In the annals of 21st century alternative rock history there are few artists who cast a longer or more peculiar shadow than Finnish Love Metal pioneer Ville Valo. After all, his band HIM were easily among the most iconic and idiosyncratic groups of the millenium. Zealously revered, gleefully reviled but impossible to ignore, their music left an indelible mark on a worldwide legion of fans. The scarlet letters stood for His Infernal Majesty. Their founder stood for something delightedly out of step with the status quo.
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“We only hoped to temporarily redirect hard rock’s blood flow from the nether regions towards the heart”, reminisces Ville Valo, the singer, songwriter and primus motor of HIM. Judging by the monolithic presence of the Heartagram in any account of music this side of the millennium it’s apparent that he succeeded.
Inspired by everyone from Poe to Bukowski and tinged by a penchant for perfumed Sabbathian gloom, Valo’s creative lovechild would produce eight era-defining studio releases and over ten million record sales, not forgetting a Grammy nomination, countless magazine covers, critical acclaim, and the veneration of a generation. Thus it came as no surprise that the news of a farewell tour in 2017 was greeted with shock and disbelief among devotees and endless speculation as to what or who was to take up the velvet mantle.
“As fun as the funeral rites for HIM were, it took me more than a few moons to lick my wounds in the shadow of the Heartagram and come up with an excuse to strum and hum again. Eventually I decided put a leash on my beloved black dog and we started howling together instead of barking at each other. That’s how Loveletting was born”.
Loveletting, the first single off VV’s debut album ‘Neon Noir’ out in early 2023, suggests this new infernal mix of light and shade is nothing short of a landmark release from one of modern music’s most distinctive and intriguing voices. It belongs to the same forlorn world of woe and whimsy once conceived and governed by Valo in HIM, but with the nuanced notes of a fine aged Cabernet.
“Artistically speaking the main difference between HIM and VV is the extra line in the Heartagram, but what an exquisite line it is! It’s the Mamas and the Papas dressed up as Metallica on their way to a Halloween bash at the Studio 54, and now who wouldn’t want to witness that?”