Finnish love metal pioneers, HIM are often mistaken for some poppy band, but in fact the core of their music is guitar-driven heavy metal. On that, they (actually Ville Valo, the songwriter) add some melodic synths or romantic lyrics. Still, to be completely truthful, two out of their six albums are more love than metal: Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights (2001) and Dark Light (2005), the latter being famous for making HIM the first Finnish act to go gold in the US. The title track of this album, which at one point was speculated to be released as a single, marks the highest pop point in their career. It is the one song where Valo’s vocals seem to be genuine happy and the catchy piano tune of the chorus certainly adds to that feeling of benign nostalgia. We have to remember that this song was written when he was having a difficult time being the “miserable poet”, i.e. the days of his highly-publicized engagement to a Finnish TV star. But, back to the sound, the guitars are loud, but not heavy and the multi-layered direction they adopted for the record really hits home. All sorts of synth sighs form a subtle sonic spectre, that reminds us of the black-sabbathy-horror aspect of HIM. Still, it is that hypnotic Twin Peaks spookyness, that Ville Valo often cites as an influence, not something 666-esque.
The light is definitely in the music, so the dark is underlined through the lyrics, which speak of “the poison tears of a life denied” and “To learn how to die, In peace with her God”. They are inspired by a Norwegian book of the same title, authored by Mette Newth. It is the story of a 13 year old girl dying of leprosy in a miserable hospital. Hence, the female character in the song, whose fears are blinded by the dark light, and hence the gentle lullaby melody. Dark Light wasn’t played live, maybe because it’s so un-rock for a love metal band, but it surely represents a special and unique moment in HIM’s history and for that alone, should get your attention.