HIM / Bleeding Through Live In Vancouver: Nov. 9, 2007

Spread the metal:

HIM / Bleeding Through
Friday, November 9, 2007
The Croatian Cultural Centre
Vancouver, BC  Canada


***Live Review & All Photos by Lord of The Wasteland

Metal…not metal.  Metal…not metal.

With HIM, Finland’s purveyors of “love metal,” headlining over Orange County metalcore kings, Bleeding Through, just how “metal” this bill actually was remains open for debate.  Despite their claims of Black Sabbath worship, HIM’s music owes more to the Goth and shoegazer movement of the U.K. than it does metal and Bleeding Through is well-footed in the hardcore scene, so the genre sticklers can voice their puerile rage over the placement of this review as they see fit.

This was an all-ages show but there was a noticeable lack of underage kids scuttling about in nervous packs that usually comes along with shows at The Croatian Cultural Centre.  The radically different bands may have had something to with it, as well, but the sold-out show seemed to be populated more by the twenty- to thirty-year old set than those who got dropped off by their parents a block away so their friends don’t see them.  Bleeding Through vocalist Brendan Schieppati seemed concerned that the band would scare the older crowd.  Whether he was being facetious or not, Schieppati made several remarks that they are just a metal band who likes to have fun and that “everybody needs a little metal” in their lives.  The band brought out its more melodic material (out of concern for the less metallic crowd of HIM, I suppose) for their ten-song, forty-five minute set, most of which was drawn from last year’s THE TRUTH release.  Founding member and guitarist Scott Danough recently left the band but his replacement, former I Killed The Prom Queen axeman, Jona Weinhofen, was nowhere to be seen.  Brian Leppke handled full guitar duties and no reason was given for Weinhofen’s absence.  Bleeding Through’s enchanting keyboardist, Marta Peterson, challenged my professionalism and made it difficult not to plant myself in front of her position on stage and take 150 pictures of her while forgetting about the rest of the band completely.  Her keyboards add so much to the band’s music and are clearly the key factor that separates Bleeding Through from the rest of the metalcore pack.  Bleeding Through was one of the first bands to take the ball and run with it and the string of copycat bands currently trying to ride their coattails is endless.  With tracks like “Revenge I Seek,” “Kill To Believe,” “Tragedy of Empty Streets” and the vicious “For Love and Failing” peppering their setlist, it is no wonder why, either.  Expertly mixing melody and aggression with crushing breakdowns and Marta’s ambient keys, the end result is fodder for adrenaline-fuelled moshpits but stays thoroughly enjoyable at the same time.

Love In Slow Motion
Tragedy of Empty Streets
On Wings of Lead
For Love and Failing
The Pain Killer
Revenge I Seek
Kill To Believe

Where Bleeding Through’s set was energetic, fast-paced and an ass-kicking good time, HIM’s was quite the opposite.  The forty-minute delay due to a mysterious band member’s “accident” backstage left the crowd unruly and frustrated.  I was beginning to think HIM was going to cancel as the seemingly endless delay continued on before a paramedic emerged from the shadows giving a subtle thumbs up to the production team.  Moments later, drummer Mika Karppinen settled in behind his plexiglass-enclosed drum kit and things finally got moving.  Guitarist Mikko Lindstrom, whose amazing dreadlocks rival those of Shadows Fall’s Brian Fair, immediately tore into the riff of “Passion’s Killing Floor” off HIM’s latest CD, VENUS DOOM.  But once vocalist Ville Valo came out, the crowd went berserk.  Dressed in a spiffy, shiny suit, Valo chain-smoked his way through HIM’s ninety-minute set offering very little crowd banter and few song introductions.  The leg-and-corset lamps (I couldn’t help but think of the holiday movie, A CHRISTMAS STORY) that surrounded the stage were a great touch, though, as the crowd displayed the band’s trademark “heartagram” in appreciation at every turn.  Residing somewhere between the goth/glam of fellow countrymen The 69 Eyes and Sentenced’s suicide rock, HIM’s self-described “love metal” embraces the dark imagery and morbid subjects of Valo’s lyrics, reflecting the tortured artist cliché to a fault (the recording process behind VENUS DOOM was so stressful, it allegedly landed the singer in detox and a mental institution).  VENUS DOOM is a more guitar-driven album than the band has ever released yet Mika Karppinen’s kick drum was so overbearing, it nearly drowned out Mikko Lindstrom’s guitar entirely.  Five tracks from the new album were played live and show real potential.  “Passion’s Killing Floor” is very catchy, “Bleed Well” features an amazing riff and the slow, doomy pace of “Sleepwalking Past Hope” (which Valo dedicated to Black Sabbath and said “without them, we wouldn’t exist”) is emotive musical sorrow at its finest.  The driving groove of “Vampire Heart” and the blistering guitar intro to “Killing Loneliness” from 2005’s DARK LIGHT kept the crowd moving while early favourites like “Your Sweet Six Six Six” and “Wicked Game” gave many long-time fans something to get excited about.  For HIM fans—and there were many in attendance—the band’s set seemed to be within sight of musical nirvana and HIM certainly did cover a lot of ground in their ninety-minute, seventeen-song set.  But as far as entertainment value for the casual fan, I cannot recall seeing a less-intriguing band ever before, which was a bit of a letdown.

Passion’s Killing Floor
Wings of a Butterfly
Buried Alive By Love
Wicked Game
The Kiss of Dawn
Vampire Heart
Poison Girl
Dead Lovers’ Lane
Join Me In Death
It’s All Tears (Drown In This Love)
Sleepwalking Past Hope
Killing Loneliness
Soul On Fire
Your Sweet Six Six Six
Bleed Well
Right Here In My Arms
The Funeral of Hearts

Having seen Bleeding Through before, they never impressed me all that much, so maybe it was the sheer boredom of HIM washing over me that made their set all that more appealing.  Whatever the case, the SoCal metalcore stalwarts kicked the asses of all the “heartagram” flashers on this night and proved, as Brendan Schieppati so eloquently stated, “everybody needs a little metal” in their lives.

***Thanks to Jessica at Live Nation for the press pass.

HIM—Official Site
Bleeding Through—Official Site