There is so much heart on „Tears On Tape„, HIM’s new record, out 29th of April 2013, that if you connected the CD to a life-monitoring device, it would most definitely register beats. The compositional structure of the songs is, in itself, a blueprint in motion, mimicking the sonic „peaks” of man’s most breakable organ. Big, massive, distortion driven beginnings make way for tender interludes, which, in turn, climb or sink into huge choruses, followed by sheer metal bridges, and, en fin, dramatic endings.
For the first time since „Venus Doom”, most of the songs on the record have a clear, metal construction. The guitar is the master, with its varying sounds and feelings, from heavenly melodic, to infernally filthy, complimented by the drums, which have never been stronger than on „TOT”. The bass lines are in fascinating harmony with the guitars, and bring their share of dirtiness to the sonic landscape. As for the keyboards, which have always been crucial to HIM, they veer toward the esthetic of the dark lullaby, played eerily in a deserted castle.
There is also a very strong classical element present in the compositions. Lyrically, „Tears On Tape” is one of the most honest records HIM has ever done. Gone are the days when the meaning of the words was veiled in endless metaphors, like on „Screamworks: Love In Theory and Practice”. On this album, things are pretty clear. We’re desperately searching for something which might not exist outside our hearts & heads, and we’ve already sacrificed everything for that illusion. Love is a chimera, but „love is the law”, as Aleister Crowley said.
Regarding the vocals, there is great improvement in that Ville Valo finally accepted the fact that he is not a screamer and that he should just do what he knows best: sing out of all of his heart, with that sensual baritone of his.
Production-wise, the intent of the band, this time around, was to create a dirtier, sloppier, more metal album, with highly-concentrated, inexpugnable sound-walls and massive sounding guitars.
For the first time in its career, the band included four instrumental pieces, which can act either like breaks, portals or riddles, depending on the taste of the listener, and on his imagination. The record begins with a vintage astro-synth tune inspired by Depeche Mode, Vangelis and a bit of Kraftwerk. The image evoked by „Unleash the Red” is that of an unknown God drawing strange stars, or maybe letters of the Malachim alphabet, on a very dark sky.
Enter „All Lips Go Blue” which breaks the reverie with its powerful beginning. „Love Without Tears” speaks about the chimerical nature of a love devoid of pain, while „I Will be the End of You” has as a main-character that very love, spewing venom through a fast and dark, riff-ridden tune.
„Tears On Tape” is the only true ballad on the record, which is rather surprising for a band like HIM. However, it is vast, touching and tender enough, with its reverse-waltz structure, to compensate for the lack of other classic Infernal Majesty writs-slashers.
„Into the Night” has the sloppiest, dirtiest, punk-rock-ish beginning, only to convert into a melodic metal-slager along the way. „Hearts At War” will definitely wet your panties, because it contains some extremely sensual vocal work, and some darkly lascivious guitars.
„Trapped In Autumn” is yet another instrumental piece which resembles a background song played in a satanic horror movie about the Garden of Eden after its abandonment. „No Love” contains the very seed of „Tears On Tape”‘s lyrical message and can be seen as an eye-opener.
„Drawn & Quartered”, a progressive song which picks up where „Katherine Wheel” left, metaphor-wise, comparing love to another famous torture method, is the most interesting tune on the record. Light, enveloping, with a mathematically precise rhythm, and a very tender melody, it is definitely a HIM classic.
„Lucifer’s Chorale”, the third interlude, is basically about Ville Valo and Co. going to hell and recording the opening of its gates. „WLSTD”, one of the most metal songs ever done by HIM, is a doomy hymn, influenced by the likes of Black Sabbath and Type 0 Negative. „Kiss The Void” offers a familiar, psychedelic outro, which safely leads us out of the dark universe in which we willingly submerged for some time.
„Tears On Tape” is HIM’s most mature album and it has the merit of not falling into the category of „compilation records”. It has an identity of its own without being a slave to the past. The word which best describes „TOT” is „beautiful”, simply because rarely does one encounter such sensitive, melodically rich compositions on a rock/metal album.
HIM, one of the most misunderstood bands in the contemporary world of heavy music, has found its path and it is one that eludes the understanding of many. However, there is a magic in their music that will always raise them above the „grain” – the magic of pure melody. „Tears On Tape” is HIM’s darkly enlightening destination point after the troubling „journey to the end of the night” – to quote Louis Ferdinand Celine – to which they unwillingly succumbed three years ago.
Our mark is 10 out of 10.
1. Unleash the Red
2. All Lips Go Blue
3. Love Without Tears
4. I Will Be the End of You
5. Tears on Tape
6. Into the Night
7. Hearts at War
8. Trapped in Autumn
9. No Love
10. Drawan & Quartered
11. Lucifer’s Chorale
13. Kiss the Void