So, its time to say hello again to Finland’s most famous musical export – the rather cryptically titled HIM. “Venus Doom” is the follow-up to the rather highly acclaimed, Gold-in-the-US-achieving “Dark Light”. The follow-up is described by the lead singer Ville Valo as "Like a trip into my personal hell to a certain extent"’. Never has a truer word been spoken, in my humble opinion. It is meant to mark, a heavier, more sparse sounding direction for the band. Gone are most of the keyboard sounds which flashed through the previous effort, and with them I feel a little bit of the spark has gone too.

“Venus Doom” is the opening track, a strange one, as it sounds to me like during the chorus it is going to burst into “I Can’t Help Falling in Love with You” by Elvis Presley – not a great start to the proceedings unfortunately. Other tracks suffer from different shortcomings: “Love in Cold Blood” swiftly turns into an overlong, slightly pompous prog rock song – with but a hint of electronic stylings to keep things ticking along – listenable, but not great. Unfortunately so it goes on. “The Kiss of Dawn” is a slow rock ballad affair with a quite nice tune, but again comes across as slightly dull amidst all the rock harmonics and power soloing.

“Sleepwalking Past Hope” is an exceptionally long track, clocking in at well past the ten minute mark. It’s OK, with some nice vocal work from Mr. Valo – but I don’t think it can fully justify the absurd length of the track – even though the psychedelic ending is nice. “Song or Suicide” is a bit different, a bit short, a bit melancholy and quite pleasing generally; by far my most preferred track of the set. “Cyanide Sun” is the last track to feature – and quite a nice, dreamy closing track it is too, with some good vocal work again – if only there could have been more like this!

Overall, despite the amount of layering and genuinely good vocal work done, the album does little for me in terms of the songs themselves. It is as if some of the weakest ideas are stretched out far too long, while some of the best ideas are left criminally short. Overall, a pretty average follow-up release, even considering the producer (most notably of U2), Tim Palmer. I felt this release was slightly old-fashioned, and lacking a certain something special. As always it will appeal to those who support this kind of music, yet from a purely neutral point of view, it doesn’t seem to offer anything either new or indeed different. A pretty average follow-up I’m afraid.