His Infernal Majesty
His Infernal Majesty (1991-1993, 1995-2017) is a Gothic Metal band from Helsinki, Finland.
etter known as HIM, His Infernal Majesty formed in 1991 by vocalist Ville Hermanni Valo and bassist Mikko "Mige" Paananen but the original incarnation only lasted until 1993 when they split up due to Mige starting his compulsory national military service. Military service over, the act re-started in December of 1995 with their debut gig in Helsinki, Finland with Valo, Mikko "Linde" Lindström (guitar) and Paananen. New member drummer Juhana "Pätkä" Rantala (drums), who Hermanni met via a friend, would join soon after, and the band would officially adopt the short form of their name, "HIM".
That debut 1995 Helsinki gig, in support of Kauko Rövhkä, was a disaster because the public thought that His Infernal Majesty was simply a nickname for Kauko, believing there was no other act; the problem was further compounded when the audience got disappointed with the band's sound from technical problems they were having on-stage. Much of their early sets was cover tracks for the likes of Type O Negative, Kiss, Black Sabbath and Depeche Mode. By their second show, they asked Janne Puurtinen (a.k.a. Burton), a friend, to play keyboards in their Type O Negative covers; years later he would become a permanent member of the band.
HIM's first EP 666 Ways To Love - Prologue was released in 1996 containing the cover of Chris Isaak's Wicked Game that would help them get known later on. On this record, guitarist Oskari "Oki" Kymäläinen joined, but his tenure didn't last long for he was dismissed from the act because of his love affair with Pätkä's girlfriend. Soon after the release, keyboardist Antto Melasniemi, who was a friend of Hermanni, was added to the line-up.
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From early on,HIM's logo, known as Heartigram, a heart intermixed with the pentagram, became a staple for the act. The logo was later registered as a trademark. The logo was created by Valo as a doodle while waiting for other band members to arrive and represents love and horror, specifically as it relates to love songs in combination with heavy metal as an act of balance.
In 1997, HIM released their first full length record Greatest Love Songs Vol. 666 featuring their version of Blue Oyster Cult's (Don't Fear) The Reaper, as well as The Heartless and Our Diabolikal Rapture.
Their second album was originally to boast the title Slippery When Dead, a kind of homage to Bon Jovi's first album. Scheduled for a 1999 release it was postponed due to internal issues including Antto leaving in 1998 and replaced by Jussi-Mikko Salminen (a.k.a. Zoltan Pluto/a.k.a. Juska) who debuted with the band in Germany in 1998, not to mention the time consumed with a tour in Austria and Switzerland. The new album would be further delayed in 1999 when Pätkä decided to quit the band because of the birth of his son, to be was replaced by Mika Karppinen (a.k.a. Gas Lipstick/a.k.a. Kaasu). More time was consumed due to the arrival of the new drummer which meant that the album had to be re-recorded (in Wales) to replace the drum machine that was being used in place, with his work. The resulting album featured little of the dark mood of the previous work; it featured more weight and a sound that resembled the work of the '70s and '80s rock bands. Now called Razorblade Romance the second album featured the songs Poison Girl, Resurrection, Right Here In My Arms and the Type O Negative-like Gone With The Sin, among others.
The spun-off single Join Me In Death was chosen to be part of the 13th Floor's movie soundtrack and went #1 in Finland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. This spun-off single was the first Finnish rock song to reach #1 outside Scandinavia just as HIM started to get known in Central and Eastern Europe, not to mention their fan-base in Germany getting even stronger; Germany would become, after their homeland, the main center of their success. Indeed, by 2000 their album was still floating around Europe to make it to the top of the charts in Finland, Germany, and Austria, while the singles from it would reach positions in the top ten rock charts. By the end of that year they had already sold 80,000 copies of their album in Finland alone, and by January 2001, the sales reached 1 million copies in Europe.
The third album was originally to be called Ozzymandias Dargunum (yes, as a good sense of humor). They started to record it by the end of 2000 and their intention was to make it a more melodic album. But it too would be delayed by Juska leaving the band in early 2001 to concentrate on his studies, with Burton called in to replace him. Another problem arose when they faced problems from their record company, the German 'BMG', who were demanding the act change aspects their appearance and sound. Even during the shooting of the video of Pretending before the release of the album, the problems with the record company guys continued, this time the matter was the producers were changed during the recording. Needless to say by the end of the year their deal with 'BMG' was over.
