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HIM: Screamworks: Love in Theory & Practice – Review

February 18, 2010
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You remember Chris Isaak: “What a wicked game you play…” = Totally kick-ass song.

How ’bout HIM; ever hear of HIM?  Not Chris Isaak, HIM.  As in, “The band formerly known as His Infernal Majesty“  Ring any bells?  No?  OK, check this out:

Recognize HIM now?  Totally kick-ass cover.  My perception upon hearing it: HIM rocks!

So on February 10th, when their newest album, “Screamworks: Love in Theory & Practice” hit the shelves, I jumped in line online to check it out.

Well, sort of…

*Disclaimer*

One would think that having heard their really kick-ass cover of “Wicked Game” and liking it, that I’d have checked out some of their other songs.  And you’d be right; that would have been the logical thing to do.  However, I must confess that I did not do this.  In fact, it wasn’t until I checked out “Screamworks” that I heard a HIM song other than their cover of “Wicked Game”.  Nevertheless, although I am (arguably) not a HIM fan, I am a music fan, and am therefore qualified to review this album. QED.

First, the Pants “2-Word Review”: Blown Opportunities

Sorry HIM fans, but I’m not impressed.  In fact, when I first started this review, this was my lead-in:

Take everything that’s wrong about Kingdom Come chopped, diced and thoroughly mixed with everything that’s embarassing about Animotion.  Set aside.  In a separate bowl, take the simultaneous knee-drop from Warrant merged with the self-seriousness of Robert “OZN” Rosen’s (vocals) in Ebn Ozn’s “Bag Lady“.  Add 1-cup of Don Dokken strutting down the narrow hallway with George Lynch and Jeff Pilson in “Breaking the Chains” with 2-cups of the melodrama of Joe Leste’ in Bang Tango’s, “Someone like You“.  Combine everything in these two bowls, and bake in a pressure cooker for 19 years with Shotgun Messiah’s, “Living Without You“.  Serve Lame.

However, I didn’t feel that was harsh or accurate enough, so I had to continue.

Below is the song list (in order) from the album, along with my listening notes, as well as with links to the tracks on lala.com, where you can listen for yourself.  Note: Listen to all you can stand the first time around.  Lala will give you one freebie listen, but the next time you try they only give you a 30-second snippet.  This is probably a good thing.


In Venere Veritas
Impression: I think Valo is impersonating Avril Lavigne when this song starts.  I like Avril, but he blows it, and this song starts out “4th and long”.  To be fair, Valo’s voice does break through with all its magnificent rage in the chorus of In Venere Veritas” (1:09 to 1:14) which sounds insanely awesome, but that’s it.  Not enough payout to listen to the whole song.  And what’s with the weird pronunciation of Valo’s “R’s”?

Scared to Death
Cheese Factory.  Starts off with

In the biblical sense and sensibility, let me know you.
I’ll kiss that smile off your face, just say when

…and goes downhill from there.  Not digging it.

Heartkiller
80′s rock.  Pretty sure that’s Bill & Ted’s band “Wyld Stallyns” on the guitar.  More weird R’s.  Not a good song to have a strange pronunciation of R’s: HeaRRRtkilleRRR.  Sounds like “Hocular”.  And this is the hit single?!

Dying Song
Aptly named.  Completely un-noteworthy.  I’m pretty sure Joe Satriani threw this song away back in the late 80′s.

Disarm Me [With Your Loneliness]
Acoustic lead-in promising…until the vocals start.  Another “Bill & Ted” guitar arrangement for the solo.

Love, The Hardest Way
Awkward lyrics, awkward phrasing, awkward keyboard.  Awkward everything.

Katherine Wheel
Cool name for a song.  More weird R’s.  This song has potential until about the 30-second mark, and then it tanks until the chorus, which isn’t that bad.  But then the not-chorus part of the song comes back, and ruins the moment until the chorus comes back.  Kind of a love-hate relationship with this song.  Mostly hate.  Except for the chorus, which I like.  Not ready to commit to love yet.

