The Finnish, goth-emo five-piece, HIM, have probably made a living less on the merits of their music and more on the symbols that define their music: mounds of eyeliner, a wardrobe straight out of Hot Topic and that dangerously jagged heart-meets-triangle necklace, which is referred to as a “heartagram.” Knowing this, the band’s newest album, “Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice,” seems destined to adhere to the stereotypes associated with goth-emo music: insipid instrumentation and painfully obvious lyrics about self-loathing and suffering.
Unfortunately, this hypothesis is not far off the mark. What we are getting here is the logical step forward for the Jonas Brothers’ fan base as they discover that smooth harmonies about love no longer satisfy their inner-angst and inconsolable suffering. Capitalizing on this open market, HIM churns out the most simplified, digestible instrumentals over overwrought lyrics on “Screamworks,” clocking in at almost an hour of self-indulgent monotony.
From the initial power chords of the single, “Heartkiller,” it becomes apparent that not much separates HIM from the average garage band instrumentally. However, few bands contain the sheer shamelessness to spew out hilariously inane lyrics like, “Farewell, heartless world / I’ll send you a postcard burnt / In the flames you’ve tried so hard to extinguish with the fear of failing.”
No, there are no typos there, just a bunch of random, trite statements from a group desperately trying to appeal to a young, emotionally distressed demographic.
The faux poetry continues on the single: “Top hats off to the return / Of the beat to lick a wound to / Cursed for some and blessed for a few.” After listening to and reading those lines, if you aren’t scratching your head in confusion or blushing with embarrassment (believe me, I have done both), then maybe this band could work for you.
Vocalist Ville Valo then admits, “It doesn’t have to make any sense at all / Come hither and we’ll fall.” At least he is acknowledging that their lyrics are almost illogical, but must they also be laughably antiquated: “come hither”?
In a colossal use of poor productional judgment, the lyrics are meant to be the focal point of this album, as the instrumentals are pushed so far into the background that they become virtually irrelevant. The guitars are merely heavy strumming, while drums clatter and keys twinkle for the entirety of the album.
Absolutely nothing about “Screamworks” is fresh, appealing or musically worthwhile.
The problem with reviewing “Screamworks” is that what fails for one song, fails for the entire album. It is a torturous repetition of lyrical motifs (unrequited love hurts, we get it), flat vocals and stale instrumentals.
Heartache seems to be the common motif throughout the album, as the song “Scared to Death” fears admitting love and “Disarm Me (With Your Loneliness),” besides being another classic use of syntax and diction, whines about not being loved. Listeners will quickly learn from this album that heartache brings earaches.
Kevin Stevens can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.