Screamworks: Love In Theory And Practice review by HIM

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  • Released: Feb 8, 2010
  • Sound: 6
  • Lyrics: 9
  • Overall Impression: 7
  • Reviewer's score: 7.3 Good
  • Users' score: 8.7 (140 votes)
HIM: Screamworks: Love In Theory And Practice
1

Sound — 6
Intriguing as HIM frontman Ville Valo's appearance and demeanor might be, the music on his band's seventh studio album Screamworks: Love In Theory and Practice leaves plenty to be desired. The melodramatic title is alluring in its own right, leaving the average listener to assume that this is a record chock-full of passionate arrangements. Unfortunately, the latest CD feels like rehashed and often generic HIM material. Valo's charisma and impressive vocal range do carry Screamworks to a point, but the themes behind the songs in no way seem to mirror the pop-like music accompanying them. It's understandable why the Finnish band chose Heartkiller as the first single from the new album, as its chorus is a catchy one and the intro synth line does draw you in at first listen. It's still more of a pop-rock song than anything broaching the alternative genre, but again, it has the sing-along appeal that will make it an airplay-worthy. The opening track is infectious in a similar way, aided by Valo's unique vocal phrasing (often slipping into a slightly falsetto) along the way. There's a brief moment when the background vocals morph into a chanting choir (fitting for the Latin title), but it's gone all too quickly to be truly effective. Screamworks shows a bit more promise in the last half of the CD. Shatter Me With Hope begins with a quirky keyboard line atop distorted guitars, and it at least delivers a much-needed energy to the album. In The Arms Of Rain is driven by a U2-like rhythmic style only imagine The Edge if he were on Speed. The choruses in both usually pan out in fairly the same way with lackluster results, but there's at least enough interesting content within the overall arrangement that it keeps your interest. After a good dose of pop-rock songs on much of the CD, there was the hope that HIM would pull out the big dramatic number in the final moments. Nothing is ever mind-blowing on Screamworks, but the last track The Foreboding Sense of Impending Happiness at least commits to more of a mellower sound than anything else heard on the CD. The synthesizer's hypnotic effects are the primary focus in that track, but the addition of dreamlike vocals and an unusual, laid-back arrangement all make for a satisfying closer number.

Lyrics — 9
Where the music fails to deliver drama, Valo usually comes through ten times over lyrically. Heartkiller provides just one example with lines such as, Farewell heartless world; I'll send you a postcard burnt in flames; You've tried so hard to extinguish with the fear of failing; I'll write down everything I've learned. Valo has a natural gift at making his lyrics indeed sound like they've come straight from a book of his own personal poetry or perhaps a private journal, and that's the major selling point to Screamworks.

Overall Impression — 7
HIM every once in awhile is able to obtain the wow factor, but it's sadly missing in action on Screamworks. While keyboardist Janne Puurtinen is working overtime delivering everything from industrial rhythms to cherubic compositions, the core songwriting is not living up to its end of the bargain. Valo, as usual, has a wide vocal range that compensates in some areas, but it's not enough to make the listener connect emotionally which given the heavy lyrical content is something that the HIM might have had in mind.

