Released: Feb 8, 2010
Genre: Alternative Rock
Label: Sire Records
Number Of Tracks: 13
Although the lyrical content featured within HIM's seventh album is almost poetic in nature, the lackluster musical foundation doesn't deliver the same emotional punch.
Screamworks: Love In Theory And Practice
UG Team, on february 09, 2010 3 of 5 people found this review helpful
Sound: 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. // 6
Lyrics: 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. // 9
Overall Impression: 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. // 7
Screamworks: Love In Theory And Practice
helsinkivampire, on february 12, 2010 0 of 1 people found this review helpful
Sound: "Screamworks: Love in Practice and Theory" is going to be HIM's greatest selling album to debut. As their fifth album, "Dark Light", was purchased by over 600,000 HIM fans to date, "Screamworks..." has been purchased by 200,000 is just the first week alone. I believe that this album is the true prodigy that Ville has been searching for throughout his musical career. Burton composed more keyboard riffs and intro's than ever before on this album. I live in Huntsville, Alabama for f--k's sake and almost every store had the album sold out... // 10
Lyrics: I know I am not telling anything a true HIM fan already knows about Ville's lyrics and his voice, but on this album, once again, you can understand Ville's heartache and sincerity by listening to the lyrics. However, there seems to be no anger expressed by Ville in this album... I believe that he has become fed up with his "creative depression", from Johnna and his childhood. Consequently, This "creative depression" Ville has been going through has made him a very successful artist and a savior to many fans. Anybody could listen to Ville's lyrics and understand that the world is a f--ked up place and love can literally kill someone... I understand the pain that he is going through just by listening to his voice, even in an interview. I just want Ville and the band to know that I truly, from the bottom of my heart, respect what they do and that they have more balls than any other musician I know (Zakk Wylde as an exception). But I will shut up now... // 10
Overall Impression: As I said before, there is nothing wrong with this album and does not compare to any of their previous albums, excluding "Dark Light". Their very popular single, "Heartkiller", has caught my attention in a very special way. To me, this song explains how one can try too hard to make love work between another. Doing this will only make that particular love flourish away due to the presence of "scaring another away". You cannot make love work and you should not have too or even want too. If this album was lost or stolen, I would buy all the albums available in one store. // 10
Screamworks: Love In Theory And Practice
unregistered, on march 05, 2010 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Lets take you back to the year 2000. I was sitting on my couch watching a DVD of CKY3, and the one part that stood out to me, much to my surprise and my friends dismay, was a series of stunts set to the song "Right Here In My Arms" by HIM. I remember thinking "Wow, this is a great song, its better than anything else on this DVD." The song itself blew me away. 10 years later, I still get a little chill up my spine when I listen to that song. It struck something in me. After the O.K. Dark Light in 2005, and the very dissapointing Venus Doom in 2007, its safe to say that my interest and hope has been renewed in HIM, thanks to this years "Screamworks."
Theres a few disappointments i had in terms of sound, such as how almost every song has a toned down electronic drum track in a certain part of it, or how a lot of songs have that same pause in between the first Verse and the main Chorus, often being filled with some sort of cheesy 80's Keyboard. Another let-down for me is that Lead Guitarist Linde Lazer is not given a real chance to shine on this album. Most of the songs are played with power chords in odd progressions, and almost every song is completely void of an guitar solo at all, unlike Venus Doom (which might I add was the only highlight of the album). Drummer Gas has stepped up on this album however, and he almost single handedly steals the spotlight from Lead Singer Ville Valo. I know some of you are going to think I'm nuts for that last statement, but give the album another listen, without listening to the crooning voice of Valo, and listen to some of the complex beats and breakdowns that Gas throws down. Bassist Mige...well...his job is pointless as always with bass riffs that might as well have been filled in using a simple editing program.
The entire album sounds happy, with the exception of a few songs, or at first anyway, as the songs that sounds like old "slit my wrists" HIM are usually often marred by a more toned down and poppy Chorus.
