Album Review: HIM – Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice

February 8, 2010
By

HIM - Screamworks: Love in Theory and PracticeTitle: Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice
Artist: HIM
Label: Sire / Warner Bros.
Released: 9 February 2010
In one word: Limp

I once drove a roundtrip of over 800 miles in one day from North Scotland to the Lake District in England just so that I could have lunch with a girl I was particularly fond of. We ate sandwiches and hung around listening to Love Metal by HIM, then, after not much more than an hour, I drove home to be ready for work the next day. That was a hopelessly romantic escapade between two afflicted young souls with undeveloped ideas of love and pain, and of course, HIM provided the soundtrack to it all.

Fast forward six years and I’ve long since left behind that mercifully-oh-so-brief new goth influenced period of my life: gone are the HIM records, along with the New Rock boots and Tripp bondage pants that they came with. I’m probably the same hopeless romantic but I’ve moved on in so many other ways that when I come to listen to HIM’s seventh studio album, Screamworks: Love In Theory And Practice, I’m reminded of why I became so disillusioned with their music and all that came with it.

The truth is that HIM’s seventh album is just like any of their other albums. All the familiar cues are here: love, death, pain, loneliness, broken hearts, et al. It doesn’t even seem like HIM are trying any more; as I listen to the songs on Screamworks it just sounds lazy, and for the lyrics it’s almost as if Ville Valo just wrote down a bunch of keywords on bits of paper then got his band mates to pull them out of a hat. Valo’s whining has become tiresome and from a lyrical viewpoint it seems like he is standing in the same spot; HIM have built a career off of his crooning about open wounds and shattered hearts, but really you’d hope he might have reached some kind of epiphany by now, or at the very least realised that everybody hurts.

The music is the same HIM you’ve heard before, only sounding more neutral and Americanized than ever. Rather than progressing, their latest offering is the blandest to date – nothing on this record comes close to matching the biggest songs from their earlier, better records, (anything up to Dark Light). It’s a limp offering, and snippets of synth-pop and a bit of nice squealing metal guitar do little to raise the game. By the time I reach the final track “The Foreboding Sense of Impending Happiness” I can’t help but chuckle at the shameless borrowing of the synth tone from Berlin’s “Take My Breath Away”. HIM really have run out of ideas.

© Brian Banks, Music Vice

Brian Banks

Editor and Founder, Music Vice Magazine. Writer. Photographer. Poet. From Scotland. Not Ireland. Proudly based in Toronto, Canada. Rock N' Roll Don't Pay The Rent... 

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11 Responses to Album Review: HIM – Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice

  1. Teagan Rainford on February 8, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    I can understand what you mean with the neutral Americanized feeling of this album, which heavily mimics Dark light. Although I do believe that with Venus Doom they did find the new sound that will be needed to carry them through the next few years.

    But lets keep in mind that HIM will always have their familiar cues of love, death, pain etc, as people will always feel these things, even if our generation has outgrown it.

  2. scott on February 9, 2010 at 9:20 am

    People complain if a band changes,people complain if they stay the same,people just complain period..

  3. Lalala on February 9, 2010 at 9:41 am

    “It doesn’t even seem like HIM are trying any more…”
    What? I’m sorry, I just can’t grasp that. I get the impression that they’ve worked really hard on this album, just like they have on all their former albums.

    And no matter how much you twist and turn it, HIM will always be HIM. This just shows another side of the band, again, just like all their former albums do.

  4. Neil Lewis on February 9, 2010 at 10:21 am

    I think it is fair criticism to expect more artistic development from a 7th album. The biggest change HIM made is to become so American..Remind me, I thought they came from Finland??

  5. Dave P. on February 9, 2010 at 1:21 pm

    Yeah, they’ve worked hard, all right – on trying to be successful. Like Lacuna Coil’s latest albums, the creative goth-appeal is gone, in favor of a bland, American metal sound that they hope might appeal to 14-year old girls. They are now sort of the Nickelback of the goth scene! Nothing matches the first two albums, particularly Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666. Really too bad.

  6. Craig Wilson on February 9, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    I agree with Lalala…

    I’ll admit, I was skeptical of this album, being the only good song I heard was the single “Heartkiller”. As I listened to it more so however, I learned that they are just trying to get new fans hooked on their music and to experiment with a different sound than before. Yes the familiar cues are there indeed but with a different feel and outlook, as this is the first album Ville has done sober:

    31.12.2009

    HIM frontman Ville Valo recently spoke to Billboard.com about the band’s forthcoming album, Screamworks. An excerpt from the chat is available below.

    “This is the first album I wrote fully sober, and I wanted to put all the energy I used to put into hanging out in pubs into working on the music. So it was pretty insane, working 18-hour days for the past year, year and a half. We really went for all those details and didn’t leave any stone unturned. Hopefully it shows.”

    There said that reflects how it sounds in comparison to past works. I don’t think they ever were unsuccessful in any of their other albums before this, otherwise they wouldn’t have the fanbase they have now. They are reinforcing the fact that they still have the edge they had back in 1997 [Greatest Lovesongs, Vol. 666] if not more so.
    And yes, they are from Helsinki, Finland. 😛

  7. Andy on February 10, 2010 at 1:09 am

    I don’t understand why HIM is always attacked for having similar themes in lyrics. There are SO many bands that sing about love all of the time. Venus Doom was extremely unique and yes, this album is great too. Scott was 100% right. Bands can either stay the same or change and guess what? People will be pissed about either choice. However, one knows NOTHING about music if they cannot recognize that besides lyrics, HIM is one band where every record is substantially different from the last.

  8. Reg on February 16, 2010 at 5:06 pm

    HIM have become totally Hot Topic…

  9. Jordynne on February 20, 2010 at 10:42 am

    I agree with the article when I heard the song Heartkiller I just knew that it was going to be crap. I had the CD pre-ordered tho and when I listened to the first song and how it starts its just so lame what about the amaizing guitar rifts from Buried Alive By Love? or have they Buried their talents of song writing?
    I grew up with H.I.M. first Hearing them when Razorblade Romance first came out and it’s upsetting to see that a band so special to me has just become so…. American since Dark Light. I know bands and music change over the years but they are just playing for the 14 to 15 year olds now. Also they have decided they are too good to play Glasgow.

  10. Raphael Tremblay on February 23, 2010 at 10:24 am

    MMMM…i’m agree with some people about the fact that HIM has become..AMERICANIZED or maybe i should say : MORE COMMERCIAL. But i’m not agree with the fact that they don’t reinvent themself in their album : In my not so humble opinion, Dark light was the more commercial album of HIM, but he was still good ! On the other side, Venus Doom was so dark and so innovative with a lack presence of keyboards…and then Screamworks came out ! Screamworks actually need many listen to enjoy it, but it’s not the greatest album of HIM. It’s still commercial, but with a new pop genre and all short songs : about 3 min all ! HIM is always there…and HIM is HIM

  11. Katy on May 5, 2010 at 2:05 am

    I don’t get why everyone thinks HIM is commercial now….or that Dark Light was commercial. How many times have you heard them on the radio anyway? I only heard Wings of a Butterfly and Heartkiller MAYBE a handful of times. Yeah, some of their stuff is poppy and some isnt. Their next album will be different again. Thats the great thing about bands….they make you want more. After I listened to the new album a few times I REALLY got into it. The more listens the better in my opinion.

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