The band that identifies itself as a “love metal” band follows its 2007 release, Venus Doom, with Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice, Chapter 1-13. In its thirteen-year career, HIM has unleashed anthem after anthem, such as “Join Me,” “Buried Alive by Love” and the American success, “Wings of a Butterfly.” The most recent album since Screamworks garnered mild success with “The Kiss of Dawn,” “Bleed Well” and “Passion’s Killing Floor,” featured on the Transformers soundtrack album. Screamworks is, as I believe each of the three albums since and including 2005’s Dark Light have been, a break from the band’s previous work, since it takes on a bit of a more uplifting and happy tone, songs such as “In Venere Veritas,” “Scared to Death” and “Katherine Wheel” acting as examples.
The album opens with the aforementioned “In Venere Vertias,” which opens the album with Ville’s hook, “Let’s fall apart together now.” Venus Doom is an album with which Ville took the opportunity to experiment with his voice, especially on the title track, and he continues to do such on this album, especially on this song, beginning the chorus of the song in a relatively high register with the word “have,” which then rapidly spirals downward into “no fear.” Something that I have always loved about HIM is that it takes risks; it loves to make use of new ideas, and that is exactly why I wholeheartedly disagree with those who have told me in the past that the band is repetitive; no two albums, especially not since and including Dark Light, sound the same.
“In Venere Veritas” works as a great way to begin the album, a lot of energy and a lot of poetic beauty, something that has echoed throughout all thirteen years and seven albums of the band’s career, beginning with 1997’s Greatest Lovesongs, Vol. 666. “Scared to Death” rings with utterly beautiful melodic beauty, while the sheer energy of “Heartkiller” makes it act perfectly as the album’s first single. Other standout tracks include the ballad “Disarm Me (with Your Loneliness),” the desperately seeking “Love, the Hardest Way,” the ridiculously catchy “Ode to Solitude” and “Acoustic Funeral (for Love in Limbo),” which despite the misleadingly dark title, is probably one of HIM’s happiest songs yet. I enjoy, however, every single song on this album. It is the first album in at least a year to which I can’t stop listening, because it is that highly addictive.
The album is definitely one of HIM’s best albums yet, which, to me, says a lot, since the band tends to release masterpiece after masterpiece. This album and 2005’s Dark Light are probably my two favorite albums to date. Something that I love about HIM is that they tend not to repeat ideas and sounds but instead consistently move forward with new and innovative ideas and sounds, and Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice, Chapter 1-13 is no exception, departing from Venus Doom, which Ville has described as a cross between Metallica and Bullet for My Valentine and instead creating a sound that he has described as “the first time [that] HIM does acknowledge that there is such a thing called happiness.” It is so different, in fact, that many HIM fans are criticizing it for that very reason, but Ville is a new man, sobered up but still making amazing music. I give the album a well-deserved five stars out of five.