The critics bashed the resulting re-baptized third album Deep Shadows And Brilliant Highlights and the sales were slipping when it was released in August of 2001, the past July had seen their single for Pretending released. The album sold 100,000 copies in Finland in two weeks and in November that year it had sold already 400,000 in Europe and America, far less than the past. HIM then toured England with their show in London being a great success, the first one, for example, was sold out in two days supporting The Mission. By the end of that year, they started the biggest tour that a Finnish rock band ever did by playing all over Europe. This album also saw the introduction of Janne "Burton" Puurtinen taking over keyboards as a permanent member.
During some downtime in 2002 HIM's Razorblade Romance album was released in the US, but there was another band in Chicago that already had the name His Infernal Majesty, so the album was sold under the band acronym H.E.R. for some time until they could arrange to buy the name from the Americans. The first book about them was also written and released at this time by the journalist Juho Juntunen, with the name Synnin Viemää (in Finnish means: Gone With The Sin) soon after.
The recording for HIM's 4th album started at the end of 2002 and this time they decided to recover some of the weight of the first two albums. Two videos were produced before the release of the album. One was the Buried Alive By Love that had actress Juliette Lewis starring in it, and the other was for Funeral Of Hearts shot in Lapland. In March 2003, Funeral Of Hearts was released as a single and remained for two weeks as 1 in Finland and 3 in Germany charts. To promote their new album, HIM offered a free show in Hamburg in which they played all their new songs. That March, the guitarist Linde's first daughter was born, and inevitably, rumors that he was going to leave the band started but proved untrue. In April of 2003, that new album, Love Metal, was released featuring The Sacrament, Circle Of Fear, among other tracks with the mixture of melodic tunes and heavy guitars that were typical of their sound. In 2004, however, HIM was currently touring Europe and accepted the proposal by 'Universal' to represent them in America. Opening shows with Ozzy Osbourne, one of their greatest idols, would follow.
On 17 January 2005, HIM, along with The Rasmus, The 69 Eyes, Apocalyptica and Negative, performed at the Yhteinen ASIA benefit concert for victims of the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami.
In March 2005, Himmeetä valoa, a documentary about the band, saw its premiere on Yle TV2.
Love Metal Archives Vol. I (2003), a collection of music videos, live performances, interviews and other bonus material would then be released.
HIM's most successful album to date, Dark Light would arrive in September of 2005; the New York Times descred the work as "sturdier than ever".
November 2006 saw HIM release Uneasy Listening Vol. 1, a collection of various alternate versions of previously released material.
Making of their sixth album, Venus Doom (2007), was plagued with problems of Ville Valo's personal life. Valo's alcohol abuse had worsened, culminating with him reportedly vomiting and defecating blood. These issues came to a head when Valo suffered a nervous breakdown during the recording process. The album gave the act their highest chart position to date in the US at 12. Valo would be admitted to the Promises Rehabilitation Clinic in Malibu by the band's manager Seppo Vesterinen; at the time they had been recording in Los Angeles. The compilation box set Uneasy Listening Vol. 1 & 2, containing both previously released Uneasy Listening albums would arrive the next year.
Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice (2010), was the first album that Ville Valo worked on completely sober, resulting in the group rehearsing more than ever before. The album charted in ten countries, including the top ten in Finland, Germany, Austria and Switzerland; also reaching 1 on the UK rock & Metal Albums Charts, and gold in Finland.
In the summer of 2011, during work on their eighth album, production was cut short after a label change and Karppinen becoming diagnosed with a repetitive stress injury and nerve damage in his hands; after eight months, the band resumed work. The compilation, XX - Two Decades of Love Metal (2012) would then arrive.
In support for their Tears on Tape (2013) album, HIM were scheduled to begin their North American tour on May 3, 2013, but had to cancel after Valo suffered a severe asthma attack and was diagnosed with presumptive pneumonia; the tour was resumed later in the year, as a part of the Rock Allegiance Tour, along side Volbeat, All That Remains and Airbourne.
n January 2015, Karppinen announced his departure from HIM; Jukka "Kosmo" Kröger would replace him for the next two years of touring that ensued.
On 5 March 2017, HIM announced the band would be disbanding following a farewell tour that same year.
Footnote: His Infernal Majesty has made their mark on history as the second rock band from Finland to get success outside Scandinavia (the first was Night Wish). His Infernal Majesty has no relation to the Canadian thrash metal act Infernal Majesty.
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HIM performing at Ursynalia in June 2013.
Photo by: Spens03
CC BY-SA 3.0