In The Arms Of Rain
Shoulda been called, “In the Arms of Lame”.  Wanna know why?  Because it’s lame.  Seems like this song should have been the music for the “Walk Off” in Zoolander.

Ode To Solitude
Starts off like Evanesence, then morphs into a Metallica-like guitar riff.  So far so good.  Not too bad actually, but the chorus to this is driving me crazy!  There’s another song with the same (almost) chorus, and I’ve been trying to figure it out for two days.  If you think of it, please comment, because this is wearing me slick.  I don’t know that I’d go so far to give this a thumb up, but I’d probably at least wiggle my thumb a bit.  Guess I’d have to say that this is my “favorite” song on the album.

Shatter Me With Hope
So-so guitars.  Hand wiggle for a vote.  I don’t know…just…not feeling it.

Acoustic Funeral (For Love In Limbo)
Had to make sure I wasn’t listening to the “Pretty in Pink” soundtrack when this song started.  Once the crappy vocals kicked in, I knew I was still listening to “Screamworks”.  Like every other song on this album, you can sense that this song has/had potential, but it just didn’t come through.  Maybe they rushed to get a finished product?  Whatever the cause, these tracks didn’t get…something.  I’m not sure what they’re missing, but I know it isn’t there.

Like St. Valentine
Now this is a guitar intro I can dig!  And…then the lyrics start.  Total buzz-kill.  More of the same.  Turned off at 2:20

The Foreboding Sense Of Impending Happiness
Yep.  This is the mythical “missing track” from “Band of the Hand“.  Whooda thought that HIM found it?

Excuse me while I go wash out my ears.


Dammit boys, I didn’t wanna do this.  I freakin LOVE music.  I love hearing a song that can give you goosebumps on a hot day.  For example, consider Beth Hart’s “One Eyed Chicken“.  Give it a listen, and in particular, pay attention to her vocal power between 3:15 and 4:16.  Fact: Every time I hear that song, it gives me goosebumps.  I’ve literally been sitting in my car on a hot summer day after 3 hours of tennis, sweating like crazy, and get goosebumps upon hearing it.  So it’s not that I’m not able to appreciate good music; I feel that I am.  And I’ve heard enough of what Valo can do to know that the dude has some serious pipes, and he could have done a lot more with some of these shitty tracks.  HIM just didn’t deliver on this album, in my opinion.

Thanks, and as always, I appreciate and and all feedback that agrees with me.  Dissenting and otherwise incorrect comments will be deleted as usual.

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3 Responses to “ HIM: Screamworks: Love in Theory & Practice – Review ”

  1. anncine on February 18, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    I recommend this cover of Wicked Game instead http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCNxYNKhitE :)

  2. Mr. Smarty Pants on February 18, 2010 at 8:45 pm

    Thanks Anne. The Giant Drag version(s) ain’t bad, but I haven’t heard any of them (the Giant Drag covers) that turn-up the smack-down like HIM. I’d say Giant Drag is a solid 2nd place though.

  3. Koala on April 7, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Heh, if you liked Wicked Game, I recommend listening to any of the other albums they produced in these past 10 years after the cover, and not the last one they are ever going to make, as they have so announced. Because of its finality, I feel like the front man Valo decided to do something else than the brooding, “oooh I’m so sad and mysterious” stuff from the past albums – you notice this easiest with the prominence of the keyboards over guitars.

    The new album is weird in that sense. The last song is totally disco, a weird kiss-off to the fans and maybe a sign of things to come after the band stops their album production. But I still like them, even after all these years. Had I heard this album as the first thing ever from them, I might not have given them a second thought!

    Oh, and the “weird” R is probably because that’s how it is most likely pronounced in Latin, and also hey, he’s a Finn – rolling R’s are a Finnish forte (and bane of existence, hence the over-compensation by trying to accomplish an American R…). But yeah. Still doesn’t take away the fact that it’s… I guess weird.

    Thanks for the review!

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