HIM, "Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice"

70 Billboard Rating

On HIM's latest album, "Screamworks: Love in Theory and Practice," the Finnish rock band's frontman Ville Valo sings, "I'm not afraid to say I love you." That's not the only thing that doesn't scare him. As the flowery title suggests, the album represents a move away from the band's heavy metal history toward a more pop-friendly sound. If Valo has ever feared the wrath of the Ozzfest orthodox, he's clearly beyond caring now. In catchy, synthed-up rock tunes like "Heartkiller" and "Scared to Death," the lack of concern definitely benefits the music, leading Valo to further indulge the romantic streak that has sometimes been hidden behind big guitars in the past. At other points-like on the snoozy power ballad "Disarm Me (With Your Loneliness)"-Valo probably could've used a bit more muscle. A mixed bag, but an appealingly bold one.-Mikael Wood

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