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Review: HIM – XX: Two Decades Of Love Metal (Album)

Finnish legends HIM have released a best-of compilation twenty years in the making, and this what we thought of it.

Band: HIM
Release: XX – Two Decades of Love Metal (Album)
Release Date: Out Now

Love them or hate them, the founders of love metal have come a long way from being a Black Sabbath tribute band, the Ville Valo fronted group enjoying massive mainstream success in the US and UK thanks to their unique brand of rock and roll. They may have slunk back into the shadows for now, but the Finns have been hard at work in the studio recording ‘Tears On Tape’, the followup to 2010’s ‘Screamworks: Love In Theory And Practice’. In the meantime, they’ve been kind enough to tide us over with a second compilation, collecting some of their greatest hits from their entire career all in one place – well, almost.

It kicks off with new single ‘Strange World’, a track decidedly removed from the direction the band took with with their last studio album whilst retaining some of that defiant pop kick it had. The floaty vocals,chugging bass and the occasional twinkling synth emerging over languishing riffs are more reminiscent of the ‘Dark Light’ days and some fans will be glad to see the band returning to the sound that brought them mainstream success.  The single feels a lot like an attempt to reassure fans that the band are still coming up with fresh material after two decades of Ville Valo‘s anguished lyricism. It’s hardly the most inspired song they’ve ever recorded, but they’re still tight as a group and whatever mystical fount of energy they’ve squirreled away from bands that have succumbed to mindless generics during their career’s span has not yet run dry.

From then on it’s a wander down memory lane for fans of the band or alternative kids alive from the nineties to the early 2000s, with obvious hits like ‘Wings of a Butterfly’ and ‘Buried Alive By Love’ nestling by more recent singles ‘Heartkiller’ and ‘The Kiss of Dawn’. There are a few old-time classics in there too – ‘Your Sweet 666’ and ‘In Joy And Sorrow’ stretching to the furthest reaches of the back catalogue. The twenty tracks are wall-to-wall mainstream favourites with little room for fluff, but anyone who still has a copy of their last greatest hits (‘And Love Said No’) will obviously notice some startling resemblances between the track list. It’s a nice update, but one that doesn’t feel essential in the slightest – unless, of course, the band aren’t planning on sticking around much longer. There isn’t nearly as much care put into it as it felt with ‘And Love Said No’, the new single feeling slightly half-hearted in comparison to the two new songs that accompanied the last Greatest Hits.

This is one to buy if you haven’t checked the band out for a few years and want the best bits of the last two albums summarised. If you’re already up to date, just buy ‘Strange World’ as a single and save your money for ‘Tears on Tape’.

8/10

Reviewer: Laurence Stark

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