Whilst fans are waiting for Finnish gothic rock superstars HIM to finish recording the follow-up to 2004's Love Metal, they can now ease the wait with this double-DVD set of videos, interviews, live clips and 'making of' movies. The true 'Love Metal Archive' package is really the first disc, and is as comprehensive as the word 'Archive' suggests.
The second, however, is a (limited edition) tribute to the love shared between frontman Ville Valo and none other than Jackass star, skateboarder, video director and No. 1 HIM fan Bam Margera - someone who seems somewhat at odds with the classical sophistication and elegance that are a large part of HIM's identity. In fact, he's a complete jackass.
First things first, though. The main disc provides a comprehensive trawl through the bands sumptuous videos, over 25 live clips, interviews with Ville and a fair bit more hidden away within its menus. The listing on the box is actually pretty useless after a while. If you want to see everything you have no choice but to dive into the A-Z menu, as the choicest cuts are hidden away there, unlisted, including a faithful live rendition of Black Sabbath's Hand Of Doom amongst other stuff.
The interviews are fun, as Ville is a garrulous chap. The videos are all gothic romance, with Funeral of Hearts being particularly evocative of the Finnish landscape with its lake-and-forest setting. Buried Alive by Love features Juliette Lewis slinking around the place and the archives go all the way back to a cover of Chris Isaak's Wicked Game (as made famous by David Lynch) that featured on both the band's first two albums.
The set is as beautifully packaged as you would expect - the lack of any real booklet does mean you need to explore, which is part of the fun anyway. The menus are gorgeous, with what I assume are HIM lyrics in Finnish floating across the screen in gothic script - the word rakkaus (Finnish for love) is in all of them. If you're a fan you really can't go wrong with this at all - it's complete, well designed, and bursting with extra goodies - that is unless you don't take too kindly to HIM's honorary sixth member, Mr Bam 'Jackass' Margera.
Disc 2 features making-of documentaries from three Bam-directed videos, plus some extra bits and pieces. Now don't get me wrong - these can be funny, entertaining and enjoyable to watch if you're in the right mood. It's just that most of the footage that could have been of, say, the band (a novel idea, maybe?) seems to be taken up with an assortment of the following:
a) Bam falling over. Cue hilarity.
b) Bam trying to skateboard over (place absurd object here). Falls over, hilarity.
c) Bam gurning into the camera, whining about things going wrong with the shoot.
d) Bam getting drunk. Occasional sightings of some mate of his called Ville Valo in the background.
The disc is entitled HIM vs BAM. If it's a contest for airtime, Bam won. If you can take that, it can (as I said) be strangely compelling - but it may anger and annoy as many fans as it pleases.
HIM have always seemed the most typically Finnish of the current Suomi Rock explosion, mixing gothic miserablism and romance with that wry, slightly self-deprecating humour. Love Archives Vol. 1 either gives you a great double-DVD set, or a comprehensive single disc with free frisbee. Either way, if you're a fan it's essential.