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A taste of Finland - HIM rocks the Center Stage in Atlanta

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On Tuesday evening, fans adorned in gothic clothing, extreme hairstyles and heartagrams wrapped a line around the Center Stage music venue in Atlanta, Georgia. Despite seeming stereotypical, the alternative attire was only fitting in support of HIM, the band the crowd hyped up to see.

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HIM is a Helsinki, Finland native rock band founded in 1991 by vocalist Ville Valo. They were the first Finnish band to receive an RIAA gold certified album in the United States. Though generally categorized as rock music, close followers of the band classify HIM's music into a unique genre called "Love Metal", aptly named after the group's fourth studio album release in 2003.

The venue doors opened up shortly after 7:00 P.M. and the general admission standing area filled up by the time opening band Anathema took the stage. Though the English progressive rock band was new to many, there were also a number of enthusiastic supporters that sang along through the short yet powerful six song set. Anathema ended their set with a melodic song titled "Fragile Dreams", which had a notably similar musical style to many of HIM's songs.

More fans managed to pack into the pit as the lights dimmed and "Lucifer's Chorale" resounded through the room. HIM drummer Mika "Gas Lipstick" Karppinen was first out on stage as he took seat behind his drums. Mikko "Mige" Paananen (bass), Mikko "Linde" Lindstrom (guitar) and Janne "Burton" Puurtinen (keyboard) followed suit as they filled out the stage. Valo was all charm and smiles as he took a quick sip of beer before erupting into "Buried Alive By Love". Wasting no time to get the crowd energized, they continued with their arguably most well known single in the U.S., "Wings of a Butterfly", from 2005 RIAA certified gold album Dark Light. The third song was another crowd favorite titled "Right Here in My Arms", from HIM's second studio album Razorblade Romance.

Despite the release of their eighth studio album Tears on Tape just last year, only two tracks from it - "All Lips Go Blue" and "Into The Night" - were incorporated into HIM's set. The remainder of the night evoked HIM's earlier days, with highlights including: "Join Me in Death" and "For You". "The Funeral of Hearts" was the last song played before the band left the stage, with Valo wishing the crowd a modest goodnight - and a hint that they might play a few more songs if it sounded like the crowd had any interest.

As expected, claps and foot stomps rattled the room, accompanied by chants and cheers for "HIM" and "Ville Valo". The rockers waited just long enough to tease the crowd before returning to the stage and concluding with encore performances of "It's All Tears" and "When Love And Death Embrace" from their 1997 debut album Greatest Love Songs Vol. 666. HIM received the Golden God Award for "Most Dedicated Fans" in 2013, and it showed as starry-eyed "himsters" (the term given to loyal followers of HIM) hung around wishing for more, despite an impressively long 17 song set list.

HIM will be on tour until April 4th, when they conclude their spring run in Buenos Aires, Argentina. They are scheduled to perform later this year as part of the Helldone and Soundwave music festivals.

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