HIM 2.0: Ville Valo is back with his new EP: “Gothica Fennica Vol.1” (Review)

Editing Note:  Every day we turn on the news and we are bombarded with the reminder that the economy is crashing, people are dying and there’s a viral disease poisoning the air.  We are told to drop everything we’ve been working on, hide and wait this mess out. Life feels apocalyptic, unsettling and unreal… and then I remember that there’s still the one thing that brings me the most joy on a daily basis, music. We still, thankfully, have music. So in these tough times, let’s band together and continue sharing, talking and promoting music. Especially since the music industry is one of the sectors of the world that has been hit hardest. If you, like me, also lost your source of income, and cannot afford to financially support musicians, and those in the industry, then do the small and easy favour of sharing their music.

At the age of 43, Ville Hermanni Valo has built himself a music empire and the title of a pop-culture icon. It’s been nearly 3 decades since the Finnish musician introduced the world to the notion of “love metal”, all the while stealing the hearts of every gender from every nation with his sensually dark music.

HIM, formerly known as His Infernal Majesty, is one of the greatest imports of Finland of all time, and that’s not just me making a bold statement out of strong bias…Statistically, the band HIM had been declared the most commercially sucessful bands of all time to come from Finland.

Through the work of Ville Valo, and co-creator, Mikko “Mige” Paananen,  which were later joined by Mikko “Linde” Lindström, Mika “Gas Lipstick” Karppinen and Janne “Burton” Puurtinen), the Finnish band has sold over ten million records worldwide and shaped the culture of the early two-thousands youth generation.

After releasing 8 successful LP’s, selling out tours worldwide, and accumulating an abundance of success in nearly 30 years, HIM announced the earth-shattering and soul-crushing news of their disbandment in early 2017.

Despite the news of HIM breaking up being very upsetting, it was not that shocking for long time fans. It was evident since the release of HIM’s last album, Tears on Tape (2013), that the group was tired of not only the music itself but also the excessive pressure it took to be in a band of that stature.  Also, as a group of men approaching their forties, I think they were getting tired of singing songs about necromancy, vampires and death (But I sure as hell was not tired hearing about it). Nonetheless, I was not mentally prepared to live in a world without new Ville Valo music.

So, in true Ville Valo fashion, once HIM performed their annual (but this time final) New Years’ Eve Concert at The Tavastia Club in Helsinki, Finland… he went into isolation for several months leaving us wondering if that really was the last of the love metal prince.

Editing Darya: if there’s anyone on this earth that’s coping with isolation well, it’d be Ville as he has had a lot of practice doing it

Luckily, fans were only left crying and mourning the death of HIM for a few months, as in early 2018, Valo came out of hiding to sing back-up on Andy McCoy’s Soul Satisfaction EP.  Soon after, he announced that he would be reuniting with the Finnish classic rock band, Agents, to perform previously unreleased songs by Finnish singer-songwriter Rauli “Badding” Somerjoki, under the title of “Ville Valo and Agents ” (VV&A).

The first VV& A single “Orpolapsi kiurun” was released on the 21st September 2018 (which you can read my thoughts about here), and Ville made his live performance debut (since the breakup of HIM) at the annual Emma Gala (Finnish Grammy’s) on the 2nd of February 2019. The group released their self-titled album on the 15th of February 2019, and the album went gold in less than a week and debuted at number one on the Finnish Album Chart. The record was also the distributors, and local Finnish record stores, Levykauppa Äx, most sold record of all time.

(and your girl bought 3 copies of the album, and flew to Helsinki to buy it from Levykauppa Äx themselves)

VV&A began their Finnish tour in March, which concluded in August, thus resulting in Valo going back into hibernation for several more months.

In those several months, its safe to say shit really hit the fan, globally. Here we are living life in isolation, quarantine and social distancing. Unable to leave our houses, nearly banging our heads against the wall… nearly, that was until Ville Hermanni Valo resurged himself at exactly the right moment.  He must have come to the epiphany that the world needs him and his vampire-esque presence right now.

