HIM – Dark Light

When I heard about the new HIM album back in July or whenever it was announced, I was marginally excited. Being the fan of HIM that I am, I probably should have been more excited, but all it got from me was a lackluster “Wooh” and a light air-punch. You know what I mean. If not, diagram. What can I say? I like drawing diagrams.

Fortunately, as time passed and live versions of a couple new songs from the album became available to download, my excitement rose exponentially. The two songs, “Vampire Heart” and “Killing Loneliness” were awesome. Though “Killing Loneliness” was cut short due to bass troubles, I listened to the songs many, many times. My Last.fm page might have you believe differently, but trust me, those songs were played almost too many times between when I got them and when the CD came out. And that’s pretty much where we are now. Dark Light was released on September 27, and now that I’ve had a week (and about 40 plays) to let it sink in, I think I’m ready to give it a great big review. Of course the review won’t really be that big, it is a mini-review after all.

We last heard from HIM when they released their greatest hits CD, entitled And Love Said No. Featuring two original songs and 15 other great songs, it’s been my favourite up until now (though most fans would disagree and say Love Metal is the best), but Dark Light has come and made me question that preference. There’s something wrong with that sentence, but I just can’t point it out.

All you really need to know is that Dark Light rocks. I’ll go as far as to say it’s got a bit more pop influence than what HIM’s exhibited up until now, but that’s not at all saying that they’ve changed. There’s no selling out here, we’re still talking full metal assault on your eardrums, it’s just that most of the songs seem more upbeat and whatnot than usual. And it’s not necessarily a bad thing either.

The album kicks off with “Vampire Heart”, and while it’s a great song all around, the album version is slightly less kickass than the live version. A little shake-up, but it was expected. Then we get what they’re touting as their new single, “Rip Out the Wings of a Butterfly”, or just “Wings of a Butterfly” for short. This is where that pop thing I mentioned factors in. It’s a great song, but I do have a complaint. See, the song is almost entirely chorus. There are only two verses, and they’re very short. Normally no big, but it makes the song seem kind of short and half-assed. That aside, it’s awesome. Awesome in its most aural form. After that comes along my new favourite song “Under the Rose”. While a couple other bands have songs with remarkably similar titles (read: exact same), this is not another cover. It’s got the catchiest chorus I’ve heard is some time, a really sweet guitar solo, and the rest of the song isn’t bad either. Plus it gives me an excuse to use a flower as my MSN Messenger avatar. Don’t make any assumptions. The last of the fearsome foursome that headline this album is “Killing Loneliness”. This one I actually prefer to the live version. Can’t think of anything else to say about it.

Now, it’s kind of weird, but as far as I care to say, the title track is the weakest on the disc. It’s not that “Dark Light” is a bad song, it just doesn’t stack up so well to the four kickass songs that preceded it. “Behind the Crimson Door” is average enough, and is more or less forgettable. Mind you, that even though I say that – and I’ll probably say it again before the review is done – none of the songs on the CD are bad. They’re all pretty good, some just don’t stand out as much as others. “The Face of God” is another one I really like. It’s got a really subdued maraca (I think?) part during the first half of the chorus that always catches my ear, even though you’d normally have to listen for it specifically to even notice it. “Drunk on Shadows”, unfortunately, failed to make me care much for it.

At first, I was apathetic towards the second-to-last track, “Play Dead”, but one day it just kind of popped into my head and after really listening to it, I’ve come to truly appreciate it. I’ve always liked slower songs, and “Play Dead” is great in every respect. Also, there’s some really beautiful piano work towards the end, which is always a good thing. The last song is another slower one (well, maybe not that slow), a popular way to end a CD. But aside from the correct placement, “The Nightside of Eden” is another weak song. Forget what I said about “Dark Light” being the weakest, this one just doesn’t strike me as good enough. I just don’t really like it that much.

I’m having a really tough time deciding just where I should rank Dark Light against the rest of HIM’s work. On one hand, most of the CD just plain kicks your ass, but there are a few songs that are barely worth mentioning. Very similar to the debut album Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666. Though I didn’t like the good songs on that one nearly as much as I do the ones on the newest offering. I suppose that with the aid of “Under the Rose” and “Play Dead”, I’ll have to put this one at the top of the chart.

No matter how it stacks up to it’s brethren, Dark Light is easily a keeper. If you like HIM or just rock, metal, whatever, there’s a good chance that you’ll enjoy it. It’s more than worth your $16. The front sleeve (Inside the case. It comes in an actual sleeve.) art is pretty snazzy too, so that’s a plus. A plus that makes no difference in musical worth, but it’s still a plus. Go out and buy it. All those underlines and quotation marks don’t look so good on such a large font. Website.

The Good Stuff:
  • “Under the Rose”
  • Sweet cover art
  • Maracas. Barely noticeable maracas, but maracas nonetheless.
  • Beautiful piano on “Play Dead”
  • The Bad Stuff:
  • Not as good as past releases
  • A little short
  • “The Nightside of Eden” is totally forgettable
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