Last time we left HIM…they left us on the cliff hanger with a foreboding sense of impending happiness…what did they mean? What did Valo have up his sleeve? What creative direction would they take next? The answer would surprise many…the previous release; “Screamworks: Love In Theory And Practice, Chapters 1-13” wasn’t received very well by a large portion of fans, with Valo himself even suggesting the album was a failure…so were the band done with the commercial radio-friendly approach? Would Valo brush his 80’s new wave pop influences under the carpet and pick up the guitar again? The short answer is, not quite…the band instead opted to do a LINKIN PARK and release a remix album entitled “SWRMXS” and if fans were confused before, this had them scratching their heads…
We do we even begin? One thing that can be said about HIM is, they’ve always tried to stay fresh…each and every album they’ve released has, while retaining the core HIM sound and principles, always mixed it up a little…be it in tone, or genre influence, ranging from doom metal to hard rock, to Gothic piano ballads…but if anything the last album proved that heading down a commercially friendly mainstream route upset fans to some extent…so was this in essence a middle finger? A fuck you? Many viewed this as a die-hard fans only release, one for the collectors and a record that had no real place in the bands discography…but how good or even bad WAS it? The eleven track mix tape opens up just like its predecessor with “In Venere Veritas” but it’s been reworked by Finnish electronic composer HUORATRON (Real name Aku Raski) and what we find is a dirty slab of EDM, dotted with broken vocal samples and distorted dub qualities…its…different. “The Foreboding Sense Of Impending Happiness” can in ways be blamed for the project as a whole given the musical approach and here its mix by American house DJ MORGAN PAGE is very much the lo-fi, chilled listen it was always meant to be, rich in ambience. Some of this material DOES work…”Love, The Hardest Way” has the pleasure of having TIËSTO at the helm and is probably the sole source of credibility here for any casual listener…his approach is simple and trance-inspired with some genuinely catchy qualities, while “Dying Song” is given similar treatment…again, lo-fi but up-beat and at least enjoyable…when they get it wrong however, my god do they get it wrong. “Heartkiller” gets absolutely butchered courtesy of a MERCYFVCKS remix…I honestly wish it had mercy and fucked off…while the oOoOO remix of “Shatter Me With Hope” could put a glass eye to sleep…brave? Very. Stupid? Debatable…one thing’s for sure; it left a sour taste in many a fans mouth and is arguably the worst thing the band ever put their name to. 
"XX: Two Decades Of Love Metal"
There would be another quiet spell following on from the Screamworks touring cycle and in ways, a period of recovery and reassessment too, on both sides to a degree…but fans got excited again in 2012 when HIM returned out of the blue with a new single; “Strange World”…another cover, this time by KÉ and another cover the band could ultimately call their own, credit to HIM, they know how to pick a cover…but excitement soon dwindled as the new song would be just that; one new song, merely to accompany another greatest hits collection…”XX: Two Decades Of Love Metal”. No more than an upgraded version of “And Love Said No”, it simply included the singles from the albums post 2004 and many fans felt disappointed. Sure the track was good, it was even more satisfying seeing the band pick up the guitars again and belting out some hard rock…but why just the one song? It turns out there was an issue with previous record labels who still owned rights to the bands back catalogue and wanted to put out a compilation…HIM literally recorded the song to shut the label up and the album was swiftly forgotten about; a brilliant cover and a solid collection of classic songs but…ultimately pointless. 
"Tears On Tape"
It wouldn’t be long however for HIM to release another full length album, spurred on by the recording process the year prior, the band had signed a new deal with RAZOR & TIE releasing “Tears On Tape” in 2013. The album wasn’t without its difficulties mind you…in fact the album very nearly didn’t happen, with the band worryingly close to calling it a day before it was even completed…an omen for things to come sadly. During the writing process, drummer Gas was suffering from nerve damage in his hands from repetitive stress and was ordered to take time out…would the album be completed? More importantly would Gas drum again and, with that, could HIM continue? Lucky after several months he returned and the album was finished…once again produced by long-time collaborator Hiili Hiilesmaa, it saw the band again return to their roots, delivering a raw, garage rock vibe full of grit and maturity. The back-to-basics approach led to Valo's vocals having a vulnerability to them, his morose poetic lyricism was showing an honest pain…tracks like “I Will Be The End Of You” and “Hearts At War”, blistering in their delivery, highlighted a suffering for love in their guitar driven frustration, while cuts like the title track and “Drawn & Quartered” tugged at the heartstrings with a strong sense of empathy…never afraid to experiment however, the album includes the band’s first and only instrumental pieces, breaking up the album allowing for a fresh listening style, before the album closes on the emotionally powerful “W.L.S.T.D.”…one of the bands heaviest, gloomiest and despairing pieces of music, coupled with one of Valo’s most impassioned vocal displays, it’s truly heart wrenching…and sadly…it was to be a fitting and poignant swan-song. 
After the record was released and the touring cycle was completed, Gas decided his time was up and left the band, leaving question marks hanging over fans worldwide. This…was to be the Finn’s final album…HIM were done. Stand-in percussionist Jukka took up the drum-kit to play for the band on live dates in the few brief years that followed, but in the March of 2017, HIM announced to the world that, they would be breaking up. The writing of new material simply wasn’t working, the spark had gone, the Heartagram was no longer beating, and the hearts of legions of fans were broken…tears were no longer on tape, they were on the cheeks of hundreds of thousands of fans worldwide as his infernal majesty relinquished his crown, kissing goodbye to us all. The band embarked on one last hurrah, a farewell tour dubbed “Bang And Whimper” (Still with a sense of humour on their way out) which led to the bands final ever performance at Helldone in Tavastia, Finland, on the 31st December 2017. After a 20+ year career…8 albums and having garnered one of the most cult-like followings in music…HIM were no more, and the world lost something truly magical. From here on out, I’d like to wish Ville, Mige, Linde, Burton and Jukka all the best in everything they set their hearts on, as we’ll always be there for them. You gave countless people hope, something to live for, something to cherish, and you'll be missed greatly, not just as a band, but by an extended family. Thank you, and farewell. Tears on tape…we will follow. <3
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Gavin J Griffiths, a.k.a GavTheGothicChav, lover of new music and supporter of bands. Inspired by a mixture of horror and comedy, and fueled by a blend of alcohol and sarcasm...if you're singer / in a band and would like a review written up, please do get in touch via the email address at the top of the page and I'll get back to you ASAP. Much love x