In 1997 HIM’s first album “Razorblade Romance” would hit that stands, and they would become a success in their home country of Finland, other Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Sweden, Norway, for those of you who don’t know your European geography), somewhat in England, and they are HUGE in Germany.
The title of the album says it all, “Razorblade Romance.” This was one of those albums for me that when I put it into my CD player and began playing the album I sat down and did nothing but simply absorb the music. I sat there deeply thinking about the lyrics and studying the album art. Nothing on my mind at all except analyzing the songs and how they blended together in a haunting and almost epic symphony. It was probably the first album of modern music that grabbed me so since my high school days and my love of ‘The Tea Party’.
Let me be blunt for a minute and simply point out the overall message of “Razorblade Romance.” Well what do you think of when you hear the term ‘razorblade?’ Maybe I’m warped but one of the first things I think of is suicide via slitting of the wrist. I am not wrong in my interpretation in this example, suicide and romance, love and death, are the prevailing themes of this album and pretty much all of HIM’s work.
Basically HIM is by far the best Goth metal group ever, and that may not be saying much. I think my darker side, which has a tendency to come up now and then, was just waiting for a group to be as enthralled with romance and death, as much as I am. However I did not discover HIM through a moment pessimistic brooding, no, I heard two of their tracks by chance through the Internet and quite enjoyed them. Upon further investigation I was surprised to find out just how extremely and often lamely over the top the group really was, and it took time for me to get used to songs of such nature. I mean come on, one song is titled “Join me (in death)”, that is way, way, too over the top. However once you get used to the corniness of it all and begin to enjoy the excellent keyboard among other things you begin to realize, “shit these guys are really into this.” There is an awful lot of conviction in the voice of Vilo Valo, and there is something being said about how horrible a tragedy has taken place when the final solution to any meager form of happiness is to ‘let death bless me, with you.’
By this point in the ramble that is July 2007’s music in review I suspect I have lost about half of you. HIM is way too Goth, way too weird, and clearly suffering from something of a second language barrier to alienate at least half of you. Nonetheless bear with me for a few more paragraphs.
The first song I ever heard, and probably HIM’s best, was “Right Here in My Arms.” This is in my mind beyond a shadow of a doubt HIM’s biggest ‘pop’ song. It a simple hard rock song that is more or less a love song, admittedly many might consider the song too aggressive and subtly too dark to really be a love song, but that is what it is. The song is completely non-offensive in any way, is really catchy, and is really, really a rocking song. It is one of those songs I can hardly imagine anyone not enjoying; it is very universal and enjoyable no matter what your taste is.
If you had never heard of HIM, never seen them, and heard “Right Here in My Arms” would you realize they are a Goth metal group? I doubt it.
HIM is one of the few bands these days I truly enjoy, and they were one of the first groups to give me faith in the future of the music industry when I was completely begining to doubt any real progress for the recent decade. I suspect most of you will not enjoy HIM on the same level as me, but I’m willing to bet “Right Here in My Arms”, will be enjoyed by pretty much everyone. It really is simply a great song.
Until next month, keep on rocking in the free world.
- Colin Kelly