HIM is a Finnish gothic rock band from Helsinki, Finland. Formed in 1991 by vocalist Ville Valo and bassist Mikko "Mige" Paananen under the name His Infernal Majesty, the band broke-up in 1993 however, before being reformed in 1995 by Valo and guitarist Mikko "Linde" Lindström. After being rejoined by Mige, as well new additions keyboardist Antto Melasniemi and drummer Juhana "Pätkä" Rantala, the band, now called HIM, released their debut album Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666 in 1997. In 2000, now with drummer Mika "Gas Lipstick" Karppinen and keyboardist Juska Salminen, the band released the album Razorblade Romance, which reached the number one spot in Finland, Austria and Germany. Its first single, "Join Me in Death", also charted at number one in Finland and Germany, eventually going platinum and gold respectively. Following the addition of Janne "Burton" Puurtinen on keyboards, HIM released Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights and Love Metal in 2001 and 2003 respectively. Both cracked the top ten in several countries, and allowed the band to tour the United Kingdom and the United States for the first time.
In 2005, HIM released Dark Light, which became the group's most commercially successful album to date, charting in fifteen countries. With Dark Light, HIM also became the first Finnish group to receive a gold record in the US. In 2007, HIM released Venus Doom, the making of which was marred by problems in Valo's personal life. Despite this, the album gave the band their highest chart position in the US at number twelve. After 2010's Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice, HIM went on hiatus as drummer Gas Lipstick took medical leave. Following several months of uncertainty, the band regrouped and eventually released the album Tears on Tape in 2013. In 2015, Gas Lipstick announced his departure from the band to pursue other musical projects, and was subsequently replaced by Jukka "Kosmo" Kröger. On 5 March 2017, HIM announced that the band would be disbanding following a farewell tour in 2017. The band will play their final show on New Year's Eve 2017 as a part of their annual Helldone Festival.
HIM is internationally one of the most commercially successful Finnish bands of all time, with sales of over ten million records. The band have released eight studio albums, five compilations, three video releases, two box sets, along with one live and one remix album. HIM's music and their logo, the heartagram, have also appeared in several films and TV series, such as The Thirteenth Floor, Transformers, Viva La Bam and LA Ink.
Early years (1991–1996)
The first incarnation of HIM was formed in 1991 by Ville Valo and Mikko "Mige" Paananen in Helsinki, Finland. Valo played six-string bass, which substituted for guitar, while Mige also played bass, and drummers Sami "Juippi" Jokilehto and Juha Tarvonen rounded out the initial line-up. Dubbed His Infernal Majesty, other names considered for the band included Black Earth, Black Salem and Kafferi. The band recorded a few demos, and played their first and only show on New Year's Eve 1992 at the Semifinal in Helsinki, before breaking up when Mige began his national military service in 1993. After a few years of inactivity, His Infernal Majesty was reformed by Valo and guitarist Mikko "Linde" Lindström. Together they recorded a four-track demo, where Valo played drums and sang, while Linde handled guitar and bass. Soon thereafter, Mige rejoined the newly reformed His Infernal Majesty, as did drummer Juhana "Pätkä" Rantala. After several more demos, the band were signed to BMG by production manager Asko Kallonen, after hearing their cover of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game".
In 1996, the band, now called HIM, completed the EP 666 Ways to Love: Prologue, with Valo on vocals, Mige on bass, Linde on guitar, and Pätkä on drums, as well as another guitarist Oskari "Oki" Kymäläinen, who was let go from the band before the EP's release. Produced by Hiili Hiilesmaa, 666 Ways to Love: Prologue was released in October 1996, debuting at number sixteen on the Finnish Singles Chart, peaking at number nine five weeks later. A music video, the band's first, was also shot for "Wicked Game".
Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666 and Razorblade Romance (1997–2000)
Following the addition of keyboardist Antto Melasniemi, HIM spent the summer of 1997 recording their debut album with producer Hiili Hiilesmaa. Due to the band's minimal studio experience, Valo later credited Hiilesmaa for helping "build HIM's sound", calling him the honorary sixth member of the band. Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666 was released in Finland on 3 November 1997 and internationally a year later. The album peaked at number four on the Finnish Album Chart and at number 56 on the German Album Chart. The singles "When Love and Death Embrace" and "Your Sweet 666" also cracked the top ten, with the former receiving a music video as well. A new video for "Wicked Game" was also produced in Germany. Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666 received positive reviews from critics, with Antti J. Ravelin of AllMusic stating that the album "combines metal with '80s rock and some goth influences, and the album as a whole has a very diverse sound." He concluded by saying: "Greatest Lovesongs, Vol. 666 succeeds in pleasing everyone, whether they're into rock or pop." Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666 would eventually go gold and later platinum in Finland. HIM also went on to win "Newcomer of the Year" and "Debut Album of the Year" at the 1997 Finnish Emma Awards. The official supporting tour for Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666 began in mid-December 1997 at the Maxim in Kuopio.
