HIM - XX: Two Decades Of Love MetalI find it hard to believe any sentient being would not be utterly charmed and probably a little aroused if they listened to Finnish crooner Ville Valo murmur softly into their ear for a minute or two.

Whether you like the band’s music or not this fellow has a voice that is part evil, part romantic, part seductive and part Benson & Hedges. It is a voice that the band very much knows is its selling point and along with the dark romantic imagery, the heartagram and the cheesily gothic song titles, it has helped propel them into the charts in many countries over the years.

But Ville‘s voice alone doesn’t provide the reason for their success – he also crafts some rather catchy songs. The driving riffery and soaring melodies of ‘Funeral Of Heart’, ‘Wings Of A Butterfly’, ‘Kiss Of Dawn’ and ‘Scared To Death’ are hard to resist. Having invented their own genre (“Love Metal”) and having never strayed too far from the successful formula, HIM have successfully produced seven albums of sensually satanic pop metal over the last 20 years with little sign of slowing down.

The fact of the matter is that you either love their schtick or you find it grating. There aren’t many people who sit on the fence where these Finnish lotharios are concerned and it is that which makes this compilation album a bit of a puzzle. Containing mainly radio edits (of the tracks that were released as singles) and only one previously unreleased track (which is a cover) one wonders who this compilation is aimed at?

Your average HIM fan is not really a casual consumer of their music, and will almost certainly be an aficionado with every album in their collection and a playlist of their favourite tracks neatly and chronologically stored in their iPod. Those who don’t really like or ‘get’ the band aren’t going to be persuaded by a “Best Of” after all this time.

Assessing this purely as a collection of songs though and it’s impossible to say anything other than it’s great and the band (or more probably their record company) have picked an excellent selection for this smorgasbord of love metal. It contains 17 tracks and there isn’t a duff one among them and this compilation shows off why they have become the favourite sons of the new goth generation. If you haven’t encountered HIM before this is a neat, value for money package which will sit neatly between your Avenged Sevenfold and Type O Negative.

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