In 2017, After 26 years, Ville Valo announced that HIM (His Infernal Majesty) was closing their casket for good! This announcement brought forth a lot of mixed feelings from longtime fans of the band; majority agreed that they outlived their course. Those who were fans of the band their prime are now thirty-something and older and no longer smudging their eyeliner while wearing black-wide-legged-pants from hot topic. Then there were those, like me, who could live in that teen-angst-mall-goth aesthetic forever and were not ready to let go of this one last reminder of the 90s/early 2000s aesthetic.
Ville Hermanni Valo is the frontman and founding father of the Finnish “love metal” band. They were a hybridization of 80s goth-pop and 90s nu-metal, there was nothing like HIM on the charts, or in western music culture. Ville and the band coined something innovative with their new genre of music, and later in 2003 after Ville drawing what is now known as the heartagram, you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing the design on a shirt, skateboard, bag, beanie and more! HIM had become the face of a generation.
Despite all the band’s glory and success of the band, men wanting to be a member of HIM and women wanting to do absolutely anything to get up close and personal with the Finnish vampire-esque man, there were many personal struggles behind closed doors that had not only costed the band’s reputation, but kill the excitement within the band. For many years Ville had been battling alcohol addiction and nursing heartaches that made a man like Ville, who capitalizes off their vulnerability, unable to function. The band had become infamously known for their hit and miss records, as well as their hit and miss albums.
After 2007, and a handful of too drunk to function performances from the luscious frontman, many people started to hang up their heartagrams for good. Although the band did make many attempts and come back in the following 10 years, it was obvious the flame within the band and the audience has slowed down; but there were some like me, eagerly awaiting new music from the Finnish trope despite the bad moments.
The declaration of the band’s breakup had crushed my heart, there’s no point in hiding that. I had been a fan of HIM since middle school but never had the opportunity to attend a live show simply because I had not been allowed, so knowing I missed my chance for good truly sucked. However, as an adult, I realized that this decision made the most sense. Ville is in his early 40s now, and I understand that songs that he had written in his twenties with metaphors about vampires, coffins and blood, may something he no longer wants to be attached to.
In December of 2017, Ville had admitted that although he had already begun writing solo material, he wasn’t sure when his return to music would be which created a sense of fear that we, the fans, would have to wait years for new material. There’s always an internal battle of wanting your favourite artist to rest and write material they are happy with, therefore allowing them to take a break as long as they need it to be, but you can’t help but alas long for their return.
Throughout the past 8 months, there had been a lot of speculation as to what kind of music Ville would make. Most people had been anticipating for him to produce a metal album, or at least a hard rock album, due to the fact that Ville had always been an advocate for the genre. Whereas, I, personally, was hoping he would release a folk album.
This is simply because, throughout the last two HIM tours, you could the decline in passion and energy in both Ville and the entire band had on stage. The love in the love metal genre had run its course. Yes, the songs were nostalgic and fun to sing along to, but it was obvious Ville felt restricted in limiting his writing to gothic themes. Furthermore, when Ville had started working on side solo projects with his cover of songs like Summer Wine and a Finnish song called “olet mun kaikuluotain”, which he actually had won an Emma for — equivalent to a Grammy in Finland, it really foreshadowed that his interest is no longer love metal but bringing his romantic songwriting roots to more beautifully orchestrated folk and soft rock songs! slowing down the melody, in order for people to not only appreciate his true vocal abilities but as well as his songwriting.
On August 29, 2018, Ville Valo’s facebook removed the once iconic “heartagram” logo that had been plastered all over their page and replaced with a new logo of V’s symbolizing a restart for Ville and his music. Shedding the metal from “love metal” genre and keeping it at love.
The Facebook page announced:
“Ville Light, agents and badding
The birth of the legendary rauli “badding” will be 71 years old today.
Badding’s pre-unpublished songs will be heard by Ville Valo & agents
With The Guitar Legend Esa Pulliainen , the agents band, and the soloists of the song that ended at the end of the year, have begun to cooperate with rauli ‘badding’.
” this story began three years ago when I found the three demo tapes sent to me by the table lo. First thing I did was get in touch with ville, ‘ cause dude’s got a hard-on for badding. I am more than happy to see this dude finally come true, even after thirty years of delay, to record these songs, and now I feel that the promise is fulfilled “, says buns.