Prior HIM's first international tour, keyboardist Antto Melasniemi was replaced by Jussi-Mikko "Juska" Salminen. After returning to Finland, HIM fired Pätkä and replaced him with Mika "Gas Lipstick" Karppinen. In January 1999, HIM began work on their follow-up to Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666, once again with producer Hiili Hiilesmaa. These sessions proved to be unsuccessful however, and the band relocated to Rockfield, Wales with producer John Fryer to begin work on their second album. In November 1999, HIM released the single "Join Me in Death", which peaked at number one in Finland and Germany, number two in Austria, and number eight in Switzerland, among others. Two music videos were also produced for the single, one of which featured scenes from the film The Thirteenth Floor, in which the song was also included. "Join Me in Death" would eventually go platinum in Finland and gold in Germany and Austria. HIM also appeared on the German edition of Top of the Pops promoting the single, as well as in the music video for "Hunningolla" by Neljä Ruusua the same year. HIM were awarded "Export of the Year" at the 1999 Emma Awards, and on 31 December 1999, the band played at the Tavastia Club in Helsinki, Finland, which turned into a New Year's tradition for the band.
Razorblade Romance was released on 24 January 2000, peaking at number one in Finland, Austria and Germany, number eight in Switzerland, and at number 78 in the Netherlands. The album eventually went double platinum in Finland, triple gold in Germany, and gold in Austria. Four further singles were released from the album, all of which reached the top five on the Finnish Singles Chart. All singles also received music videos, with two being produced for "Gone with the Sin", while another was filmed for "Wicked Game", this time in England. Razorblade Romance was mostly well received by critics. Soundi gave the album four out of five stars, and Borivoj Krgin of Blabbermouth.net called it "yet another amazingly crafted album from Europe's best-kept secret." Antti J. Ravelin of Allmusic was mixed in his review however, calling the album over-produced, but still commending the songwriting. Nevertheless, HIM were awarded "Band of the Year", and "Album of the Year" for Razorblade Romance at the 2000 Emma Awards, as well as the "Viewers' Choice Award" and "Video of the Year" for "Join Me in Death" at the 2000 VIVA Comet Awards. During the supporting tour for Razorblade Romance, HIM played their first shows in the United Kingdom, starting at The Garage in London. The touring cycle and promotional work for the album exhausted the band, to the point where Valo nearly jumped off the balcony of a hotel, before being pulled back by friends, while Salminen ended up in the emergency room after a prank gone wrong. This resulted in HIM nearly breaking-up, until things settled down, and the band began rehearsing for another album.
Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights and Love Metal (2001–2004)
In the fall of 2000, HIM began demoing material for their third album with producer T.T. Oksala. The band initially wished to release these recordings as the new album, but after resistance from BMG, producer Kevin Shirley was brought on board to produce some of the forthcoming album. Around this time keyboardist Juska Salminen was also replaced by Janne "Burton" Puurtinen, with whom the band had already performed one sow in the mid-nineties, playing Type O Negative covers. The recording process for the band's third album took approximately eleven months, with Valo citing outside influences within the industry and the extended time-frame having too great of an effect on the material. He elaborated, stating: "When we started recording the third album, we were into stoner rock and Black Sabbath [...] At the end we were into Neil Young and it shows on the record." Despite these problems, HIM's third album Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights was released on 24 August 2001, and peaked at number one in Finland and Austria, and at number two in Germany and Switzerland, later going platinum in Finland and gold in Austria. Three singles were released from the album, all of which reached the top five in Finland, and received music videos.
Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights received mixed reviews, with Allmusic calling it "way too clean" and "utterly boring". Tero Alanko of Soundi echoed this, saying that the album is "ideal music for girls, who don't dig the music, but Ville Valo's looks and his lyrics' decadent imagery." Borivoj Krgin was more positive in his review however, stating that "in purely artistic and commercial terms [...] HIM have made the logical follow-up album to one of last year's highlights, and they continue to cement their reputation as one of the most unique and consistent rock acts around." In 2001, HIM were also featured on the Turbonegro tribute album Alpha Motherfuckers, performing the song "Rendezvous with Anus", and were once again named "Export of the Year" at the 2001 Emma Awards, and received the "Viewers' Choice Award" at the VIVA Comet Awards. In 2002, HIM were involved in a dispute over the rights to their name in the United States, as the moniker "HIM" was already owned by a drummer from a Chicago jazz fusion band of the same name. This meant that HIM was renamed HER in the US, until a settlement was eventually reached between the two parties, which allowed both to retain the name HIM. On 7 October 2002, HIM released The Single Collection, a set containing all of the band's singles, as well as a previously unreleased single of "It's All Tears". Also in October 2002, Synnin viemää, the band's official biography written by J. K. Juntunen, was released.
The supporting tour for Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights nearly resulted in the band breaking-up once again, but also saw HIM playing the United States for the first time; a one-off show organized by professional skateboarder and television personality Bam Margera. Following a two month break in early 2002, HIM regrouped and began rehearsing material for another album. Valo later credited the tour for Deep Shadow and Brilliant Highlights for bringing the band closer together, which culminated in their fourth album, entitled Love Metal. The album saw HIM once again working with producer Hiili Hiilesmaa, and was viewed by the band as a reaction to the difficulties they faced during Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights. According to Valo: "After what we considered a disappointment with Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights, because there were so many chefs in the kitchen, we wanted to be a band [...] that we control what we do, and everybody else can fuck-off." Love Metal was also the band's first album to make prominent use of the band's logo, the heartagram, on its cover, which Valo called "a statement of intent [...] musically, visually and ideologically."
Love Metal was released on 11 April 2003, and reached the top five in four countries, peaking at number one in Finland and Germany. It also became the band's first album to chart in the UK, at number 55. Love Metal went platinum in Finland and gold in Germany, and three singles were also released, with "The Funeral of Hearts" peaking at number one in Finland, number five in Germany, and number fifteen in the UK, among others. Music videos for all three singles were also produced, two of which, "Buried Alive by Love" and "The Sacrament", were directed by Bam Margera. The former of the two also featured American actress Juliette Lewis. "The Funeral of Hearts" was later awarded "Best Video" at the 2004 Kerrang! Awards. Love Metal was also well received by critics, with Petri Silas of Soundi giving it three out of five stars, while Allmusic's Rob Theakston stated that "the songwriting is as strong as it has been in quite some time and a newly found sense of urgency keeps the record going at a well-tempered pace."
Following the release of Love Metal, HIM began their first tour of the US, which was entirely sold-out. In August 2003, it was announced that HIM had parted ways with BMG, after fulfilling their contractual obligations to the label. HIM were also planning on releasing a live album, tentatively titled Live Metal, in November 2003, but the album was ultimately scrapped, in favor of starting work on new material. In March 2004, HIM released And Love Said No: The Greatest Hits 1997–2004, which peaked at number two in Finland, number five in Germany, number nine in Austria, and number 30 in the UK, later going gold in Finland. Aside from previously released material, the collection also included two new songs; "And Love Said No", and a cover of Neil Diamond's "Solitary Man". Both were given music videos, with Bam Margera once again directing. "Solitary Man" peaked at number nine on the UK Singles Chart and number two in Finland, while "And Love Said No" took the top spot on the Finnish Singles Chart. In September 2004, HIM announced they had signed a new worldwide recording deal with Sire Records. While Sire would handle releases in Europe, the US, Japan and Australia, in Finland HIM's future recordings would be released through the band's own Heartagram label. On 7 December 2004, HIM released The Video Collection: 1997–2003, a set of the band's music videos.
Dark Light and Venus Doom (2005–2008)
On 17 January 2005, HIM, along with The Rasmus, The 69 Eyes, Apocalyptica and Negative, performed at the Yhteinen ASIA -benefit concert for victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami. Soon thereafter HIM relocated to Los Angeles to begin work on their fifth studio album with producer Tim Palmer. Also in January 2005, HIM were voted "Band of the Year" by the readers of Metal Hammer -magazine. In March 2005, Himmeetä valoa, a documentary about the band, saw its premiere on Yle TV2. In May 2005, HIM released Love Metal Archives Vol. I, a collection of music videos, live performances, interviews and other bonus material. The collection debuted at number one in Finland, and at number two and number fifteen on the German DVD and Album Chart respectively. Love Metal Archives Vol. I would eventually go gold in Finland. On 26 September 2005, HIM released their fifth studio album Dark Light, which became the group's most successful album to date, going platinum in Finland, and gold in Germany, the UK, and the US. The album charted in sixteen countries, including in the top ten in Finland, Greece, Austria, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden and Switzerland. Four singles were released, with "Wings of a Butterfly" peaking at number one in Finland and charting in twelve other countries, while "Killing Loneliness" peaked at number two in their home country. Music videos were also produced for "Wings of a Butterfly" and "Killing Loneliness", with the latter receiving two, one of which featured American tattoo-artist and television personality Kat Von D.
