Screamworks: Love In Theory And Practice


Seeing an album called Screamworks, you might assume that the collection of songs is infused with yelping shrieks and ear-bursting screeching, if not the title of a tacky theme-park horror show. Surprisingly, neither case is true with HIM’s seventh album, which the Finnish rock band imbibes with sweet sonnets recounting heated elements of past relationships, all set over wailing guitars, a constant drumbeat and lead singer Ville Valo’s ever-present soaring baritone.

Ranging from angry outbursts to passionate endearments of love, Valo’s vocals alternate from expressing trembling sweet nothings like “I am not afraid to admit I adore you / any more than I was before” (“Scared To Death”) to warning a lover who spurned him, complete with Homeric and biblical references, with “The girl who cried at ‘love, won’t you come and play with me?’ / You can be Cassandra, underneath the sword of Damocles” (“Shatter Me With Hope”). The album is a straightforward chronicle of old relationships, accurately referred to by Valo as a “sonic diary,” and covers both rocky ground and romantic valentines, leaving no territory of sweetness or bitter past untouched.

The tracks here are stadium-ready soaring metal blasts, but the changes from previous albums are noticeable – HIM has left some of its straight-up metal sound behind. While tracks like “Scared To Death” remain pure metal, the band absorbs a more commercial, power-pop sound on songs like lead single “Heartkiller,” which incorporates synths and favors duller guitars and brash drums. The new approach doesn’t detract from the sound, although older fans might be displeased. But no matter what criticism is leveled towards them about recent changes, the band has never had lyrics this significant — their effort to cover both the morose and blissful sides of passion shines apparent through the album. It’s easy to see why the band has self-labeled their genre as “Love Metal.” And the blistering solos, laced through Valo’s fiery exclamations and snarky come-ons, are only sweet sweet icing on the metal cake.

HIM is known for being one of the most progressive artists in their genre, and Screamworks doesn’t hide it. It captures traditional metal sounds as well as modern pop, creating a mixture of sound of its very own, and expressing the love, hope and sadness inevitable in any relationship. 7/10

Boss Ditties:

“Scared To Death”