With perhaps what is the most charismatically recognisable frontman in recent memory (not to mention their perceptible ‘Heartagram’ logo), it’s certainly fair to say that HIM‘s distinctive image has served them well throughout their sixteen year career, an ever growing legion of fans drawn by the band’s morose romanticism. Couple this with a sound that’s seeped in doom and gloom pathos and metallic bluster and the formula, such as it remains in eighth full-length ‘Tears On Tape’, delivers a ruthless charm which is nigh on irresistible.
Taking a step back towards the flavour of 2003’s career pinnacle, ‘Love Metal’, the tracks here retain all the sultry macabre aesthetic we could hope for, yet with some delightfully biting riffs never far behind. Opener ‘All Lips Go Blue’ onsets with some rolling Sabbath-isms and hazy melodies, ‘W.L.S.T.D.’ is a thunderous union of injurious stomp and doleful keyboards (a not unwelcome whiff of Type O Negative permeating throughout) and ‘Into The Night’‘s gently soaring chorus hook is writhingly infectious.
Indeed, what sees ‘Tears On Tape’ become a triumph is a masterfully deft light and shade. For every ‘Hearts At War’ with its driving tunefulness, we have a ‘Lucifer’s Chorale’, a instrumental piece which hits hard with a formidably cavernous rumbling. Taking this balance to extremes the band have perhaps not previously ventured, there’s an undeniable engagement here which is born not just of proficient songwriting, but also of a unfettered dynamism.
‘Tears On Tape’ is sure to be received rabidly by long time fans. Richly melodic and dishevelledly sullen, the record offers up a glut of trademark HIM numbers which rival the band’s most in form material. With a couple of interesting curve balls scattered here and there, we perhaps also have a glimpse of what is to come from the Finnish quintet yields yet more intrigue from a band who look to have clawed back to the top of their game.
Written by Tony Bliss