Dark Light received mostly positive reviews from critics. At Metacritic the album has received an average score of 52 out of 100, based on 10 reviews. Q Magazine called the album "a collection of irresistible pop-rock anthems", while NME called it "wimpy". AllMusic also called the album "glossy and user-friendly". Despite this, Dark Light was named "Rock Album of the Year" at 2005 Emma Awards, with "Wings of a Butterfly" also receiving the award for "Song of the Year". In December 2005, HIM expanded their annual New Year's Eve show into a three day festival, and renamed it Helldone, after their booking agent Tiina Welldone. In January 2006, HIM were forced to postpone a tour of the UK and Ireland, after Linde Lindström fractured his wrist bone following Helldone. The following March, HIM embarked on their first Australian tour. In September 2006, HIM cancelled a forthcoming North American tour, in order to begin work on a new album. In November 2006, HIM released Uneasy Listening Vol. 1, which featured various alternate versions of previously released material. The album peaked at number seven in Finland, while the double single "In Joy and Sorrow / Pretending" also reached number one.
In February 2007, HIM began recording their sixth album at Finnvox Studios, reuniting with producers Hiili Hiilesmaa and Tim Palmer. The making-of the album was plagued with problems Valo was facing in his personal life. Among other things, Valo's alcohol abuse had worsened, with him reportedly vomiting and defecating blood at one point. All these issues came to a head, when Valo suffered a nervous breakdown during the recording process. According to Valo, he did manage to recover, until the mixing stage, when he began drinking again. Eventually Valo was admitted to the Promises Rehabilitation Clinic in Malibu by the band's manager Seppo Vesterinen. In April 2007, HIM released Uneasy Listening Vol. 2, which peaked at number twelve in Finland. In May 2007, the band's upcoming album was pushed back from a previously announced 10 July release to September. From 25 July to 3 September 2007, HIM toured the US with Linkin Park on their Projekt Revolution Tour, which also included My Chemical Romance, Taking Back Sunday and Placebo. Prior to the beginning of the tour, HIM held a contest for fans to win a trip to meet the band at tour's opening date in Seattle. The winners of the contest would also be featured on a forthcoming live DVD. HIM also played a number of concerts in the summer of 2007 opening for Metallica, including a show at Wembley Stadium in London, England.
On 14 September 2007, HIM released their sixth studio album Venus Doom. The album broke the top ten in Finland, Germany, Switzerland and Austria, and later went gold in their home country. The album also gave the band their highest chart position to date in the US at number twelve. "The Kiss of Dawn" (which peaked at number two in Finland) and "Bleed Well" were also released as singles, both of which received music videos. The song "Passion's Killing Floor" was also featured on the soundtrack album to the 2007 film Transformers. Venus Doom was well received by critics, with a score of 67 out of 100 at Metacritic. Spin called the album "[maybe] the year's heaviest, creepiest, and sexiest hard-rock group effort", while NME called it "an extremely well-executed pop-metal album." Jason Lymangrover of AllMusic, who gave the album three-and-a-half stars out of five, also felt that the album found the band "back on track and sounding more metal than ever." Venus Doom was also later nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package. In January 2008, HIM released Uneasy Listening Vol. 1 & 2, a set containing both previously released Uneasy Listening -albums. During supporting tour for Venus Doom, HIM shot and recorded the live album Digital Versatile Doom at the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles, California. Released on 29 April 2008, the album peaked at number ten in Finland. The 2008 edition of Helldone was expanded into a tour, which took the festival around Finland, before returning to the Tavastia Club on 31 December.
Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice and Tears on Tape (2009–2014)
In 2009, HIM began work on their seventh studio album with producer Matt Squire. Titled Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice, the album was the band's first that Ville Valo worked on completely sober, which resulted in the group rehearsing more than ever before. Released on 8 February 2010, Screamworks charted in ten countries, peaking at number two in Finland, number four in Germany, number seven in Austria and Switzerland, and number 25 in the US. The album also reached number one on the UK Rock & Metal Albums Charts, and went gold in Finland. "Heartkiller" and "Scared to Death" were released as singles, with both receiving music videos, and "Heartkiller" charting at number five in Finland. Screamworks was once again mostly well received by critics, with a score of 61 out of 100 on Metacritic. Alternative Press described the album as "ultimately successful in its blending of melody and muscle", while Billboard felt it was "a mixed bag, but an appealingly bold one." On 7 December 2010, HIM released SWRMXS, a remix album of Screamworks, done in collaboration with various different artists, such as Tiësto, Morgan Page and Salem. Also in 2010, HIM announced that Helldone would not be taking place that year, with the band opting to take a break.
In March 2011, HIM announced they had parted ways with Sire Records, leaving the band without a label. In the summer of 2011, HIM began work on their eight studio album, but rehearsals were cut short after Gas Lipstick was diagnosed with a repetitive stress injury and nerve damage in his hands. This left the band in limbo, unsure whether they would break-up or find a replacement for Gas. The band opted to wait and see if Gas' condition improved, and after eight months the band regrouped and resumed work on their next album. Valo later credited Gas' recovery for revitalizing the band after a period of uncertainty following his injury. In October 2012, HIM released the compilation album XX – Two Decades of Love Metal. Aside from previously released material, the collection also featured one new track; a cover of Ké's "Strange World", which also received a music video. "Strange World" was originally scheduled to be released as a single on 21 September 2012, but due to an online leak, the release had to be pushed up. XX – Two Decades of Love Metal peaked at number four in Finland, while "Strange World" reached number nineteen. HIM also brought back the annual Helldone Festival in 2012, after a two year hiatus.
In February 2013, HIM announced that Razor & Tie, Double Cross and Universal Music would handle distribution in North America, the UK and Ireland, and Europe respectively for the band's forthcoming album, which was financed by the band themselves. On 26 April 2013, HIM released their eight studio album Tears on Tape, which was once again produced by Hiili Hiilesmaa, and mixed by Tim Palmer. Tears on Tape charted in nine countries, peaking at number two in Finland and Germany, number seven in Austria, and at number fifteen in the US. The title-track, "Into the Night" and "All Lips Go Blue" were released as singles, all of which received music videos. The former two were directed by Stefan Lindfors, with whom the band had previously collaborated on the video for "The Funeral of Hearts". HIM and Lindfors were later awarded "Video of the Year" for "Into the Night", at Noisecreep's first annual Creepies Awards. Tears on Tape received mostly positive reviews, scoring 67 out of 100 at Metacritic. Classic Rock called the album "a glorious return to form for one of the world's most peculiarly successful bands", which was echoed by Alternative Press, who stated that "within HIM's impressive canon, it's among their best." Kerrang! was less-favorable in its review, stating that "Tears On Tape isn't bad [...] it's just not as seductive as HIM can be."
HIM were scheduled to begin their North American tour in support of Tears on Tape on 3 May 2013, but the tour was cancelled after Ville Valo suffered a severe asthma attack and was diagnosed with presumptive pneumonia. HIM were able to tour the US later in the year, as a part of the Rock Allegiance Tour, with Volbeat, All That Remains and Airbourne. At the 2013 Revolver Golden Gods Awards, HIM received the award for "Most Dedicated Fans". In March 2014, the band embarked on their first South American tour. Also in March 2014, HIM's first four albums were digitally reissued in the US by The End Records. In May 2014, HIM were scheduled to perform their first concerts in China, but the first show in Shanghai was cut short by local authorities, while the second in Beijing was cancelled altogether, because of bad weather conditions. In November 2014, HIM released Lashes to Ashes, Lust to Dust: A Vinyl Retrospective '96-'03, a box set containing the band's first four albums, along with 666 Ways To Love: Prologue, on 180-gram vinyl. In December 2014, HIM supported Fields of the Nephilim at their 30th anniversary shows in London, England.
