Dark Light


Sire, 2005


REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk


I don't watch MTV, VH1 or any of their ilk. I rarely listen to commercial radio. I stopped reading music trade magazines years ago when they all became shills for whatever record labels their parent companies own. I rely mainly on word of mouth from my fellow DV staffers and friends to hear about new music.

However, I become curious about trends. One trend I discovered recently came in the form of a huge wall display I saw on a trip to Hot Topic with Sam, my teenage son. An entire wall displaying shirts, shoes, purses and so on; all featuring a logo representing a hybrid of a pentagram and a heart.

Me: "What's that?"
Sam: "HIM."
Me: "Is that a person or a band?"
Sam: "A band, I think."
Me: "Have you heard them?"
Sam: " No way! The Goth kids like them." (Sam listens almost exclusively to classic rock, bless his heart.)my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

My curiosity piqued, I went on to learn that HIM is a quintet from Finland and apparently is huge in Europe. HIM is actually an acronym for His Infernal Majesty (gag). The first impression you get on Rhapsody is a picture of an album cover or the band, but in this case, a picture of the band was displayed. I don't know if I'd call them Goth, but they did appear to have been shot out of a cannon through a Hot Topic store and landed on the other side wearing whatever stuck. Not a good sign.

I really didn't know what to expect, but what I heard was extremely simplistic emo-metal with a lot of dark romantic imagery in the lyrics. Completely generic guitar riffs and synth-laden melodies over pseudo-gothic lyrics that sounded like excerpts from some angst-ridden teenage girl's poetry journal. Musically, I found it to be clichéd and monotonous, each song soundly very much like the last. Most of their hooks seem to be lifted from 80s hair metal with a lot of digitized choir layered over the top; add the incessant synth loops that pollute the album and the effect is very polished and pretty but downright boring in the end.

The thing that made me laugh was the lyrics. Their attitude is all dark, gothic and romantic, but the songs are just silly. Take this line from the abysmal "Rip Out The Wings Of A Butterfly," which is typical of their cliché-ridden fodder: "The blood on our hands is the wine / We offer as sacrifice / Come on, and show them your love / Rip out the wings of a butterfly."

Rip out the wings of a butterfly? Please. That one made me laugh out loud. I'm no Mr. Crowley but I suspect that "His Infernal Majesty" would probably not be overly impressed by the sacrifice of butterfly wings. But it would keep your pleather trousers from getting smudged with blood and avoid chipping your black nail polish.

I know a few Goth types. They listen to The Cure, Bauhaus, NIN, Stabbing Westward, Type-O-Negative and the like. I couldn't imagine any of them listening to this crap. The best metaphor I can think of to define my impression of Dark Light is those kid's albums they sell on TV -- the ones where kids re-sing the latest hits by Britney Spears or 50 Cent.

HIM reminded me of that, Goth-for-tots. I can see why the 14 and under crowd enjoys them, but I recommend avoiding HIM (Them? It?) at all costs.

Rating: D

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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