HIM have been kicking about on the rock ‘n’ roll scene for as long as most of their fans have been alive, a terrifying thought in itself, and anything we needed to say about their love metal outlook or their relevance to the world of music in the 21st Century was said when we took a look at XX: Two Decades of Love Metal. It seems lazy to tread the same ground once again in such a short period of time so we’ll save you the details. The only thing you need to know about Tears on Tape, which is the Finnish quintet’s eighth album proper, is that it was borne from a time of great upheaval for the band. Drummer Gas experienced a medical problem so serious that it was looking very likely that he would not be able to drum again. A repetitive strain injury caused Gas to announce that he simply could not drum anymore and the band took a step back to revaluate their motives and goals. Frontman Ville Valo took some time to write and compose songs during Gas’ recovery and lo, Tears on Tape came into being.
The album is one of gloomy resonance and “Unleash the Red” introduces the record with sorrowful glances of electronic beats which lead into the almost subdued verses of “Lips Go Blue” which has that has the quiet verse/huge chorus/mad riff/excellent husky voice formula going on and it’s a wonderful beginning to a mature and rocky as heck album. Tears on Tape doesn’t mess with the HIM blueprint all that much, but this is a band that are absolutely the best at what they do and fucking around with the sound is only to their detriment although they do add instrumental sections - "Trapped in Autumn," "Lucifer's Chorale" and the closing sadness of "Kiss the Void" which serve to add to the melancholic atmosphere of the album and show that HIM can expand on their sound in great ways at times.
“I Will Be the End of You” is a heady anthem of woe and the doomed out sections that HIM throw into the mix on occasion hark back to their early days and flesh the tracks out with heavy courses of guitar (Linde). The title track is a fantastically morose work that showcases Valo’s charming and depth-filled voice whilst it twists around the piano style leads of the keyboard (Burton) and laments on the death of love. "No Love" is catchy as hell and flies with huge guitar riffs and a crunchy bass (Migé) that brings a solid and tangible weight to proceedings.
"W.L.S.T.D." or "When Love Starts to Die" is a crushing penultimate song that revels in darkness and mystery. Valo's voice plumbs depths that he probably wasn't even aware that he could reach and it reaches for your heart with heartfelt longing and regret. HIM are on incredible form with Tears on Tape and the songs here speak of fear of the end. Fear of the breakdown of a relationship, yes, but on a much more personal and terrifying level for them, the breakdown of their band. The health of friends is infinitely important, but it's clear that Valo is at times speaking of his terror at his band possibly ceasing to exist. Tears on Tape is a record that HIM needed to make in order to work through new feelings of loss and dread and anxiety. For them, this could have been the end but this setback only made them stronger.
8.5 / 10
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