Final years and disbandment (2015–2017)
In January 2015, Gas Lipstick announced his departure from HIM, after 16 years with the band. In his announcement, Gas stated that "there is no drama, bad blood or any negativity involved in my departure. I simply feel that it's time for me to move on as a musician." In July 2015, HIM made their live debut following Gas' departure, with drummer Jukka "Kosmo" Kröger at a surprise show at Qstock in Oulu, Finland. Valo later stated that the band would begin work on a new album eventually, but no release date had been set. On 5 December 2015, HIM performed at Knotfest in Toluca, Mexico, with Slipknot, Megadeth, and Lamb of God, among others. HIM took a break in 2016, during which time Lindström, Mige and Burton reunited as Daniel Lioneye, while Valo released his first solo single and made several guest appearances on other artists' releases. Due to these other projects, HIM again opted to cancel the Helldone Festival for that year.
In October 2016, it was announced that HIM would be headlining the Tuska Open Air Metal Festival in 2017, the band's first outdoor concert in Helsinki. In January 2017, HIM were also announced as the headliner of Miljoona Rock, held in Tuuri, Finland, on 18 July 2017. On 5 March 2017, HIM announced the band would be disbanding following a farewell tour that same year. In the announcement, Valo stated: "After quarter of a century [sic] of love and metal intertwined we sincerely feel HIM has run its unnatural course and adieus must be said in order to make way for sights, scents and sounds yet unexplored. We completed the pattern, solved the puzzle and turned the key. Thank you." Valo further elaborated on the band's decision to call it quits later, stating: "We got together and started playing some songs and thinking whats next [...] We felt like the new material wasn't taking flight. We got along well together, but something was lacking. The stars weren't in alignment." He also went on to say that: "We felt like there was nothing left to give collectively. It was fun playing the old songs, everybody got along well together, but that spark was missing." Valo didn't rule-out the possibility of the band reuniting in the future, stating: "The good thing about this is that there's no drama [...] So it doesn't hurt the chances."
On 24 May 2017, it was announced that a photo exhibition by Ville Juurikkala, titled HIM: Right Here In My Eyes, would be held at the Helsinki Art Museum from 15 June to 3 July, featuring previously unseen photographs of the band preparing for their farewell tour. In November 2017, the exhibition was also held at the Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York City. HIM began their Bang and Whimper 2017 - The Farewell Tour on 14 June 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. The band will play their final show on New Year's Eve 2017 as a part of the Helldone Festival.
As the main songwriter of HIM, vocalist Ville Valo's songs largely deal with themes of love. When discussing his songwriting process, Valo explained: "I didn't know how to cope with the world. Then I found an instrument, and through that I realized, that I am able to cope with the world and its evils, a bit better, through writing songs." When approaching lyrics, Valo has stated that "I feel like there is no subject more important for a song than relationships. It's the only thing that moves me." Valo also takes inspiration from literature, explaining: "As a guy who writes songs, I get excited about an idea, or a book, or a sentence. I don't necessarily get excited about the whole of Tolkien, I just get excited about Uruk-hai. Just a little detail that just makes my mind work overdrive." Valo's lyrics have been described as "oozing with blood-dripping hearts and gothic melodrama".
Critics have referred to the music of HIM as gothic rock, gothic metal, alternative rock, alternative metal, and dark rock. The band themselves have referred to their music as "love metal", the title of their fourth studio album. According to Ville Valo, the term "love metal" was coined as a response to people having difficulties categorizing their music. In regards to HIM being labeled a "goth band", Valo responded by stating: "We can't do anything about that [label], but I think we are a special shade of goth, more tender than others. In Finnish tradition, our music is very melancholic." Valo has described HIM's sound as "sentimental, hard-hitting rock music". According to Valo, since the beginning the band's intent was to combine more melodic and melancholic elements, with heavier influences. Valo has often cited Black Sabbath and Type O Negative as HIM's biggest influences. Some of the band's further influences include Paradise Lost, Anathema, My Dying Bride, Cathedral, Electric Wizard, Monster Magnet and Norwegian black metal. Regarding HIM's sound, Valo has also stated that: "We never tried to claim that we have reinvented the wheel of rock 'n' roll. We've always been proud to be the torchbearers for Sabbath, Type O, Paradise Lost and Anathema, and a lot of those bands." Vesa Sirén of Helsingin Sanomat described the band's music as achieving "major crossover appeal" by combining "traditional Finnish melancholia", with "gothic lyrics, walls of metal guitars, and keyboard riffs."
