Sound — 9
So what's the sound? An interesting blend of music, combine elements of Nine Inch Nails, Tool, Blister, Jonathan Davis' dark vocals (early Korn, none of that weird stuff), Sixteen Stone from Bush, the intensity of Type O Negative, style of Kiss Trend and passion of a porn star on Viagra with a Cialis chaser. If you've read any of my music reviews you know it takes something pretty mind-blowing to get me to write outside of my usual grunge/metal/'80s norm; when I wrote about CKY I started to branch out and check out some of the groups that Bam gave a thumbs up to I fully expected H.I.M. to have a harder edge (err skate rock) but was extremely pleased with what I found. It's really hard to peg the complete sound of the group because each person is going to have a different take on their style but make no mistake, there's no shortage of talent here, be it the song writing, vocals, music or general appeal of the group. Some people have compared them to Lacuna Coil, My Dying Bride and even early Danzig but again, to try and compare this group to another is edging it into a corner, possibly alienating some potential listeners.
Lyrics — 10
Oh where to start, with so many great tracks it's almost impossible for me to pick one and call it the best. If you are only going to give the group one chance, then pick Right Here In My Arms to start with. If you've seen any of the CKY home video footage, you might be a little familiar with a few of the H.I.M. songs but you can't go wring with this tracks as an introduction. The light touch of keyboard combined with the rise and fall feel of the music sets a nice stage for the song which, to me, is a little harder edged than most of the other material on Razorblade Romance. The beat is powerful and strong but it never overpowers the vocals or music. For me this is a little more rock oriented than their darker stuff but still an outstanding track. On the softer, darker side there's the slightly bizarre but ultra interesting One Last Time. This is the last track on the CD so I was reading over the lyrics before I actually got to the song and fully expected it to be deeper and darker than it was. The distorted vocals, fluffy music and recessed beat work well together but I doubt many groups could pull this type of combination off with this much style. The first time I listened to it I though of the older Spacehog and Oasis material, but that's just me, and it's only a splinter of the song that actually reminds me of these groups so don't let that scare you off if you have a dislike for Oasis or Spacehog. Heaven Tonight makes for a great introduction to the overall style of the group but take it with a grain of salt, it's just meant as a taste of what the group has to offer so if it doesn't immediately strike you, check out some of the others before you write it off as a wash. The intro doesn't do the song justice but if you get past the first few seconds, you'll get a nice slice of H.I.M. and some of the sweetest background vocals. As much as I love the music and vocals, it's the lyrics that always hit me the hardest. They are on the simple side but have deep meaning once you read them and let them sink in. Your eyes have lost their light and you're empty, oh my god you're so empty. Death Is In Love With Us might sound like it's some dark, depressing and morbid track but it's the complete opposite. Much like Right Here In My Arms, this song is harder, louder and faster than most of the other stuff you'll find on this release but it isn't without that touch of death, dark love and sinister romance that H.I.M. has become known for. Again, listening to the song is one thing but reading the lyrics and getting to the meat of it is another; there's a lot of different ways you could take this song but personally, its best not to try and pick it apart and do a line by line breakdown or you might drive yourself insane. If you are looking for something along the lines of a Type O Negative style song, then look no further than Bury Me Deep Inside Your Heart. Don't expect this to sound exactly like Type O, but it's a pretty close comparison. To me a song isn't just about the music [but if the music sucks that's a bad thing]; it's the presentation, content, lyrics, vocals and how the talent of the group is used. Not since Type O's Christian Woman did I play a song over and over as much I did this one. The music is definitely dead on but it's the emotional vocals and lyrics that led me to playing it at least ten times in a row. my heart stops beating only for you. The slight break of silence towards the end of the track is one that often trips up new listeners, resist the urge to fast track and you'll be gifted with one hell of an impressive climax. In the middle of it all, you'll find one of the groups best songs to date, I Love You. If I could be bold enough to slap a best track sticker on a song, this one would be the one leading the pack. On every single level the song f*cking smokes. What really hit me the hardest is the deep vocal chorus that's shoved in your face with the outstanding guitar work of Linde and Ville, it's something that you just need to hear to understand and yes, you can listen to the track at the website. I've been lucky enough to get my hands on several of the H.I.M. releases and a few of the singles (thanks to Chad at Import Masters) and have to say that this song, when compared to the rest of their tracks, stands out. It's one of those songs that you can listen to over and over again without it getting old or stale. Poison Girl is definitely one of my favorites for more than a few reasons; the pace of the song varies, one minute Valle is unleashing an emotional enema of sound and the next the music sweeps you up and gives you that spine tingling feeling. You know what I mean, when you hear a song for the first time and it hits you so hard that you get that shiver, that's what happened when the first time I listened to this track (thanks to Jess for recommending it). There's a nice rich blend between the guitar and vocals and the light touch of keyboards in the background gives it just the right amount of spice to make it sultry in some spots and dead on rock in others. But if it were just the music, it would be a simple assumption that the group has some talented members, it's the lyrics that will haunt you long after the song ends. If you are someone that appreciates deep lyrical content, then I have to point you in the direction of Gone With The Sin, probably one of their most morbid tracks but at the same time, most beautiful. Ville might slap me for calling one of his works beautiful, maybe haunting is a better word. This is the slowest cut on Razorblade Romance and retains the same slow, languid beat throughout the entire song. The first time I listened to this I wanted to close my eyes, lean back in my chair and block out everything around me. While some may look at the lyrics and see something that glorifies death, I see it as the last moment of love, that split second between life and death when one person dies and a part of the other goes with them. The perfect companion to Gone With The Sin is the equally impressive Resurrection; sporting a little more spunk than the aforementioned tack, it's tender at some points and forceful at others, in other words, it's a song that you just have to hear to get the meaning of it and how it connects with the other tracks on the CD.
Overall Impression — 10
Bam Margera was 100% correct when he called H.I.M. one of the best groups around and this freak gives Razorblade Romance high marks across the board. If you are into the darker side of music or are just looking for something with a little more flavor than the usual rock fodder, this is one group well worth checking out and a CD that has extremely high replay value. For more information about the group, check out their official website at www.heartagram.com. You'll be able to check out their music, read the message boards and get the latest information about concerts but if you do listen to the songs, note that the releases are not the same as the American versions of the CD's so there may be bonus tracks listed on the page that you won't find on the standard US releases.