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HIM | ‘Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice, Chapters 1-13’

| Cadenza Reporter

After finishing “Screamworks,” it may take a few minutes to realize that the album is over. His Infernal Majesty’s latest offering has the unfortunate tendency to wash over the listener unnoticed. There’s nothing wrong with the album—the band has some OK hooks, and they attempt to make their songs dip and swell—but the record is immediately forgettable.

The band that invented the genre “love metal” to describe itself offers little of either here. A more appropriate classification might be “post-grunge emo” more in the vein of Candlebox, if they took themselves way too seriously. Frontman Ville Valo really wants you to know how angry/in love he is with his beloved. Like, he really wants you to know. Please, please know. If his maudlin, overwrought lyrics about the pain of heartbreak won’t convince you, perhaps a baying vocal delivery will get his point across.

HIM is clearly trying to inject some sense of drama into each track of “Screamworks.” Unfortunately, that leads to little more than unsurprising loud-soft-loud progressions and brief halfhearted guitar solos. It’s as if the band has these delusions that they’re writing arena rock, but there’s no substance to back it up. His Infernal Majesty are tragically innocuous.

It’s worth repeating that there’s nothing wrong with the album. How can there be? HIM doesn’t take any chances, for better or worse. Rather, we get a lot of safe, formulaic rock. There are some nice hooks, especially in the one-two punch of “Love, the Hardest Way” and “Katherine Wheel.” The latter even has some less-hackneyed lyrics and is perhaps the best rock reference to medieval torture devices since Iron Maiden (at least until we at Cadenza finally realize our dream and release an album called “Bloody Mary and the Anal Pears”).

The bottom line is that there are just other bands to fill in for HIM who do it better. The Used drive harder. My Chemical Romance are more dramatic. The Smashing Pumpkins have a better ear for melody. Our Lady Peace are less insistently depressing. Listen to one of those bands, or any band willing to take risks. Unfortunately, on “Screamworks,” HIM is not that band.

  • Lette

    Of all the albums HIM have ever made, not one could be called a failure. Every single song on every album is worth listening to, and MANY people get great pleasure from them. Not too many bands can come up with an album in which there is not one boring song. HIM does it every time. “Screamworks” is a masterpiece! You must have a tin ear. I appreciate your attempt write a readable review, but next time stick to the Bieber-age category. They would be more appreciative of your taste in music.

  • G

    Ummmm….first of all, the Album is GREAT all around, and to even put those Bands in a bracket with HIM is insulting to any one who know good music…so im insulted. Fall in love, get your heart broken fall in love again then listen to the album and then you will see the ligh……HIM is simply the greatest!

  • Really? They ARE taking risks with Screamworks, because they are poppier and more honest than ever. Metal Hammer gave them 8/10, I’m just saying..

  • scott

    Seriously..after reading your so called review of Screamworks theres no doubt you were coming right out the gate to pick em apart, which I’m sure is what you inteded to do in the first place..The Album is full of hooks..not OK ones but great ones..Your taste may not be that great considering some of the bands you mentioned above as “Better”..For one they are not trying to sound like The Smashing Pumpkins nor do they come close to any of the Emo bands you mentioned above either..They have their own sound..Original sound,,unique sound..A good sound..A sound any music listener can identify as HIM..Not!! “Our lady Peace”…Good God man..

    Screamworks is a very remarkable album..the production is fantastic, Ville’s lyrics and voice are in top he has ever sounded in his previous 6 albums.The guitar sound is still heavy and catchy..with the Drums crisp, loud and clear..I dont think your review was very honest…Because anyone with a good sense of music would understand how Intelligent Screamworks really is..Perhaps My Chemical Romance is your drug of choice but they sound nothing like Him..

    I give your review a 3 out of 10
    And thats being nice.

  • Cat

    This album needs to be listen to several times. Lyrically it is amazing. Valo is one of the best songwriters to date. These lyrics are pure genius. There is thought and intelligence to his lyrics, not just a mass of teenybopper pain and sorrow. This is pure emotion on a unimaginable level. The album is definitely for the educated. Give a few more listens. You will be hooked.