Released domestically for the first time””but nearly two years old in Europe””this release (the group’s third) is ultimately a pitiful, lackluster experience that neither rewards its fans, nor flatters its creators. This is not to dissuade the casual reader from ever examining this band’s work””their debut is a goth-metal classic, on par with anything Sentenced or Katatonia have released. But this tiresome (and uninspired) foray into “goth-pop” is both off-putting and weak. While never exactly renowned for crushing heaviness, HIM’s strength has always been its songwriting. Indeed, that quality has been the saving grace of the band, endearing it to fans in and outside the metal genre. That quality is suspiciously missing here””absent in spades, no less. And whatever value resided in the musicianship is completely overcome by the album’s vapid, overwrought, candy-crust production. Though marketed as “hard music,” this would only be “metal” in Hollywood. The one unlikely gem in this fruity, over-polished mess is Euro single “You Are The One”””a song not even included on the American release! For diehards only, this is something those touchy-feely emo kids would buy.
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