The overall sound of the album is good, as all the instruments mesh together very well in a greatly arranged album, but there are a few let downs. // 7
Lyrics: Ville Valo, trademark pessimistic somehow becomes overwhelmingly happy, seeking soulmate to cuddle with and draw hearts on the mirror for. If Ville Valo had a personal ad in the paper, it would look like that after this album. His lyrics have gone from always looking at the doom and gloom in things, to suddenly being...happy. One lyric in particular struck me as odd coming from his inevitably cancer stricken vocal chords: "I'm so happy to see you where you belong, in these arms you belong in." I almost threw up in my mouth just typing that. What happened to always being torn apart from the one he loved and wanting to die to be with them? Now, I'm not saying this is bad, I'm just saying that its slightly unusual, especially for Valo. However, thats my only complaint about the lyrics, as most of the lyrics on the album are heavily influenced by history, and more than likely required a major amount of studying and reading old high school history books and mythological lore. The lyrics match the sound style of the album very well, as does Valo's vocal range, being that the music sounds happier, the lyrics further drive that happiness right into every 15 year old emo girls heart, making them, albiet hesitantly, squeeze out a smile. Unfortunately, Valo's voice does seem to be fading, as in certain parts his voice felt too rough, a much better fit for their last effort "Venus Doom." But still, I find myself it work humming, or even singing these songs all day long, so the lyrics, despite their unusually happy tone, do stick with you, and are some of the most catchiest HIM lyrics yet. // 9
Overall Impression: At first listen, I have to admit, I HATED this album. But then I realized it was because its not the traditional HIM album that I'm used to, so I gave it a few more listens and I've really started to come around, as it turns out to be a really catchy album. While it doesn't live up to "Razorblade Romance" (will anything?) it still is a decent, semi-solid effort from Finland's biggest export, next to the Dudesons (who just signed a 6 million dollar deal with MTV here in the US). Here's to another 2 years of waiting for the next HIM album, another 2 years of hoping its like "Razorblade Romance" and then the two years after wishing the same thing about the next album. // 8
Screamworks: Love In Theory And Practice
Jaded7, on may 14, 2010 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: Long considered a primary pioneer in Finnish metal, HIM has been offering Gothic alternative rock for almost twenty years now. They have been praised for their Black Sabbath-style doom metal heard throughout all of their albums. And it seemed that as time progressed, they seemed to get better and better, adding more heaviness and Gothic imagery to an already solid rock n' roll formula.
Their last album, Venus Doom, was probably their best album up to that point. It took the classic HIM formula and multiplied it by three, making it almost an orchestra of heavy Goth rock.
So by all of this, you can obviously tell that I am a huge HIM fan. And when I found out that they would release a new album entitled "Screamworks," I was ecstatic. Venus Doom was absolute nirvana for me, and when I heard that Screamworks was going to be their most experimental, I was even more pumped. I couldn't wait to hear what new sounds Ville Valo and the boys had to offer.
The day finally came. February 8, 2010. I rushed to my nearest music store and found that there was just one last copy of Screamworks available. I quickly ran to the cashier, paid for the album, and went straight home. As I was opening the CD case, I knew for a fact that I was in for an experience. I put the CD into my stereo system and listened to the album.
After listening to the album, I can say this. I was right about one thing: it is an experience. Unfortunately, it's not the experience I was hoping for.
The band did state that Screamworks would be their most experimental, and that is indeed true. The album provides a much more pop-fueled sound, which is the major problem. It's not slightly pop, but pretty much half-and-half. And in some cases, it's more like one-quarter-and-three-quarters as the pop sounds tend to be very over the top by drowning out the overall heaviness of the guitars and reduce them to something of the likes of a sound produced by a tad harder version of The Who. As a matter of fact, the final track on this album, "The Foreboding Sense of Impending Happiness", is just pop with no guitar work at all. It's probably the most out of place song on that album (and that is saying a lot) and makes me uneasy as I even think about it.