On their debut album, Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666, HIM's sound was viewed as a combination of heavy metal and 1980s rock and goth music. These influences were further explored on Razorblade Romance, which featured less focus on guitar, in favor of a sleeker production and a more melodic sound. HIM continued to explore a more commercial sound on their third album Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights, which was met with mixed reactions. HIM's fourth album Love Metal is widely viewed by the band as the album where they found their own sound, taking inspiration from old favorites, such as Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin and Iggy Pop. Dark Light was the band's breakthrough album in the United States, and once again featured a glossier production. According to Valo, 2007's Venus Doom was written with the intent of creating a much heavier and darker follow-up, influenced by more early favorites such as My Dying Bride, Anathema and Paradise Lost. Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice took influences from bands of the 1980s, such as a-ha, Depeche Mode and The Cult, while Tears on Tape saw HIM returning to their roots, combining elements from their sound on each song, as opposed to having "a fast song followed by a slow song". Valo described Tears on Tape as a combination of Black Sabbath, The Smashing Pumpkins and Roy Orbison.
A central of part of HIM's image has been the heartagram. The heartagram is the trademarked symbol of the band, which was created by vocalist Ville Valo on his twentieth birthday in 1996. A combination of a heart and a pentagram, the heartagram is meant to represent the juxtaposition of "the soft and the hard, the male and the female, the yin and the yang" according to Valo. Musically the heart is also meant to represent the softer side of the band, while the pentagram symbolizes their heavier influences. This juxtaposition was also prevalent in the band's album titles. On their first album, HIM used a heart with "666" inside it as their logo, which Valo later felt was "a bit boring". The heartagram was first predominantly used on the cover of HIM's 2003 album Love Metal, and has since appeared on numerous releases from the band. Valo has later stated that the heartagram "is probably the best thing I've ever come-up with", and that it's "worth a lot more than money" and is "bigger than our band". The heartagram has also made several appearances on TV, including Charmed, LA Ink, Viva La Bam, and Criminal Minds.
In the band's early days, HIM's image was heavily characterized by occult and satanic imagery. The use of the number "666" was prominent in lyrics, as well as song and album titles, while the band's original name "His Infernal Majesty" was inspired by The Satanic Bible by Anton LaVey, the song "Oblivious to Evil" by Deicide, and Haile Selassie, who was known as "his imperial majesty". This flirtation with the occult was seen by the band as purely "symbolic" and "traditionally rock 'n' roll". Ville Valo first became interested in the subject while in school and soon began reading books on the occult. All of the band were also big fans of black metal. HIM has maintained that none of them were seriously interested in satanism, that it was "more about the fascination", while honoring "the masters", with "our tongue in cheek about it". His Infernal Majesty eventually shortened their name to HIM in 1996, because Finnish people had difficulty remembering and pronouncing "His Infernal Majesty". Since then, HIM have further toned down the use of satanic imagery, and when asked about the band's image in 2013, Valo responded that "I think we're pretty much the same [offstage]. The only difference is I'm not necessarily wearing eyeliner every day."
On the band's first three albums, vocalist Ville Valo was solely featured on the cover. According to Valo, Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666 was meant as combination of goth and eroticism, while Razorblade Romance was influenced by the 1980s, as well as glam and pop music, and Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights took inspiration from Lou Reed, Patti Smith, and late 1970s New York City art circles. Love Metal was the first album to prominently feature the heartagram on its cover, which was repeated on the follow-up Dark Light. For Venus Doom's cover, the band used a painting by David Harouni, that Valo had purchased while on tour in New Orleans. Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice made use of a picture of a late 19th-century nun sculpture, that Valo had purchased in Bavaria. On Tears on Tape, HIM used several paintings by Daniel P. Carter for the artwork, as well as a variation of the heartagram on the cover, also by Carter. The artwork also made use of the malachim alphabet.
HIM is one of the most commercially successful Finnish bands of all time, with sales of over ten million albums worldwide. The band also holds the distinction of being the first Finnish group to receive a gold record in the United States. HIM is also seen as one of the first Finnish bands to achieve major international success. The band's manager Seppo Vesterinen recalled that before HIM "the success of Finnish bands [..] was confined to pretty small circles, it wasn't a global phenomenon." Juhani Merimaa, owner of the Tavastia Club, also heralded HIM as "trailblazers", opening the doors for other Finnish bands to achieve international recognition, such as Children of Bodom and Sonata Arctica. In September 2015, HIM were one of six Finnish bands honored by the Finnish postal service by being featured on a new line of postage stamps designed by Klaus Welp. In 2017, Loudwire ranked HIM among their list of ten best Finnish metal bands.
