Our Broken Heartagrams: A farewell to HIM.
An article by Gerswin Reynolds
It had been a quiet 4 years since Finnish Band HIM released their final album Tears on Tape in 2013. After a successful tour, HIM returned to the studio to begin work on their follow-up to the album. The result of those studio sessions was not an album, but a breakup:“The spark wasn’t there,” stated Ville Valo in an interview late this year, and that led to the decision to end the band indefinitely. On November 17th, HIM played their final American show in New York City’s Hammerstein Ballroom.
Being one of the most underrated and influential bands of the 21st century, the breakup of HIM is quite monumental: their classic second album, Razorblade Romance in 1999, launched the band into superstardom in their country of Finland. Eventually the album would go double platinum in Finland. With the help of the single, “Join me in death,” HIM shot to number 1 in Austria, Germany, and did exceptionally well in Switzerland.
HIM later invaded the Americas through the exploits of Bam Margera, who discovered the band’s classic 1999 album Razorblade Romance while overseas. Bam, who was known for his skating career and TV shows like Jackass, popularized HIM’s Heartagram logo by placing it in the forefront of everything, including Bam’s own merchandise. HIM’s music was featured in many of Bam’s productions, and soon enough, Heartagram tattoos became the latest rage. By the time HIM released Dark Light in 2005, HIM had become a musical force to be reckoned with.
Musically, they found a balance between light and dark. Their influences include Black Sabbath, Kiss, Billy Idol, Type O Negative, Cathedral, Neil Young, and Finnish folk music. A strange mix for sure, but their glam rock tinged Goth music seeped its way into the ears of millions of fans that rabidly followed Ville Valo and the band across 8 albums. The band is criminally underrated; in their time they combined punk rock, heavy metal, hair metal, glam, and folk music seamlessly…sometimes in a single song. Their songs were intricately layered with moody soundscapes and incredibly expressive guitar solos. Ville’s wide vocal range was equally as impressive. His baritone vocals dug deep into the pits of hell, a subtly powerful tool for someone who could sing you to sleep. Together these 5 friends created a new style of music that was uniquely their own.
While they never reached the level of fame they deserved, the won the appreciation of their peers including members of Killswitch Engage, Cradle of Filth, Lacuna Coil, and Cathedral. But their greatest achievement, being together for 25 years and remaining friends. It’s hard for bands to end amicably, but HIM have been able to do so. For those who grew up in the era of MTV, with Bam and Jackass, or simply with the incredible discography that HIM has crafted, their legacy is one worth remembering.
To Ville, Linde, Mige, Gas, and Burton, thank you for the memories and the great music. I look forward to the future.
SETLIST FOR THE FINAL NEW YORK SHOW
HIM live @ IRVING PLAZA
Bye Bye Love
(The Everly Brothers song)
Buried Alive by Love
Heartache Every Moment
Your Sweet Six Six Six
The Kiss of Dawn
Tears on Tape
Rip Out the Wings of a Butterfly
Gone With the Sin
Soul on Fire
(Chris Isaak cover)
Join Me in Death
It’s All Tears (Drown in This Love)
In Joy and Sorrow
Right Here in My Arms
The Funeral of Hearts
(Billy Idol cover)
When Love and Death Embrace
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