Already in the run-up to this review of HIM`s newest opus "Screamworks: Love In Theory And Practice" I knew that I won`t make me very popular with the band´s fans but someone has to do it and I know their activities quite well from my younger days when HIM used to be my absolutely favourite band. Why I knew already in the run-up that this review won`t be a hymn of praise? Quite simply: Because after their first three, four great studio albums they have, with "Dark Light" and "Venus Doom", struck a path you can describe with only two words - "Play safe". HIM have their own, distinctive style, like a recipe, and at least since "Dark Light" they cook with this recipe in their kitchen consistently. No experiments. Not at all. "Play safe". That works especially in America and it`s not a secret how much HIM have desired to be successful over there. I honestly think they fully deserve it but I doubt that the Americans are really so simple-minded that they will have the same dish again and again and again.
Ok, let`s turn to the contents. "In Venere Veritas" is the name of the opener and nothing special comes into my mind about this `cause this is exactly what I meant with the “always-the-same-recipe” comment. I wish I could say the same about "Scared To Death" `cause that would be something neutral at least. But here I have to ask: "What the f***!?!" It`s pointless singsong not even I expected to hear! It continues with "Heartkiller", the well-known first single. After "Scared To Death" "Heartkiller" almost sounds cool but if you look at it objectively also "Heartkiller" is not really innovative.
While listening to the next two songs I have already forgotten how they sound before they were even over. Everything just plods along... I am at a loss for words! A pleasant surprise is "Love, The Hardest Way". You can hear guitars. They could be louder but in this moment it`s already a balm for the soul to hear some riffs.
"Katherine Wheel" sounds ok in the beginning. You can hear some drums... *grin* The permanent crooning of singer Ville Valo like "Baby, I´m burning for you" gets on your nerves before the song finally has found its end.
The title "Best song of the album" will go quite sure to "Ode To Solitude". After almost falling asleep while listening to "In The Arms Of Rain" you suddenly hear some instruments and something like dynamics. "Shatter Me With Hope" is in comparison to the other songs on the album not that bad. Also here you can hear some guitars. "Acoustic Funeral (For Love In Limbo)" is quite evil `cause it`s deadly boring. With "Like St. Valentine" things suddenly become rockier. And those who start to think now that the writer of these lines only likes faster rock songs anyway is wrong `cause for the final ballad "The Foreboding Sense Of Impending Happiness" even I bow down. A nice ballad without the otherwise so present elements sigh, corniness and languor ... They still can do it!
Yes, they still can do it. They can rock and the can touch with ballads. If they really do that is unfortunately another story. It`s not exactly the "Play safe" attitude I reproach them with. Their songs are as slippery as an eel - it`s hard to find that individual style which made them once so popular. Nowadays HIM are Radio Pop Rock at its best and it`s not only the case in their home country Finland. It`s quite a pity `cause this truly talented band simply underachieved. I don`t expect albums like "Greatest Lovesongs Vol.666" or "Razorblade Romance" anymore. I already gave up this hope many years ago. But it seems that the lousy reviews for "Deep Shadows & Brilliant Highlights" weighed too heavily on the guys from Helsinki `cause after that it was totally over with musical experiments. And that is the point that sets them apart from their fellow countrymen and colleagues like The 69 Eyes: Maybe not every album of the Eyes has been an absolute milestone but at least they try out something new from time to time so their fans won´t get bored. HIM are exactly doing this: They bore their fans and they do it so much that you start to listen to bands you called a cheap imitation of HIM while the original had their heyday. I just say "Lacrimas Profundere".
"Love" here, "Death" there... Not to forget all the "Loneliness"... And all the "Babes" and "Babies"... How many times do you want to repeat that!?! And is this now an album for the boys or an album for the girls? I don`t know. I have lost track of this. But maybe it`s not that important, or is it?
I still feel sympathy for the band itself, I am still indescribably grateful for the good old times and there are still some musical aspects on this record which are quite ok so, in the end, I can give "Screamworks" one and a half points but just barely. More is absolutely not possible this time. Even your favourite food gets boring if it`s served everyday.