Much of HIM's success has been attributed to vocalist and main songwriter Ville Valo. Vesterinen singled out Valo's songwriting ability as a major component in HIM's success, stating: "Charisma in something that you're somewhat born with [...] writing songs on the other hand is hard to learn, if you don't have the talent for it." Juhani Merimaa also stated that with "melodic, catchy and good songs", as well as being "credible in the underground, and the mainstream", HIM had "all the elements for breaking through". HIM also gained many fans through Valo's image, which Vesa Sirén of Helsingin Sanomat described as utilizing "the tried and true James Dean -formula, where sensitivity and edginess combined." In 2004, Jamie Hibbard of Metal Hammer described Valo as one of the few new "rockstars" in music, stating: "HIM were like no other band. They had a special something, but more importantly they had a special someone. Ville shone like a star with his blend of Mick Jagger posturing and Brandon Lee's dark charms in The Crow". HIM also drew in both male and female fans, with Asko Kallonen, who first signed the band to BMG, recalling: "For example in England it was hard to grasp. There the split was usually clear: hard rock was for guys, pop was for girls. HIM was listened to by both." Juhani Merimaa felt similarly, stating: "Unlike other metal bands, they appealed to the opposite sex." Lance Teegarden of PopMatters has noted that HIM is "not the sort of act that conjures up a lukewarm response [as] people either like them or discredit them outright". Some of the major criticism directed towards the band have centered around the "formulaic" nature of their music and "pandering" towards teenage goth fans. HIM's association with Jackass member and skateboarder Bam Margera has also received some negative feedback.
During the band's farewell tour, Valo was asked about HIM's connection with their audience, to which he replied:
We've had the pleasure and honor to generate songs that have resonated with peoples' hearts. That's the magic of rock 'n' roll. I don't have the slightest clue as to why the band has generated such interest. You can't get that with money. It's miraculous.
The heartagram has also been a key factor in HIM's success with many people known to sport tattoos of the logo, including Valo himself, Kat Von D, Bam Margera, Steve-O (a modified version known as the "dickagram"), Howard Jones (formerly of Killswitch Engage), and Marta Peterson (of Bleeding Through). Valo has admitted to the heartagram transcending the band, stating that "there are a lot of people who have them [tattooed] who don't actually know what it was, don't relate it to the band, and in that sense, I consider that to be my greatest achievement." Valo has also given credit to Margera and Von D for supporting HIM and giving the band exposure through their own work. Margera has included much of the band's music and the heartagram in his various films and TV shows, while the heartagram was prominently displayed in Von D's own show LA Ink. Some of the band's other supporters and fans include Dani Filth of Cradle of Filth, Nick Holmes of Paradise Lost, Jeffrey Walker of Carcass, Cristina Scabbia of Lacuna Coil, and Cathedral's Lee Dorrian.
- Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666 (1997)
- Razorblade Romance (2000)
- Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights (2001)
- Love Metal (2003)
- Dark Light (2005)
- Venus Doom (2007)
- Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice (2010)
- Tears on Tape (2013)
|1997||HIM||Newcomer of the Year||Won|
|1997||Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666||Debut Album of the Year||Won|
|1999||HIM||Export of the Year||Won|
|2000||HIM||Band of the Year||Won|
|2000||Razorblade Romance||Album of the Year||Won|
|2001||HIM||Export of the Year||Won|
|2003||Love Metal||Hard Rock/Metal Album of the Year||Nominated|
|2003||HIM||Band of the Year||Nominated|
|2005||Dark Light||Rock Album of the Year||Won|
|2005||"Wings of a Butterfly"||Song of the Year||Won|
|2007||HIM||Band of the Year||Nominated|
|2000||HIM||Viewers' Choice Award||Won|
|2000||"Join Me in Death"||Video of the Year||Won|
|2001||HIM||Viewers' Choice Award||Won|
|2003||Love Metal||Best Album||Nominated|
|2004||"The Funeral of Hearts"||Best Video||Won|
|2004||"The Funeral of Hearts"||Best Single||Nominated|
|2004||HIM||Best Band on the Planet||Nominated|
|2005||HIM||Best Band on the Planet||Nominated|
|2006||HIM||Best Band on the Planet||Nominated|
|2004||Razorblade Romance||IFPI Platinum Europe Award||Won|
|2007||Venus Doom||Best Boxed or Special Limited Edition Package||Nominated|
|2013||HIM||Most Dedicated Fans||Won|
|2014||"Into the Night"||Video of the Year||Won|