Most metal bands play as if every gnarled riff, every tricky time signature is a direct extension of their manhood. Melody and heart-on-the-sleeve lyrics are generally frowned upon because really, who wants to be accused of having smaller tallywhackers than the dudes in Lamb of God?
Thankfully, Finland's H.I.M. (short for His Infernal Majesty) cuts through metal's machismo with emotive goth rock that's hermetically sealed in tight black leather. The band dubs its sound "love metal" and sports sterling silver "heartagrams," a nifty fusion of a heart and a pentagram. Frontman Ville Vallo sings in a perpetual sigh, as if he either woke up with a hangover or is about to have an orgasm. Shadowy synth and lush guitar percolate behind him on the band's U.S. debut, Razorblade Romance, a huge hit overseas, where it was released in 2000.
In Europe, H.I.M. headlines arenas; in America, it's got a cult following that snapped up most tickets to the band's debut U.S. tour a month in advance (including its sold-out stop at the Odeon this Thursday). Much of H.I.M.'s Stateside audience comes from an unlikely source: the punk-infatuated skater community. An early fan of the band was Bam Magera, the outlaw skater of CKY and Jackass fame, who directed a pair of its videos. With hardcore favorites 18 Visions opening the show, the night should be a punchy mix of aggression and eyeliner.