But it's not all bad, because there are actually a few songs that actually work very well with the pop sounds: "Heartkiller" & "Like St. Valentine", which combine Gothic hard rock with some nice synthesizer and keyboard based sounds, "Katherine Wheel", which bears a sound somewhat similar to some of the songs found on Dark Light, and "In The Arms Of Rain", which is without a doubt the best song on the album with its insane use of the keyboard. It's just a shame that the other songs on the album couldn't make use of great use of the pop sounds as these four did. // 3
Lyrics: Ville Valo's voice in this album is both a blessing and a curse. While Valo does maintain that deep Jim Morrison-like voice and sings about the usual death-demons-love poetry, both factors seem ridiculously out of place in Screamworks with the album's over-the-top upbeat pop sounds. Granted, the vocals and lyrics are great here, but, with the exceptions of "Heartkiller", "Katherine Wheel", "In The Arms Of Rain", and "Like St. Valentine", they just don't mix well. // 5
Overall Impression: "Disappointment" isn't even a strong enough word here. It wasn't the Gothic and depressing lyrics that bummed me out about this album, but it was just the majority of the album itself. HIM does display at times on this album that they are capable of making a decent pop-metal album similar to that of Van Halen or Winger. And while I am all for a band experimenting with a new sound and diving into uncharted territory, the band has to make sure that it's not over-the-top experimental. It happened to Metallica in the mid 1990's and it's happening to HIM now in the year 2010. In fact, this album is definitely worthy enough of being called the Load of the 2010's, and I'm not so sure that's something to be proud of. // 4
Screamworks: Love In Theory And Practice
BenjoJames, on october 14, 2010 0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sound: The polar opposite of 2007's 'Venus Doom', Finland's veteran goth rock champions HIM have traded in the dirgey, Sabbath influenced doom metal that was so prevalent on said LP for the brighter strains of 80's pop. Whilst being influenced by such opposing styles has counted toward their advantage in the past (I refer you to 1999's 'Razorblade Romance' or 2003's 'Love Metal') 'Screamworks..' lacks the power and punch that pushed the Helsinki goths into the mainstream rock scene, sounding somewhat cliched and self-absorbed when contrasted with thier other works. Whilst having many catchy hooks and saving graces in the uplifting 'Scared to Death' and the experimental 'The Foreboding Sense of Impending Happiness', one cannot help but feel a little cheated by Ville Valo and co's latest effort. // 6
Lyrics: The poetic nature of Ville Valo's lyrics is certainly impressive, however errs on self-absorbed. As per usual, the concept of love is Valo's muse, however as opposed to the heartbreak, loss and pain featured on previous efforts, Valo instead chooses to focus on the 'theory and practice' involved in maintaining a relationship. Valo's imagination and ego seem to run away with him to a degree though, and it is no mean feat that he has managed to condense his romantic stream of consciousness into HIM's standard verse/chorus format. Vocal wise, Valo is at the top of his game, most probably due to his abstaining the alcohol and cigarettes that once defined him. There are many lush textures of voice throughout 'Screamworks...', particularly on opener 'In Venere Veritas', where at one point his baritone harmonies begin to resemble a Medieval choir. // 8
Overall Impression: Sonically, the catchy pop driven 'Screamworks...' is most akin to 2005's 'Dark Light', however lacks the variation and depth that made 'Dark Light' so critically acclaimed. Whilst individually, every track from 'Screamworks...' is catchy, well written and strong in it's own right, as an album 'Screamworks...' starts to become monotonous and cliched. 'In Venere Veritas' is a strong opener, classic HIM with a fresher, denser, more layered production courtesy of pop producer Matt Squire. The following track and second single ('Heartkiller' was the first single to have been released off of 'Screamworks') 'Scared to Death' takes HIM's pop sensibility to new heights with an uplifting love song chock full of catchy hooks and 80's keyboards. Throughout the album there is a subtle electronica influence and production style; this is made most evident in closing track 'The Foreboding Sense of Impending Happiness', a chilling electronic love poem resultant of guitarist Mikko 'Linde' Lindstrom having broken his wrist and being unable to play guitar on the track. If this album were lost I would much rather buy the Matt Squire produced 'Streets of Gold' by 3OH!3 than this album. One for the diehard HIMster maybe, but certainly not a good introduction to the band. // 6