47 comments sorted by best / new / date

    goro008
    great album . . . . "Heartkiller", "Disarm Me", "Katherine's Wheel" are the best songs from that album . . . .
    RyoujokuNoAme
    I think this album is really great. HIM are probably the only band I like who keep churning out songs which sound similar, but still sound really great. 'Heartkiller', 'Scared To Death' and 'Disarm Me' probably the highlights of the album.
    Duskmetal76
    Great album. The sound does seem a bit more popish, but I think its prob just from the fact that its more upbeat. I am a bit biased since HIM were most of the reason I started guitar and ventured into rock and metal, they also put a huge influence on my writing style. But all in all I think the album is a bit differing from their previous ones, but fits in snugly and does excellently.
    CalebJThompson
    Duskmetal76 wrote: Great album. The sound does seem a bit more popish, but I think its prob just from the fact that its more upbeat. I am a bit biased since HIM were most of the reason I started guitar and ventured into rock and metal, they also put a huge influence on my writing style. But all in all I think the album is a bit differing from their previous ones, but fits in snugly and does excellently.
    This.
    Stuart90
    I personally love this album but then again I love all HIM's album. Each one sounds different and I think alot of people were expecting another Venus Doom where its just all heavy.
    reignofrock
    From what I've heard this album has more to offer than Venus Doom. Man, Venus Doom was a huge let down for me. Sure, it had solos and blah blah blah, but so far this album is a step in the right direction in my opinion. Then again Deep Shadows has always been my favorite...
    Stuart90
    Well for starters, its not all played in B Major and if you go back and listen to HIM's albums one by one you will see that every album sounds different. Sure, some songs may sound the same but HIM have never been a band to release a album that sounds like a past one. This is a reason why I love this band, the fact that no matter what they release itwill always be a breath of fresh air. Dark Light? I don't get how it was abit poppy, sure its not Greatest love songs but then again what is? If it wasn't for all these music magazines shoving Ville in your face like we are all teenage girls then maybe HIM would get more respect for their musicality. Still, this album is another amazing release from a band that is still growing and expanding their sound. Maybe next album will be a rip off of Venus Doom and Greatest Love Songs like some people expect but I hope they just keep expanding their sound.
    Tapping_Ninja
    tmarkov1 wrote: I'm sorry to say this, but this album is the worst HIM have produced to date. I've been a fan since "Greatest Lovesongs" and this is just...horrid. I can understand their urge to sound poppier in order to break into the US market, but this album undermines their artistic credibility in my eyes. Venus Doom was a much superior effort, albeit weak compared to Razorblade Romance or Greatest Lovesongs.
    Yes it's more poppy.... But not like most bands today to be honest this has more in common with 80's pop then it does today. Plus really they haven't changed much other then adding more Major keys in there to brighten their sound otherwise it's the same band doing the same damn thing...
    CalebJThompson
    *doublepost* you can't blame the band for Matt Squire making it sound like a singer-driven band. If he actually realized the band was best in a live setting, as most bands are, he'd see that it's blending that makes them work so strongly. He shouldn't have focused on just isolated elements and just recorded their natural flow.
    Duskmetal76
    The fact remains guys that their a rock or metal band, and the whole genre was and still IS about breaking away from what is considered 'style' and forming something new. So experimenting and bringing new ideas while still keeping their bands flavor in the sound is truly great. Plus, think about it from their view, not our own, you might come out with a different idea about it.
    Confetti
    God damn this album is so horrible i could go crap into a vinyl player and the sound created from the needle poking shit would sound better then this album.
    Shoegaze
    I'm listening to this just now, so far I'm very impressed with the vocals.
    shredtildeath
    No way another shite album? The only good thing they had was Greatest Love Songs Vol. 666
    TragedyGuide
    As cliche as it sounds, with this band, you love them or hate them. they kinda play the same few songs over and over if you know what i mean. but so did some of the best bands. the new album is great if you're a HIM fan. if not i'd just ask why you aren't.
    PurpleDinosaur
    For what it is, it's brilliant. Venus Doom for me was the best work they've done to me (I'm a prog metalhead). This, however, while more poppy and commercial... it's still HIM and it's still catchy as shit. Compared to things of a similar nature, this record blows other artists out of the water.
    Amuro Jay
    Well, I'll have to get this soon... I enjoyed Venus Doom, and their greatest hits collection was pretty good too.
    blueboxdoctor
    well it can't be worse than Venus Doom (or can it?!). even dark light was a let down, cause they decided to stop being gothic, and just went to rock with some lyrics that really never vary from album to album. right now they're basically riding on their name and reputation, but that won't last forever. then again it's doing them good so hey, whatever if it works for them. some stuff's not bad on it, but overall there is a lot better gothic metal out there, just check out poisonblack, charon, or my dying bride. Compared to things of a similar nature, this record blows other artists out of the water. yeah, like i said, there are much better gothic bands out there, HIM are quickly becoming quite old and repetetive. again this is all my opinion, so don't rip on it if you do not agree.
