HIM/ Tears On Tape Album Review

As a long time fan of any particular band, you’ll eventually to run into the conundrum of giving an honest review of a latest release. It’s very easy to say “I LOVED IT!”. It’s easy to make comparisons to their entire catalog and to have certain expectations of a musical piece of work based on biased opinions of favorite albums in said catalog.
Tears On Tape is no exception. Was it what I “expected”? No.

But here’s the fundamental reason why I think I am such a die hard HIM fan: They surprise me.
Just when I think I have a beat on their direction…they shift and give me something I didn’t expect at all. I don’t think Tears On Tape is as lushly poetic as Screamworks: Love In Theory And Practice, nor are Valo’s vocals as powerful, clear and concise as they were on that album or previous releases for that matter. I don’t think Tears On Tape is as personal and brilliant as Venus Doom either. Through great pain comes great art and in my opinion,Venus Doom may very well be HIM’s opus for their entire career. That remains to be seen.

I don’t think the album is necessarily blatantly borrowing from previous albums, but that HIM is doing exactly what they do best and they simply got together, jammed and made us all some new music to chew on when they were able to do so and the moment grabbed them. I think that for a twenty year career, HIM has finally broken themselves in like a gigged out pair of Chucks and aren’t trying to live up to expectations or critics or even what their fans want. They just simply want to make music and if it sounds like something you’ve heard before, it’s because you have. It’s HIM and they are always going to sound like HIM to a degree. They have to grow, have to mature, have to experiment in order to endure as artists, but their fundamental sound will always be there. If you keep wanting them to spit out another Razorblade Romance, just ask Ville Valo what he thinks about that and let the eye rolling commence.

For a while now, I’ve been struggling with how to write this review from my heart and well, here it goes.
I wanted Tears On Tape to have the heavy guitars of Venus Doom and the poetry of Screamworks, but what happened was sort of an album of sentiment rather than technical awesomeness for me. The lyrics are much more simplified and repeated than before. Ville Valo’s usual “wimpy” lyrics and “weepy” vocals are omnipresent and it almost seems a lazy attempt at lyric writing when you get down to it. If you composed a drinking game where you had to take a shot of Jack every time Valo said the word WEEP, you’d be drunk by the end of the first proper track. That being said…this is NOT a bad review, but a review of feeling. Read on before you rip me to shreds.

After driving home in a thunderstorm with a friend in the wee hours of the morning and blasting the track Into The Night (on Tears On Tape) things were put into perspective. It made me FEEL good. I was singing at the top of my lungs driving “into the night with scars wide open” as the lyrics of the song propel you to do. I stopped over-analyzing the lyrics and riffs and stopped comparing this song to that album and so on….I just listened…LOUDLY and I was happy. For that moment, it was enough. All the worries in my head didn’t matter anymore and I was simply in the moment and the moment was SO SIMPLE I failed to see it before. What is Tears On Tape about? What does it all mean? It’s pretty simple really. It’s a feeling, a moment, a heartbeat and tears wept. That’s what it’s about. Music for music’s sake…just to bleed it out before it consumes you. I was going to do a track blow by blow review of the album until I decided it was futile and that I simply didn’t care about the debate that would ensue. Once I took my critic goggles off and had that moment for myself on a lonely road during a storm it was all crystal clear. Well played guys.

Tears On Tape may not be the best album they have produced to date, but it is quintessentially HIM and they are still a band to be reckoned with and when many others have come and gone, HIM will still be making music…with arms wide open. Now available all over the world online or in stores, BUY it and decide for yourself. For me, Tears On Tape is currently in my heavy rotation. Thumbs UP!

HIM is currently on the label Razor & Tie in the USA. Tears On Tape is HIM’s 8th studio release. Produced and Engineered by Hiili Hilesmaa. Mixed by Tim Palmer at Assault and Battery Studios.

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