H.I.M. Venus Doom

From its opening moments, Venus Doom (both the song and album) is undeniably HIM: brooding, crooning and melancholy, wallowing in every dark emotion it evokes. But Venus Doom is much attitude as resignation, rocking hard and steady more often than it drifts into languid lament. As you’d expect from HIM, the songs exorcise several morbid demons so devilish, in fact, that the choice of nine tracks was inspired by Dante’s nine circles of hell. Each lyrical line is delivered in the velvety resonance of Ville Valo’s distinctive voice, with keyboards offering melodic support and the guitar-heavy crunch a biting contrast. Some longer arrangements and unexpected flourishes (like the psychedelic conclusion of "Sleepwalking Past Hope”) stretch the HIM formula without straying far off course. In the end though, it’s still the catchy, sing-along gloomfest that HIM do best, and Venus Doom has plenty of gloom to spare. (Warner)