Sound — 10
Dark Light was Finnish Alternative Metal band HIM's fifth full length album. This album was released on September 26, 2005 internationally and on September 27, 2005 in the USA with a limited edition pre-release of 20, 000 some days before. This limited edition came in a tin case with a 24 page booklet with hand written lyrics by the bands lead singer, Ville Valo, a certificate of authenticity and a key chain flash light that flashes the bands infamous Heartagram. It debuted in stores, however, with a glossy black plastic wrap covering the front, so in order to see the real cover you needed to purchase it. This album was originally supposed to be produced and mixed by Andy Wallace, an accomplished Americas producer, but vocalist Ville Valo said he made HIM sound too 'American' and they fired him, hiring Tim Palmer with whom they had worked before on Love Metal and And Love Said No. The first single released from the album is "Wings of a Butterfly."
Lyrics — 10
Dark Light switches back forth between the hard (albeit melodic) rock sounds of Wings Of A Butterfly, and fellow stand-out tracks Face Of God and Vampire Heart, to an occasionally softer sound that demonstrates why at least 50% of the band's following is female. The albums strength lies in the former. Vampire Heart, the album opener, is a fantastic melodic mash of metal, while Behind The Crimson Door and The Face Of God proved the same type of thrills and enhance the gothic imagery. Ville Valo's smooth-as-silk voice is impeccably timed with the chords and song hooks. This is a band that has mastered the art of the gothic metal ballad.
Overall Impression — 10
Despite sales of 3 million, their huge cult following and being one of Europe's most popular bands, most of HIM's mainstream commercial success has been courtesy of Bam Margera's slightly worrying obsession with lead singer Ville Valo. With their new album, Dark Light, HIM are trying to take the success of 2003's 'Love Metal' and break through to the mainstream. If you've listened to HIM before, you'll be familiar with Valo's distinctively smooth and eerie vocals and the bands melodic brand of love metal. Dark Light opens with 'Vampire Heart'. With its 80s synth-pop intro, it's slightly different to what you would expect from this album; perhaps an indication as to the market that this album is targeting. 'Rip Out The Wings Of A Butterfly' is a catchy, radio-friendly track with a sing-along chorus, making it perfect for the first single to be released from this album. Admittedly, the lyrical content doesn't seem to make much sense, irrespective of how much emotion is poured into them; I'm not sure how ripping the wings off a butterfly helps your soul, and I can't make out much of a metaphor here, but it will stick in your head nonetheless. The essence of HIM's music is the beautifully written romantic lyrics, sung by Valo in his trademark dark and sullen voice. Without listening to the lyrics, you might as well not bother listening to the album-it will be meaningless. There are a number of stand out tracks on the album, with the gut-wrenching lyrics of 'Killing Loneliness' and 'Behind The Crimson Door' as well as the previously mentioned 'Rip Out The Wings Of A Butterfly'. Unfortunately, accompanying the good, is the bad. With the cheesy 'Dark Light' you can't help but think that you're listening to a collaboration with Keane on a Christmas single, with its chiming enhanced chorus. To make matters worse, just as you think it's about to end, there is a Eurovision-esque key change to ensure that you're fully aware of how painful this song is. Perhaps Terry Wogan will be introducing this as Finland's entry next year. Dark Light is nothing new for HIM, except you get the feeling that they have tried too hard with this album to appeal to the masses, as opposed to increasing their cult fan base. As a result, at times, this album appears to be to too 'pop' and over-produced. Dark Light isn't going to cause a huge stir, but will undoubtedly please those Heartogram hoody clad mini-moshers and enable Ville to retain his status as Kerrang poster book favourite.