HIM - 'XX - Two Decades Of Love Metal' Hot

Added by Central Electronic Brain     February 04, 2013    
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A two decade retrospective featuring  twenty songs.

HIM have always been a strange brew and hard to pigeonhole and that suits half Finnish half Hungarian Ville Valo down to the ground: an individual who has been treated for alcohol addiction as well as dealing with troubled relationships and alleged self harming episodes. Quoted as saying that life as a musician is a very Dali-esque experience he’s a white boy dancing badly on the razors edge. Choked on the surrealism of real life it’s a very ‘Alice In Wonderland’ experience for him. 

What is remarkable is the core of the band; Guitarist Mikko Lindstrom and bassist Mikko Paananen have been with Ville since its inception in 1991 save for a brief hiatus for Paanenen, with drummer Mika Karppinen and keyboardist Janne Puurtinen having been with the band for more than eleven years! This certainly says something about the harmony within the group. Described by Ville as ‘Love Metal’ that’s as good a description as any as lying somewhere between Sabbath and Depeche Mode (they’ve covered songs by both bands) with pop sensibilities meshing with Scandinavian melancholia. (Check out ‘The Kiss Of Dawn’ for the schizophrenic nature of Valo’s compositions)

This two decade retrospective features, natch, twenty songs and to go with the schizophrenic theme they’re not in chronological order plus some rather obvious tracks haven’t been included either. Of the seven singles not included are the popular ‘Solitary Man’ (a Neil Diamond cover) and ‘And Love Said No’ (one of their more well known songs here in the UK) although they were the two new tracks at the time of their release on the Greatest Hits package The one new song on the album (a Kevin Grivois cover) and latest single in the process, is lead-off track ‘Strange World’, a more mainstream and accessible rocker that powers along on a hard driving riff and solid kick-back drumming with Valo’s familiar breathy baritone and whiney nuances adding a catchiness to the chorus. The first three retrospective tracks are the gorgeous ‘Join Me In Death’ with its delicate piano refrain from second album 2000’s ‘Razorblade Romance’ followed by the rocking ‘Heartkiller’ from 2010’s seventh release ‘Screamworks’ (a top 30 US charting single) before we get the classic ‘Wings Of A Butterfly’ from 2005’s fifth release ‘Dark Light’ – a memorable catchy-as-hell Cult-esque rocker that drives along on a melodic guitar refrain and a US top 20 single to boot. I’m not sure whose decision it was (for the running order) but it keeps things interesting never-the-less. The classic and live favourite plus Finnish #1 ‘Funeral Of Hearts’ with its melancholic warblings nestles at number six on the track listing and the cover of Chris Isaak’s ‘Wicked Game’ can be found at number thirteen.

If you’re already a fan of HIM then you’ve already got these songs so it’ll be one for completists, but if you’re unfamiliar or just curious but never got round to checking them out then this is a good place to start.

Carl Buxton

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