January 7, 2015 HIM amaze New Jersey 12-11-14 w/ Motionless in White & Wounds
What better way to escape from the holiday woes then a trip into Gothic Metal bliss with three unlikely paired bands. Initially begun as rumors in the early fall of 2014, it soon became confirmed that Finland’s own HIM would be returning to North America for the second time during the year for the Love Metal Archives Tour, with direct support from Scranton, Pennsylvania band Motionless in White for an eight date mid-December run. HIM, one of the European scene’s most adored Rock acts, treated the states to a more lengthy tour with the UK’s Anathema in the earlier part of the year supporting their 2013 record Tears on Tape. Highly successful, they turned their attention to commemorate and celebrate the band’s illustrious career, showcasing a new limited edition vinyl box set of the band’s entire catalog of albums released via The End Records on December 23rd. When asked about the special release, HIM vocalist Ville Valo stated, “We feel truly blessed to have our sonic offspring of yore being given a new lease on life in the U.S. by the End Records, the home for many of our aural idols, both old and new. The infamous love metal archives have been extensively scoured by us for rare, exclusive and downright scary musical nuggets for an experience in Finnish melancholy like no other, so please consider yourself warned.” Kicking off in style at Webster Hall in New York City on December 9th, the tour’s third stop found them in Sayreville, New Jersey at Starland Ballroom on Tuesday December 11, 2014, marking their return to the venue for the first time since 2013’s Rock Allegiance tour. Wound up with excitement, a mass crowd gathered, ready to Rock and Roll well into the night.
A late addition to the tour bill, up first was Dublin, Ireland band Wounds. Combining a Death Punk sound with eerie, unforgettable lyrics, this young band is well on their way to making an international name for themselves after spending time on tour with Finch, then partaking in their own headlining showcase December 1st through 7th. Although they have only been together for three years, members Craig McCann (drums), Steve Lucarelli (bass), along with brothers James (guitar) and Aiden Coogan (vocals) have proven that they have the heart and sound of a memorable band. Looking grungy and disheveled, the boys bounded up onto the stage, ready to pour their passion and charisma into every song they played. There was no denying the intense emotion of vocalist Aidan as he dropped to his knees and then onto his back as he crooned the lyrics during the set. The success of their debut album, Die Young, preceded them, and fans throughout the crowd were cheering and singing right along with songs like single “Dead Dead Fucking Dead.” Both intriguing and energizing, Wounds put on an amazing show. As Wounds left the stage, they also left the audience pumped and primed for the rest of the night.
Next was highly charismatic and often excitable band Motionless in White. Founded in 2005, Motionless in White has been causing quite a stir in the Rock world, grabbing the hearts of fans with their very first listen. Their latest album, Reincarnate, was released this past September, much to the intrigue of Metal fans everywhere. Inarguably destined for further greatness in 2015, Motionless in White gave a stage performance that the New Jersey audience would not soon forget. In eerie shadows and hues of blue waited Devin “Ghost” Sola, who, when he arrived, was wearing a black wedding dress and was holding a single, lit candle that he extinguished as the emotionally charge “Everyone Sells Cocaine” began. Band members Ricky Horror (rhythm guitar), Ryan Sitkowski (lead guitar), and Joshua Balz (keyboards) thrashed their instruments with precision and dedication behind Vocalist Chris Motionless. Motionless, a pure frontman through and through, throttled back and forth across the stage, screaming and singing while fans fawned at his attention during songs such “”A-M-E-R-I-C-A,” the inspiring “Unstoppable,” as well as single “Reincarnate,” among others. Closing out the set with “Devil’s Night,” fans yearned for more, but found comfort in knowing these road warriors would be back in 2015 with more touring. If nothing else, Motionless in White put together one hell of a live performance that was guaranteed to please all.
Finally, the moment came for Helsinki’s own HIM to take the stage. Originally known as His Infernal Majesty, self-proclaimed Love Metal band HIM was formed in 1991 by vocalist Valo, guitarist Mikko “Linde” Lindstrom and bassist Mikko “Mige” Paananen, who soon added Janne “Emerson Burton” Puurtinen on keyboards and Mika Karppinen on drums. Having achieved platinum status in Finland with five of their eight studio albums, their 2006 album Dark Light went gold in the US, making them the first Finnish band to hold this honor. International stars since, the band’s visits to the USA are always an event for their dedicated fan base, and Starland Ballroom was packed to the gills with anticipation awaiting their arrival on the platform.
Blue and purple lighting bathed the band in cool color like an arctic ice cave as Valo took the stage, opening with “The Sacrament” As soon as everyone heard the unmistakable first notes from “Razorblade Kiss,” the roar of noise became deafening as screams of excitement filled the air. Flowing seamlessly like water, HIM kept the energy high with favorites like “Right Here in My Arms,” “Your Sweet Six Six Six,” and their unmistakable rendition of Chris Isaak’s “Wicked Games.” Quickly beginning to feel like one of the most completely balanced, reflective performances highlighting the band’s history, no one could contain themselves as “Gone With the Sin,” “Soul on Fire,” “Heartache Every Moment,” “Buried Alive By Love” and “Rip Out the Wings of a Butterfly” followed. Inspired by the crowd reaction, Valo and company sounded as powerful, tight, and colorful as ever.
As the perform moved along, there was little to no down time as the hits kept coming and fans sang along, losing themselves in the moment. Valo, impassioned in his delivery, crooned on with “Poison Girl,” “Killing Loneliness,” newer song “No Love” and “Join Me in Death.” Judging by the song selection as well as length of the set, it would be easy to think Valo would suffer from fatigue, but impressively the vocalist kept his cords fresh and lively all night long. As the night came to a close with “When Love and Death Embrace,” the audience cheered for more, unwilling to let HIM go. It was at this point that HIM shocked the audience with an electrifying cover of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell” as an encore.
Not many bands can head to a foreign country and flourish, but time and time again HIM prove they can. With sold out shows all across the US, fans have welcomed these Helsinki natives with open arms. The Love Metal Archives Tour, while brief, was easily one of the band’s best tours stateside in their career. Hopes are they will be back sooner rather than later sometime in 2015.