Historically speaking I have been following the band HIM since around 2003 which was a full six years after their debut “Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666” would hit the racks of music stores over in Europe. This brooding opus of sound is celebrating its 20th Anniversary today. Thinking back on it, I remember that first time that I heard the band and it was while at work at an incredibly boring and terrible job as I browsed around Yahoo Music. I remember that the service was superb in letting you discover new and exciting sonic things. My first song from HIM was “Join Me In Death” from the “Razordblade Romance” album from 2000 (the bands second release) but it hooked me and once I was able to find them online, I would work my way back from there and it was a musical journey that I would greatly enjoy.
As usual with these missives they are much personal recall as I can muster together and when it comes to this particular album, it was from listening some years post release. I’d like to think that had I the chance to listen to them on their initial debut that I would have enjoyed them immensely right off the bat. I was a big fan of Type O Negative and they had a brooding and solemn sound that a lot of folks called Gothic Metal and while many would come to label these Finns as the same, I felt that Dark Metal and the soon coined “Love Metal” fit more to a tee. Founder Ville Valo made the bands framework to be about the topics of love, heartbreak and even death. During this beginning stage of the band, the groups members included Valo along with guitarist Mikko Lindstrom (Linde) and Mikko Pannanen (Mige). According to research this is the only album to feature Antto Melasniemi and Juhana Rantala on keyboards and drums. Below let’s review the original track release from the album and then discuss some favorites.
2. Your Sweet Six Six Six
3. Wicked Game
4. The Heartless
5. Our Diabolical Rapture
6. It’s All Tears (Drown In This Love)
7. When Love And Death Embrace
8. The Beginning Of The End
9. (Don’t Fear) The Reaper
What’s interesting to me is the fact that on the copy of “Razorblade Romance” that I purchased as my own very first HIM CD some years later, was the fact that a number of these tunes were on that album such as “Your Sweet Six Six Six” and “Wicked Game”. With that being said, I guess if I have to pick my most immediate favorites from this release it would begin with those tracks since they followed my absolute favorite of “Join Me In Death” from the RR CD. The intro track “For You” brings you right into their brand of sound and Ville is joined by Asta Hannula who adds some ethereal backing vocals to the number. The solemn and brooding tempo of the Chris Isaak hit sold me from the second I heard it and would be a track that I played for friends when I was hoping to get them into the band. I also still love “When Love And Death Embrace” as it’s such a powerful track. With “Greatest Lovesongs Vol 666”, listeners get to hear how HIM would rework another classic tune and it’s with “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult we see just how many boundaries in the version the band is willing to take. I love it, from the use of the piano to the vocal accompaniment by singer June Hyde. In all the years that I have seen the band in concert, I don’t remember their doing this song once and that is a shame since this version rocks. It’s a terrific album closer and shows how HIM is able to make a song by someone else into their own unique offering. What are your favorites from the album? You can tell me down in the comments section below.
As I’ve often noted, the finer details about the release itself can be examined via the Official Wikipedia entry. Since that stuff is already long in place there is no need for me to rehash it. A couple of years ago, The End Records signed the band and released a wonderful box set called “Lashes To Ashes” and it featured remastered editions of their first four albums along with some treats. Expanded CD’s would accompany these and that is the one linked below for purchase from Amazon.com; I’ve embedded some visuals of my copies of this albums remastered editions for good measure – Congratulations to Ville and the rest of the guys in HIM or as the Finnish would say “Onnea!!!” on this sorrow laden epic that was for many the beginning of the journey. As I close this milestone toast with a resounding “Kippis”, I am finding myself a little bit sad as well because in two weeks, Ville and the boys shall perform live in NYC for the very last time as HIM at our Hammerstein Ballroom. It is the final night of the bands North American tour and will send them back to Europe and eventually Finland where they shall be calling it a career and disbanding. Thank you HIM. Those interested in our coverage of the band over the years might want to click on THIS LINK as it launches the tag with any reference to them that is currently online.
Official Website: http://www.heartagram.com
Official Album Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greatest_Lovesongs_Vol._666