. This was the album that brought me to the goth prom. This is not only the breakout album for the band, but the sound that is the most recognizable for the band (unless Dark Light was your entry way, then that is more of what you are used to). To this day, my favorite HIM song is Right Here In My Arms, I just think it is the perfect “single” song. Heavy, catchy, poppy, haunting, and even has a frigging hand clap section! What’s not to love? This will always have a near and dear spot in my heart as when I checked it out at the time, it was the album I needed...though I couldn’t relate entirely as I never had a girlfriend in high school, so...yeah…ANYWAYS!!!! This is the signature HIM album, go check it out if you wanna know what the hubbub was all about.
2.) Venus Doom (2007)
Boy, did this album come out at another great time in my live. This is the heaviest, angriest, doomiest, and on some days, BEST album HIM ever put out. While this album does suffer the Downward Spiral effect; where this album was made when Valo was essentially in mental hell from mental health issues, relationship issues, and sobriety issues. When you hear the lyrics on this album, you definitely hear it. Seriously, if you love bands like Anathema, My Dying Pride, Woods of Ypres, and yeah let’s face it, Type O Negative; This will become your favorite Him album. Seriously, this is the biggest departure the band ever took and even though the circumstances were horrific; the final product is a masterpiece.
1.) Greatest Love Songs Vol. 666 (1997)
Yeah, this is my favorite era of Him, along with Venus Doom (seriously, these two album could even change places by the time I write this up). This was the raw,k gothic, haunting, sinister, and atmospheric. And the guitar tone...yeah this has one of my favorite guitar tones on an album. I get that the tone won’t be for everyone, but this is how you make a freaking heavy guitar tone work. While some songs on this album were later re-recorded and re-covered on Razorblade Romance; I honestly prefer the original versions of all of those songs (though I will happily enjoy either version). This also features my favorite cover of Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear The Reaper. I love when a band can take a song and make it their own, in this case, just slowing it down, beefing up the guitar, make it more haunting and BOOM; you got it! While I wouldn’t recommend this as the first album you listen to if you’re not into the heavier side of things, I think this is a great album to experience and maybe even appreciate the most from the band.
And there you have it folks. 8 albums from 1997 through 2013 that showcased to the world what Love Metal is all about. Some bands have tried to duplicate it, it only comes off as imitating it poorly. HIM is that band where some feel embarrassed to like or feel like it’s a guilty please. I for one, am not ashamed to say I love so much of HIM’s catalog and I do not believe in guilty pleasures (if you like something, embrace it). While the band is gone, take the time to revisit the band and see what they were like. Heck, even take the Spotify playlist down below, light some black candles, and have a dark, lustful Valentine’s Day.
Till next time, this is That Drummer Guy saying, SEE YA!
- Josh Rundquist (That Drummer Guy)