Dark Light

Studio Album by released in 2005
Dark Light's tracklist:
Vampire Heart
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Rip Out the Wings of a Butterfly
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Under the Rose
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Killing Loneliness
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Dark Light
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Behind the Crimson Door
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The Face of God
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Drunk on Shadows
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Play Dead
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In the Nightside of Eden
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Venus (In Our Blood)
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The Cage
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Dark Light review

Formed in Finland in the midst of 1995, H.I.M. (His Infernal Majesty) portrayed a true quest for the reinvention of goth rock. Setting as their main artistic ambition the creation of songs in the similar path of bands such as Sisters of Mercy and the Mission U.K., H.I.M. used a distinct compound of scowling melodies and mystical love stories' inspired lyrics to mark their musical ground. Produced by Tim Palmer (Tin Machine, U2), Dark Light is the band's first album with Warner Records and consequently their most commercial collection yet. Dynamic anthems such as Rip Out The Wings Of A Butterfly sound like the bastard offspring of Robert Smith (The Cure) and Bryan Ferry, while old-school fans, who prefer the band's sinister side, will be relieved to find industrial juggernauts such as In The Night-Side Of Eden. Add to these the haunting piano-led ballad Killing Loneliness and the dramatic radio-friendly title track, and H.I.M. have made their most complete album to date.

Since Love Metal summed up the band so perfectly in 2004, Dark Light needed to be the beginning of the next chapter for the goth rock superstars, a crucial release in determining the band's future. The good news for fans is that they've largely succeeded. Just like its predecessor, Dark Light evokes the powerful sense of identity and cohesion that has allowed the band to shamelessly rip-off all manner of classic rock moments yet always sound like themselves. And if you want to know what it's like, well it's all in the title. The album is Dark. H.I.M. have taken all the stoner-rock riffage on Love Metal, gone a little more doom-laden with the guitars and added plenty of horror-movie atmospherics to boot. Vampire Heart kicks off with a menacing intro and closes with a monster of a riff that wouldn't be out of place on a Cathedral record. The intro to Under The Rose could almost be Seventh Son-era Iron Maiden, and again it's a surprisingly heavy number in places. The album is also Light. The uptempo, poppy, emotional side of H.I.M. has been stretched. However contradictory this may seem given the aforementioned extra heaviness, this makes Dark Light easily H.I.M.'s most accessible album to date. Play Dead and Dark Light are both classic lighters-aloft ballads, the latter reinterpreting the Twin Peaks theme with a disarmingly sentimental piano motif. The jolly, twiddly riff from (Rip Out The) Wings Of A Butterfly and the hook to epic closer In The Night Side Of Eden also bring out this dreamy, wistful side of H.I.M.'s music, constantly countering the darker edges.

This should all make for an album of contradictions, but it doesn't, thanks to the third element –the H.I.M. sound itself. Once all the light fills and dark riffs are done, the actual songs of Dark Light are classic H.I.M. – all Bon Jovi chuggy guitars, soaring choruses, random goth lyrics that may or may not mean anything at all, and Ville Valo's trademark irreverent humor. It's been a rocky road to success but spooky Finnish goth rockers H.I.M. are finally fulfilling their potential. Don't be put off by the pseudo-Satanic imagery and face paint; Ville Valo's music is accessible to all types of rock fans.