    blueboxdoctor
    oops, the post above was supposed to quote the "Compared to things of a similar nature, this record blows other artists out of the water." part, sorry about that.
    Weeping_Demon7
    I actually think that if they would have changed some of the musical keys they played in (I think it's all in B-Major) then it would have sounded a little more diverse. But I still love HIM.
    psychoskin473
    Unfortunately, the latest CD feels like rehashed and often generic HIM material.
    Ummm, did the editor of this article listen to all of their albums? Every one has their own vibe some are more proggy, some more guitar based, and others are driven soley on valo's lyrics. Personally I anticipated this album to be like Venus Doom and a lot more riffy then it isnt but after listening to it I was pleasently surprised they didnt take the same route again. But, scared to death seems pretty contrived and a broad reach for the pop sound and just doesnt really fit the band.
    blueboxdoctor
    T3h_Killjoy wrote: decided to stop being gothic they were never gothic
    hmm, i should've been less vague, cause i consider various things to be gothic that probably aren't. but they have that mainstream goth sound, and lyrically it's pretty much gothic themes of love and what not, just presented in a more up beat, poppish way. note, i don't consider them pop per se, just mainstream. i know they consider themselves love metal or whatever, but i'm not into making subgenres of something that's already a branch of a subgenre probably.
    Link12
    Just got this album, I gotta say so far the first 3 songs are kickass.
    tmarkov1
    I'm sorry to say this, but this album is the worst HIM have produced to date. I've been a fan since "Greatest Lovesongs" and this is just...horrid. I can understand their urge to sound poppier in order to break into the US market, but this album undermines their artistic credibility in my eyes. Venus Doom was a much superior effort, albeit weak compared to Razorblade Romance or Greatest Lovesongs.
    Confetti
    TragedyGuide wrote: As cliche as it sounds, with this band, you love them or hate them. they kinda play the same few songs over and over if you know what i mean. but so did some of the best bands. the new album is great if you're a HIM fan. if not i'd just ask why you aren't.
    That's really ain't accurate. I loved the 4 first albums and hated Dark Light and this album now. Venus Doom was awesome. Are you trying to imply that all critic that the album has is just because HIMs not your thing?
    Synysterwylde22
    Venus Doom was def the best HIM album to date. This in terms of heaviness makes Venus Doom seem like its by Children of Bodom. THe heaviest song on Screamworks is prob Ode To Solitude. Goo album no mattter what
    SilverSpurs616
    tmarkov1 wrote: I'm sorry to say this, but this album is the worst HIM have produced to date. I've been a fan since "Greatest Lovesongs" and this is just...horrid. I can understand their urge to sound poppier in order to break into the US market, but this album undermines their artistic credibility in my eyes. Venus Doom was a much superior effort, albeit weak compared to Razorblade Romance or Greatest Lovesongs.
    This. I've found that I have to listen to a song from Screamworks a dozen times before it even starts to grow on me, that just shouldn't happen.. Venus Doom was the best album for me, so perhaps I'll always consider anything else a letdown
    xhornetxx
    I listened twice and i'm sorry to say this too... It's the worst HIM album i have ever listen. Damn! It's not rock! It's Pop-rock! I want to hear some dark and heavy riffs like Greatest Lovesong Vol. 666. Valo's voice is like a little lady... Where is the dark sounded, and impressive vocals? I'll continue to listen Greatest Lovesongs Vol 666 and Venus Doom!
    warner_dylan
    wow this review is more of an opinion i personally think this album kicks ass in everyway. its not dark like past albums put still deep with some pretty kickass solos
    blueboxdoctor
    Venus Doom was the best album for me, so perhaps I'll always consider anything else a letdown
    lol, as soon as I read this a song from that album came on shuffle and instantly without thinking I skipped it and Midnattsol came on. I don't see the attraction to Venus Doom really.
    TragedyGuide
    cookada3 wrote: this review is crap, i've listened to the entire cd and think it's classic HIM, sounds very similar to razorblade romance and dark light, has an 80's feel, i really think it's probably my favorite HIM cd yet, i guess the critics just don't understand the band,i would strongly recommend getting this cd, it's truely amazing and will probably be one of the best rock cd's of the year, listen to the fan's comments not the reviews!
    well said. they're not even the least bit off their game.
    SilverSpurs616
    Ants of the Sky wrote: Uh oh. I thought HIM was a type of flavored Enema. Oh wait, it is.
    Bend over and open those cheeks, you're on the receiving end
    LOVEinTHEORY33
    This review is crap.I'm a HUGE HIM fan and this album is nothing short of amazing.Mr.Reviewer,there is a reason Valo and his four band mates are making this album,and you are giving your two cents worth.I'm sorry but your "two cents" isn't even worth that.
    a7xb4d
    Even though I really like HIM, Screamworkd didn't seem to be quite as good as their previous albums.
    cookada3
    this review is crap, i've listened to the entire cd and think it's classic HIM, sounds very similar to razorblade romance and dark light, has an 80's feel, i really think it's probably my favorite HIM cd yet, i guess the critics just don't understand the band,i would strongly recommend getting this cd, it's truely amazing and will probably be one of the best rock cd's of the year, listen to the fan's comments not the reviews!
    DwizzleDizzle
    Ants of the Sky wrote: Uh oh. I thought HIM was a type of flavored Enema. Oh wait, it is.
    why would u flavor an enema....u sir are a tard