12 February 2011

'Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice, Chapters 1-13

Try saying that title five times in one breath. :P
(CREDIT: to owner. Music by HIM. You get the idea...)
Rank: 4.5 out of 5 <- a Valentine's Day treat

Just because I had this urge to celebrate it's being out for one year, I am excited to play nothing but my favorite band's music on Valentine's Day, and I must change from the explosive previous post to a more uplifting one... I present to you... Screamworks, the album that might as well been my gift for being a fan for one year.

Tenebris wrote a review of this last year, so maybe I'm copying her again, but I want to add my few cents. Though I disagree with her view on the album, I finally have the guts to admit, after many months of confusion, that HIM truely fell a few steps back. However, I am not completely sure why, so I have no idea what rank I want to give this right now. Maybe by the end I will know.

The good news is that this was the first HIM album without Ville consuming a drop from a beer bottle. Being sober for almost three years now, he looks and sounds better than ever (something we all needed after the last album.) Screamworks in a way represents his returning on a lighter path, though still pessimistic. Hence the line, "here's to the pain, the light of the oncoming train" from the epic "Ode to Solitude."

But before I transform into a drooling female fangirl praising and blabbering about Ville until you want to punch your monitor.... THE ALBUM ITSELF:

This sounds more like the old HIM again. After the more mainstream Dark Light with no Linde guitar solo action and the depressing Venus Doom, however with badass and epic instrumentals, this is the more melodic (Deep Shadows), melancholic (Love Metal), and energenic (Razerblade... but nowhere near as nausiating *wink, wink*) sound. "In Venere Veritas" is "The Funeral of Hearts" if it was a cheery celebration on a pirate ship; more upbeat, but a little morbid lyrically. Meanwhile "Love, the Hardest Way" reminds me a lot of Razorblade Romance, as blasphemous as it might sound to some. "In the Arms of Rain," hands down is one of the best songs on Screamworks, made me happy with a good old "WTF" moment in the beginning; and "Ode to Solitude" is badass and epic, almost like many tracks on Venus Doom. As a whole, the majority of the songs were very well written and performed.

Heck, even my dad really liked this CD.

But now the critiquing time. After viewing the Heartagram Boards and reading on which songs fans liked and disliked, I can think that several fans might agree that the album hits a rough road near the end. To be specific, "Shatter Me with Hope." By far, I have seen more complaints about this song than any other ("Acoustic Funeral" and the two singles come next,) and I agree with them. Something felt "off" about that as well as the afterward songs until the last track. The pacing seemed forced, lifeless, and rather dull. Most times I listen to the first nine songs then skip to the last one, which is a very royal, unexpected treat. But honestly, this is the first HIM album when I frequently want to skip tracks. Perhaps if the songs were arranged in a different order, the overall pacing wouldn't have declined. But really, I am no genius in this.

Another complaint? Ville. *gasp* *dodges projectiles from outraged fangirls*

Yeah. I honestly think that Ville, although thankfully in better health, chose to try a bit of screaming this time (not like Cradle of Filth or even Linkin Park, thank God. O_O) Some songs, like "Disarm Me" and "In the Arms of Rain," were fine with the experimenting, but other times, especially in "Shatter Me with Hope," I wanted him to put duck tape on his mouth. Plus, is it just me, or is 65% of the album nothing but vocals? I think the longest instrumental break is maybe 10 seconds long. Not that such a thing is horrible...

Anyway, I knew this would happen someday, so I'm not too upset, but it still feels odd. Like a kid realizing his idols do not possess invincible powers after all.

Overall, the reception was very positive, but sales... were embarassingly bad. People knew the music, but weren't buying the product. And the band was so excited and hoped it would sell too...
Hmm. This might hint for a later topic on the music industry...

For sure, this is a highly recommended listen. Screamworks is more accessible than Razorblade Romance, though it lacks the "originality" and overall satisfaction that older fans miss so much (you know how it is.) On the other hand this is more enjoyable than Dark Light in my opinion. Like hard rock with 80's influence? Try this out.

Time to celebrate Singles Awareness Day with my favorite band. :)

And to all the fans, Happy Heartagram Day!!!

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