And, well, he was not wrong.

On the 20th of March 2020, Ville Valo resurrected himself from his love metal coffin and released a three-song EP titled Gothica Fennica Vol. 1, under the pseudonym VV.

What a f*cking treat in such horrible times it is.

The EP opens with “Salute The Sanguine“,  which instantly, like literally from the first note, hits all of us long-time HIM fans with a tidal wave of nostalgia. The song shares semblance to the very popular HIM song “Killing Loneliness” from Dark Light (2005) as well as “Love Without Tears” from Tears on Tape (2013). This comparison makes sense since all of these songs were either produced, mixed, or both by British legend, Tim Palmer.

The track is sentimental, melancholic, but holds true to HIM roots of doomy guitars and melodically sweet vocals of Mr. Ville Valo.

To quote the man himself, “Here come the tears, along with terms of endearment”, that is exactly how this song and this entire EP makes me, and I’m sure many others, feel.

As cheesy as this may sound, hearing Ville Valo sing about love and death again instantly brought me to tears. I can’t even begin to explain how much I’ve missed it, how much I love it and how much more if it I need.

After “Salute The Sanguine“, the EP smoothly moves into the second track called “Run Away From The Sun“. This song, again, brings back nostalgic HIM sentiments and holds a similarity to “In Venere Veritas” from Screamworks […] (2009), as both songs open with distorted Ville vocals that sound like a voicemail being left for a loved one.

Unlike “In Venere Veritas“, however, “Run Away From The Sun” is a lot more soft and carries dreamy-like tones. Again, the composition of this track is very similar to what you would hear on Tears on Tape (2013) and, honestly,  sounds like it could b-side on that album. This assumption wouldn’t be a stretch to believe since Ville did share that there were a lot of songs written for that album that didn’t even make the recording cut due to general disagreement from the band. Overall, ” Run Away From The Sun” is soft, somber, and I’m glad it was included in this EP (if it was a throwaway from Tears on Tape (2013)). 

If you know anything about Ville you would know he’s a man of tradition, a sucker for classics, and sometimes a walking cliché. This time ’round he lived true to the statement of “save the best for last”, because wow the last track on this EP is breathtaking.

The third and final track, “Saturnine Saturnalia” is everything and more that a HIM fan could ever ask for. It has its heavier elements, it has the lyrics that rip your heart out, the pained, but beautiful voice of Ville Valo crooning out his own powerful poetry. It has everything a HIM 2.0 track would need.

This song has a lot of elements that take us back to Venus Doom (2007), which, if you know me, you would know that is one of my all-time favourite albums… ever. “Saturnine Saturnalia” could be considered a “Sleepwalking Past Hope” continuation, as they both carry the “I would walk through hell for you” vibes, and in times of a real apocalypse… that sh*t hurts. Furthermore, both “Saturnine Saturnalia” and “Sleepwalking Past Hope” take you on an emotional journey that makes you feel the pain that he’s elegantly expressing.

I know I sound like a gushing fangirl in this piece, but it’s hard not to when the musician that reigns number one in my list of 21st-century artists comes back with such a strong work of art. I genuinely could listen to this EP for hours. Also, it doesn’t help that this EP has been dropped on our laps so unexpectedly, in such a frightful time in history.  So, yeah, I am fangirling, because I am so grateful for this EP (to put it bluntly).

Thank you, Ville for putting a temporary pause on all this anxiety that has been building up for everyone right now. This EP really has reminded me that with music we can get through all the obstacles that life throws at us. “Gothica Fennica Vol.1” is a gift that I am so grateful for.

Until next time Interwebs! 🕸


Thank you for reading Interwebs, all your support means the world to me. I just wanted to add that I recently lost my source of financial stability and in dire need of any money. If you enjoy my writing and have $3 to spare, please consider tipping me on ko-fi 

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Contact email: blueveinblues@gmail.com

 

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