Razorblade Romance (Jimmy Franks/Universal)
by Scott Hefflon
I’m a sucker for Goth metal, and I woulda loved HIM had I not already heard Entwine and made them a part of my dark, quiet moments. Not that there’s not room in The Dark Places for more than one brooding, beautifully sad rock band that plods metal guitars like the slow beating of your heavy heart, whose vocals mourn and lament, crack with emotion, and often skip into delicate falsetto (like when your voice sounds kinda whimpering, thin, and squeaky when yer trying to express yourself when “emotionally overwhelmed.” Ahem, crying, in other words), but HIM is kinda, ya know, obvious. Are they bad? Hell no, they’re a great listen. But the singer over-emotes a lot (Goth? Overdoing the drama? Gee, ya think?), and the choruses are often so repetitive, I have to switch to the next song cuz I get it, I freakin’ get it already! Sure, having “I’m fucked, I’m fucked, what am I gonna do?” run through your head like a broken fuckin’ record is the mood for this music, but that doesn’t mean some lame chorus oughtta match it, round for round, like a suicidal “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” singalong.
At least half the songs on Razorblade Romance are the basic outline for glorious sad rock (or “love metal,” as the band likes to call it). But, as I said, Entwine are far more creative and less, ya know, obvious (but still melodic and catchy), and Poisonblack (a side project of Sentenced’s Ville Laihiala) nails the 4/4 stripper ass-shake better, so HIM, to me, is just another example of a pretty decent band getting the big push while better bands sell for shit in the States. When even “die-hard fans” of the genre are too lazy to seek out and support the best the underground has to offer, we’re bound to get the Creeds of rock, the Good Charlottes of punk, etc.
The icing on this Angel Food cake (pure fluff, but tasty and pretty to look at) is HIM’s cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game.” The song’s (amped-up) mini-skirt twirl and tendency to slip into falsetto fit HIM like an elbow-length black glove.