The first single of the ville light & agents band is badding’s writing and said, before an unpublished song, an orphan child, which also hears maestro badding’s voice. The song is published digitally 21.9.2018.
Ville Light & agents album will be published in the early year. There’s a tour coming after the album.”
Alas, here we are, post single drop that happened on the 21st of September and its safe to say Ville hammered in the last nail in his Vampire coffin and is giving us something new and fresh. The song Orpolapsi Kiurun which apparently translates to “Orphan Child Of The Skylark”, is more in the realms of the beach-rock category. The song is a lot more relaxed sounding than we, as longtime fans, are used to hearing Ville sing, which I for one, am a fan of!
Throughout the 26 years that Ville has graced us with the presence of his beautiful voice, there were definitely times it sounded strenuous due to the fact he would be pushing his baritone voice to sing in higher notes that are far beyond his natural range. On top of his famous rock’n’roll yells; Ville’s heavy smoking and drinking had a lot of his fans worrying that he’d damage his vocal chords for good. So, despite how badass his songs sounded, it definitely was not healthy for him, which is partly why I was glad that he was ready to close the chapter on HIM and give us something new!
Luckily, near the end of HIM, and while on the Farewell Tour, Ville had explained that he had been in the process of quitting cigarettes and had extensively cut down on his drinking, which has made a noticeable difference in Orpolapsi Kiurun because his voice is once again as smooth as a black cup of coffee.Orpolapsi Kiurun sounds so natural, you can hear the comfort in Ville Valo’s voice, it sounds happy and free.
For the first time in the last decade, Ville has the creative freedom to be himself. He doesn’t have to growl or sing songs about funerals and death (if he doesn’t want to), he can be Ville Hermanni Valo, a 41-year-old Finnish musician and that’s it. Although, Ville recently shared in an interview that at first that this transition is not only been weird for fans, but for him as well, because at the end of the day his first love is metal music, he likes black metal and death metal, but he has accepted that in his current chapter in life that’s not where he is creative — and hopes his fans understand that.
To me this transition makes the most sense, musicians shouldn’t have to restrict themselves to a genre because of what they listen to or just because that’s what they started doing. He isn’t in his twenties anymore, his vocal abilities are now much stronger in the softer rock genre, as well as his natural language. This shift to beach rock makes sense for his own health (to preserve his vocal chords) and strategically.
For those who only speak one language, you may not be aware, but in order to be able to put on the proper accent, as well as properly announcement words in a language that you are not native to, you often have to shift your speaking voice to a different tone. Ville naturally has a very deep voice, however, in English he has to strain to go a bit higher, especially when he sings, in order to pronounce things at the American accent he tends to speak in when speaking English (although, when he was younger it was an English accent lol). Now, in Finnish, Ville is doesn’t have to strain to pronounce things in an American accent, he can sing in his natural tone as well which allows his vocal chords to be more relaxed.
Moreover, Ville has admitted that his denial of singing in his mother language has been a fear of being trapped in Finland and as a young adult, you don’t want to be stuck in your home country… especially when you’re doing a job like music. Now that Ville Valo is an internationally well-known name, he has the privilege of being able to write, produce and sing in Finnish because he knows his international fans will still give it a listen because we are already fans of him and his music!
Which is true! Do I have any idea what he’s singing? No, not really, I have done some google translating on the lyrics, however, that doesn’t do idioms justice. Am I a fan of the song? Yes. The song is beautiful, its well composed, and the sound of content and comfort in Ville’s voice is so comforting to my ears. Knowing that Ville is not only proud of releasing Finnish music, but hearing him say that he is so happy that he can finally go back to mother language is all I, as a huge fan, can ask for.
As someone who constantly preaches that the ability to express oneself freely is the key to a good life, how could I ever be irritated that a person who has spent 26 years in the music industry is finally regaining control of their creative freedom? Especially, someone, I admire so dearly. Orpolapsi Kiurun is sweet and melodic, and such an easy listen. I’ve had on repeat for 3 days straight, I honestly can’t get enough of it!
Orpolapsi Kiurun has got me so excited to hear more from Ville Valo & Agents, both Ville and Esa Pulliainen are incredibly talented musicians, and I hope to catch them on tour when I go to Sweden & Finland in February!
Stream Orpolapsi Kiurun
Until next time interwebs 🕸
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