His Infernal Majesty
Better known as H.I.M., His Infernal Majesty started in December of 1995 with their debut gig in Helsinki, Finland with bassist Ville Hermanni Valo, Mikko Lindström (a.k.a. Linde; guitar) and Mikko Paananen (a.k.a. Mige; who also played bass). As the band didn't need two bassists, Hermanni started to sing. Through a friend, Hermanni contacted Juhana Rantala (a.k.a. Pätkä), who joined them as drummer. It was at this time when they also chose the eccentric name of the band.That debut 1995 Helsinki gig, in support of Kauko Rövhkä, was a disaster because the public thought that His Infernal Majesty was simply a n ickname for Kauko, believing there was no other act; the problem was further compounded when the audience got disappointed with the band's sound and with the technical problems they were having onstage. Much of their early sets was cover tracks for the likes of Type O Negative, Kiss, Black Sabbath and Depeche Mode. By their second show they asked Janne Puurtinen (a.k.a. Burton),a friend, 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 666 Ways To Love - Prologue was released in 1996 containing the cover of Chris Isaak's Wicked Game th at would help them get known later on. On this record guitarist Oki joined, but his tenure didn't last long because of his love affair with Pätkä's girlfriend. Soon after the release the keyboardist was also changed to Antto Melasniemi, who was a friend of Hermanni.
In 1997, they released their first full length record Greatest Love Songs Vol. 666 featuring their version of Blue Oyster Cult's (Don't Fear) The Reaper, as well as The Heartless and Our Diabolikal Rapture.
Their second album was originally to boast the title Slippery When Dead, a kind of homage to Bon Jovi's first album. Scheduled fora 1999 release it was postponed due to internal issues including Antto leaving in 1998 and replaced by Jussi-Mikko Salminen (a.k.a. Zoltan Pluto/a.k.a. Juska) who debuted with the band in Germany in 1998, not to mention the time consumed with a tour in Austria and Switzerland. The new album would be further delayed in 1999 when Pätkä decided to quit the band because of the birth of his son, to be was replaced by Mika Karppinen (a.k.a. Gas Lipstick/a.k.a. Kaasu).More time was consumed due to the arrival of the new drummer which meant that the album had to be re-recorded (in Wales) to replace the drum machine with his work. The resultingalbum featured little of the dark mood of the previous work, it had more weight and a sound that resembled the work of the 70's and 80's Rock bands. Now called Razorblade Romance the second album featured the songs Poison Girl, Resurrection, Right Here In My Arms and the Type O Negative-like Gone With The Sin, among others.
The spun-off single for 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 spun-off single was the first Finnish Rock song to reach #1 outside Scandinavia just as H.I.M. started to get known in Central and Eastern Europe, notto mention their fan-base in Germany getting even stronger; Germany would become, after their homeland, the main center of their success. Indeed, by 2000 their album was still floating around Europe to make it to the top of the charts in Finland, Germany, and Austria, while the singles from it would reach positionsin the Top Ten Rock charts. By the end of that year they had already sold 80,000 copies of their album in Finland alone, and by January 2001, the sales reached 1 million copies in Europe.
The third album was originally meant to be called Ozzymandias Dargunum (yes, as a good sense of humor). They started to record it by the end of 2000 and their intention was to makeit a more melodic album. But it too would be delayed by Juska leaving the band in early 2001 to concentrate on his studies, with Burton called in to replace him. Another problem arose when they faced problems from their record company, the German BMG', who were demanding the act change aspects their appearance and sound. Even during the shooting of the video of Pretending before the releaseof the album, the problems with the record company guys continued, this time the matter was the producers were changed during the recording.Needless to say by the end of the year their deal with BMG' was over.
The critics bashed the resulting re-baptized third album Deep Sh adows And Brilliant Highlights and the sales were slipping when it was released in August of 2001, the past July had seen their single for Pretending released. 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, far less than the past. H.I.M. then toured England with their show in London being a great success, the first one, for example, was sold out in 2 days supporting The Mission. By the end of that year, they started the biggest tour that a Finnish Rock band ever didby playing all over Europe.
During some downtime in 2002 their Razorblade Romance album was released inthe U.S., but there was another band in Chicago that already had the name His Infernal Majesty, so the album was sold under the band acronym H.E.R. for some time until they could arrange to buy the name from the Americans.The first book about them was also written and released at this time by the journalist Juho Juntunen, with the name Synnin Viemää (in Finnish means: Gone With The Sin) soon after.
The recording for H.I.M.'s 4th album started at the end of 2002 and this timethey 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 had actressJuliette Lewis starring in it, and the other was for Funeral Of Hearts shot in Lapland. In March 2003, Funeral Of Hearts was released as a single 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. That March, the guitarist Linde's first daughter was born, and inevitably, rumors that he was going to leave the band started but proved untrue.InApril the new album Love Metal was released, featuring The Sacrament, Circle Of Fear, among others with the mixture of melodic tunes and heavy guitars that are typical of their sound. In 20 04, however, H.I.M. was currently touring Europe and accepted the proposal by Universal' to represent them in America.and then opened the shows of Ozzy Osbourne, one of their greatest idols.
Footnote: His Infernal Majesty has made their mark on history as the second Rock band from Finland to get success outside Scandinavia (the first was NightWish).His Infernal Majesty has no relation to the Canadian Thrash Metal act Infernal Majesty.