The iconic Finnish goth-rock band HIM decided to call it quits earlier in 2017 and subsequently announced a farewell tour across North America and Europe to say goodbye to fans who’ve followed them along their 26-year trajectory. The final show in the US was played at The Manhattan Center- Hammerstein Ballroom in New York City on Friday, November 17; the perfect city to end the North America leg of their tour, which turned out a sold out crowd at the large theater.
Ville Valo and band, have been sticking it out in rock and metal since the early 90s, exuding a magnetic appeal with the crossover hits that were able to acquire pop-loving fans. Truth is very few bands have the qualities to crossover both borders and genres. With their debut, Greatest Lovesongs Vol. 666 (1997), HIM grounded themselves as a heavy metal band with distinct gothic influences. Lyrically, the album revolved around love, death and loss; subjects that would be consistent throughout their career. Darker and gothic aesthetics would become the bands signature and appeal, allowing them to acquire a greater fan base worldwide.
Later albums such as Razorblade Romance (2001) and Dark Light (2005) would move toward a more polished sound that would allow accessibility even from pop loving fans. “Right Here In My Arms” off of Razorblade Romance and “Wings of a Butterly” (releases as “Rip Out the Wings of a Butterfly”) off of Dark Light would go on to receive heavy airplay on MTV and its sister channel MTV 2 through the early 2000s.
The consistent content revolving around love, loss and heartbreak led them to call their genre “love metal”, a title no other band can ever duplicate or fit in as does HIM. Fittingly is their logo, the heartagram, which is a combination of a heart and the pentagram symbol. As explained by Valo, the heart represents the softer side of the band while the pentagram represents the bands heavier influences. Whether you are familiar with HIM’s music or not, you have surely seen the heartagram logo around as its been used heavily throughout media, even appearing on an episode of the popular TV series “Criminal Minds.”
For fans that have followed HIM, much of their music can present feelings of nostalgia, as their popular hits from the early 2000s were advertised heavily throughout TV, radio and even film. It is inevitable that HIM’s music would be such a staple to a particular phase in popular media.
Whether fans have followed the band throughout their latest albums or not, the memories and attachment to the band was enough to bring them all out to their final show.
The night was kicked off early with a change in schedule; 3Teeth took the stage at 7:15pm. Regardless of their displeasure with the set change, they continued to give an energetic show to the slowly crowding venue. From Los Angeles, the industrial metal band consists of Alexis Mincolla on vocals, Xavier Swafford on keyboards, Andrew Means on drums, and Chase Brawner on guitars. Although relatively new to the game (formed in 2013), 3Teeth have already been invited to join in support by heavyweights such as Tool and Rammstein. Their latest album <shutdown.exe> was released this year and is available for streaming via Spotify.
An interesting choice for lineup considering the drastic difference in genres, the night moved from an intense industrial metal opener to CKY, an alternative metal/skate punk band from West Chester, Pennsylvania. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, just take a listen to their hit “96 Quite Bitter Beings” and take a ride down memory lane. Its sure to bring you back to their early 2000s. Although unfair, it is the song the band is mostly remembered for. Used as a transitioning song for TV shows, and even film, the song is one of the most memorable of the decade. The theater was filled with fans who grew up on said music and so singing along was no problem for the audience. CKY’s latest album The Phoenix was released in mid June this year and is now available on Spotify.
The Manhattan Center was now at full capacity, just in time for HIM who took the stage at 9pm. Starting their set with “Buried Alive by Love”, the lights were placed on Ville as he got closer to his fans. Lights quickly dimmed out and remained darkened with specks of purple, dark pink and yellow throughout the night. The audience was seen enjoying themselves and indulging in both drugs and alcohol to take in the night. Ville and band, Mikko “Mige” Paananen (bass), Mikko “Linde” Lindström (guitars), Janne “Burton” Puurtinen (keyboards), Jukka “Kosmo” Kröger (drums) all sounded in sync and the band allowed for Valo to be the center of the stage.
Valo has for years struggled vocally due to smoking abuse, and while this night was not his best effort, it was enough for fans who simply took pleasure in admiring him on stage. A near two hour set included songs like “Your Sweet 666”, “Wings of a Butterfly”, their famous cover of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Game” and “Killing Loneliness.” The progressive pop oriented tunes showed in the demographics of the audience, many of whom looked to have no real association to heavy metal music, but were easily drawn to the catchy, polished melodies in previously mentioned tracks.
The band would come out for an encore in which they performed Billy Idol’s classic “Rebel Yell” and “When Love and Death Embrace.” Opinions of the show ranged, but everyone in attendance was grateful to witness the farewell of one of the most successful and memorable rock bands in the US, of which so many have a close emotional connection to. All of HIM’s albums are available for free streaming on Spotify or for purchase via iTunes. HIM retires as one of the most successful bands in Finland having sold over ten million albums worldwide.