» HIM (His Infernal Majesty) Biography
by Marion Phillips - October 5, 2003
His Infernal Majesty is the second Rock band from Finland to get a great success outside Scandinavia (the first was NightWish).
Better know as H.I.M., they have everything to get as big as bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath: the singer is charismatic, has a good voice and is good looking, the musicians are all competent and their music has a strong personality that has been lacking in most famous Rock bands from later years.
Once Upon A Time In North Europe…
Coming from different cities from Finland, the band members got together in 1995 in Helsinki. They were Ville Hermanni Valo, who at that time was a bassist, Mikko Lindström (a.k.a. Linde) the main guitarist and Mikko Paananen (a.k.a. Mige) who also played bass. As the band didn't need two bassists, Ville started to sing. Through a friend, Ville contacted Juhana Rantala (a.k.a. Pätkä), who joined them as drummer. That was when they chose the eccentric name of the band.
Their first show was in Helsinki in December 1995, when H.I.M. was the support band of Kauko Rövhkä, but this show was a disaster because the public thought that His Infernal Majesty was a nickname of Kauko and they got disappointed with the band's sound and with the technical problems the band was having onstage.
They used to play many covers then, because they didn't have enough material to play live. A few of the bands they used to cover were Type O' Negative, Kiss, Black Sabbath and Depeche Mode.
In their second show they asked for a friend of theirs called Janne Puurtinen (a.k.a. Burton) to play keyboards in their Type O' Negative covers. Years later he would become a permanent member of the band.
H.I.M.'s first EP was released in 1996, called "666 Ways To Love - Prologue", and this EP already contained the cover of Chris Isaak's "Wicked Game" that would help them get known later on. In this record another guitarist played with them, Oki, but he didn't last long among them, because he had an affair with Pätkä's girlfriend...
After the release of the EP, their keyboardist was changed to Antto Melasniemi, who was one of Ville's friends. In that year, 1997, they released their first record "Greatest love songs vol. 666" which had some good songs like their version of Blue Oyster Cult's "(don't fear) The reaper", and their "The Heartless" and "Our Diabolikal Rapture".
H.I.M.'s second album was meant to have the name "Slippery When Dead", a kind of homage to Bon Jovi's first album. It was meant to be released in 1999, but because of internal problems, it was postponed. Antto left the band in 1998 and was replaced by Jussi-Mikko Salminen (a.k.a. Zoltan Pluto or Juska). His first show with the band was in Germany in 1998 still. In that same year, they also played in Austria and Switzerland.
The H.I.M. guys worked hard on the new record all through 1999 and as Pätkä decided to quit the band, because of the birth of his son, he was substituted by Mika Karppinen (a.k.a. Gas Lipstick or Kaasu). As they had recorded the album using a drum machine before they got Gas as drummer, they decided to re-record everything in Wales.
In spite of all tribulations, the album was even better than the first and although it had lost a little of the dark mood from the previous work, it had more weight and a sound that resembled that of the best 70's and 80's Rock bands.
It was called "Razorblade Romance" and it featured the songs "Poison Girl", "Resurrection", "Right Here In My Arms" and the beautiful Type O' Negative-like "Gone With The Sin", among others. One of its singles, "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 single was the first Finnish Rock song to reach #1 outside Scandinavia.
It was then that H.I.M. started to get known in Central and East Europe and their fan-base in Germany got even stronger. That country remains, after their homeland, the main center of their success.
In 2000, their album went to the top of the charts in Finland, Germany, and Austria, and through the year, they released several singles from it that would all reach good positions in the Top Ten Rock charts. By the end of that year they had already sold 80,000 copies of their album only in Finland and by January 2001, the sales reached 1 million copies in Europe.
Almost At The Top Of The Mountain
H.I.M.'s third album was meant to be called "Ozzymandias Dargunum" (yes, the band members have a
good sense of humor). They started to record it by the end of 2000 and their intention was to make a more melodic album.
Juska left the band in early 2001, to concentrate on his studies and Burton was called to replace him. Another problem Ville and his friends had to face then, was that some people from their record company at that time, the German BMG, wanted them to change things in their appearance and sound.
They had to fight a lot to keep some control on their work and maybe that was one of the reasons why they didn't renew their contract with the powerful BMG this year.
Back to 2001, they started to shoot the video of "Pretending" before the release of the album and the problems with the record company guys continued, this time the matter was that the producers were changed during the recording.
The result was that, either for this reason or another, the critics didn't like the album and the sales weren't as big as they had been previously. In July 2001,their first single "Pretending" was released and then in August the re-baptized album "Deep Shadows and Brilliant Highlights" was put in the market. The album sold 100,000 copies in Finland in 2 weeks and in November that year it had sold already 400,000 in Europe and America.
H.I.M. toured England in 2001 still and their shows in London were a great success, the first one, for example, was sold out in 2 days and they also were the support band of the legendary The Mission. By the end of that year, they started the biggest tour that a Finnish Rock band ever did and played all over Europe.
The Top Of The Mountain Is Right There
After their successful tour, they took a deserved rest in the beginning of 2002. By the end of that year, their "Razorblade Romance" album was released in the US, but as there was another band in Chicago, which had the same name as they have, they had to use the acronym H.E.R. (His Evil Royalty, maybe?) for some time until they bought the name from the Americans.
At that time, it was released in Finland the first book about them, by the journalist Juho Juntunen, with the name "Synnin Viemää"(Gone With The Sin, in Finnish).
The recording for H.I.M.'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 has actress Juliette Lewis starring it, and the other is "Funeral Of Hearts" that was shot in Lapland.
Then in March 2003, "Funeral..." was released and remained for two weeks as #1 in Finland and #3 in Germany. To promote their new album, they offered a free show in Hamburg in which they played all their new songs. Still in March, the guitarist Linde's first daughter was born, and inevitably, rumors that he was going to leave the band started but were untrue.
In April the new album "Love Metal" was released, featuring "The Sacrament", "Circle Of Fear", among
other very good songs with the mixture of melodic tunes and heavy guitars that
are typical of their sound.
H.I.M. is currently touring Europe and last month they accepted the proposal of the Universal record company to represent them in America. Now they're looking for some company to represent them in Europe. They are scheduled to open the shows of Ozzy Osbourne, one of their greatest idols, this year still.
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Copyright © 2003 Marion Phillips