Release Date: January 13, 2023
Genre: Gothic Rock, Alternative Rock
Label: Spinefarm Records / Heartagram Records
It's been a long six years since the legendary Finnish love metal and gothic rock band HIM last braced the stage at the Helldone festival in Helsinki, Finland, on December 31, 2017, for what was their final performance. Since the band's break up, vocalist Ville Valo has had trouble realizing what and where he wanted to take his career. Two years after the band's demise, he ultimately joined the Finnish rock band Agents after the band's vocalist and guitarist Vesa Haaja left the band. The quartet went on to release the album Ville Valo & Agents in 2019. Some four years after a stint performing as the frontman of Agents, Ville is back under the pseudonym of VV, and he has readied the release of his solo debut album, Neon Noir.
Neon Noir is a beloved love letter directly from Ville Valo to honour his twenty-five years while performing in his musical love child HIM, but also a further step forward for his creative artistry. For any fan of HIM, the twelve tracks on VV's debut release pick up exactly where Ville Valo and HIM left off with Tears on Tape (2013). The album's tracks feature a few elements that are experimental and make his album stand out among the entire HIM discography. Both lyrically and musically, Valo continues to stride in the genre HIM pioneered as "love metal," crossing alternative rock elements with a gothic writing style that embodies fear and haunting with the sentiment of love and connection. Neon Noir is full of themes and topics you'd expect from the veteran songwriter.
I don't know if Valo has yet come to terms that HIM is done, this is him saying goodbye to that part of his life, or if this exact style of music is just flowing in his veins until he hangs up the metaphorical musical coat, but Ville Valo's debut album is still a further continuation of what he has been writing, recording, and performing for nearly three decades. And there's absolutely nothing wrong with that fact. It's got Valo's signature songwriting, the instrumentals similar to HIM, and he uses his five-octave baritone range flawlessly. Neon Noir is the perfect capsulation of everything he's done to date. Regardless, the heartagram is back, and it's stronger than ever.
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