At long last, Tears on Tape is available for our listening pleasure. And what a pleasure it is!
Before I go further, I want to briefly address the challenge of finally hearing new albums. The anticipation, the wondering, the striving to envision whole songs from the preview snippets lead to some pretty heady expectations. The albums rarely meet those expectations at first, because you wanted/expected/hoped for something different.
I think this problem has, for me, become more pronounced with the internet, where so much information is available before the release. (Note that I am not a fan of spoilers or stealing music – so I dutifully waited until Tuesday for the full release to hear the full album)
Ok, back to the review:
After adjusting to the reality and letting go of my expectations, I must say Tears on Tape is excellent. Is it their best album (in my opinion, of course)? No – that honor so far goes to 2007’s Venus Doom. Is it a great effort and a definite middle finger to the naysayers? Yes, yes it is. They took the three years since Screamworks: Love In Theory & Practice to heal their wounds and refocus and are now back for the attack!
One of HIM’s greatest strengths as a band is that they never, ever make the same album twice. Frankly, if you want that kind of predictability, go listen to AC/DC. HIM have never abandoned their core “Love Metal” vibe, but they do always progress. Tears on Tape takes them deep into 80’s Synth Territory, which does take some adjusting to, I must admit. But they also managed to bring together elements from their entire career, particularly blending together the last three very disparate albums. Only a band with this much chutzpa and talent could pull it off.
1. Vocals & Lyrics: Ville Valo is one of the most underrated vocalists of our generation (That range! That control! That timbre!), not to mention one of the most talented lyricists. Love in all its dark, beautiful, gut-wrenching glory is put on display – no kittens and rainbows here (Beliebers Beware). See some samples below.
2. Guitars: Linde. \m/. ’nuff said.
3. The smörgåsbord of styles and emotions: Metal, goth, punk, pop, rock, 80s synth, Love Metal, even some doo-wop and old-school crooning to polish it off. Did I mention talent and chutzpa?
4. To complete the 80’s references and to compliment the album title, the album begins and ends with tape player sounds. For those too young to remember, listening to tapes was an entirely different and nostalgia-worthy listening experience. I LOVE that HIM are still making albums – with obvious consideration about flow and the entirety of the statement. Kiitos guys!
In sum, on Michelle’s Arbitrary Rating Scale, I give the album an 8.5. All in all, 13 morsels of tasty Love Metal with all the necessary bits and pieces. The lost points? As a fan, I would prefer something a little more clean production-wise (lots of layers here, well-mixed and produced, but I do miss the more straightforward sounds of old) and with a direction slanting a little bit more toward the Love Metal & Venus Doom albums.
Sadly, I cannot currently rate the full, deluxe packaging since my UK import has yet to arrive (Metal Hammer – I’m looking at you).
I will leave you with the following goodies:
Hearts At War
So, after all that we have done
Are you feeling cold like the winter sun?
And have you thought about all the whispers we left unsaid?
WLSTD (their latest nod to Sabbath)
When Love Starts to Die
It begins with a kiss
Violently soothing and warm
When love starts to die
When love starts to die
So do I
Into The Night
Into the night, we ride
Scars wide open
Into the night
You and I torn and broken
Bleed into the night
I Will Be The End Of You
Love’s screaming I will be the end of you
and I’m pleading don’t you stop now
Go on tear me apart, show me all you have got
And I will be so free from all that has been
The first video, for the title track Tears on Tape (Burton – keyboardist – steals the show):
(Yes, he needs some hair conditioner. Desperately)
Now, go buy (or stream, if you must) the album (don’t steal – these guys have kids and castles to care for)!
Lastly, unrelated to HIM, but it would be wrong to not acknowledge this important passing: R.I.P. Jeff Hanneman. \m/