Ville Valo has never quit music.
Known for being the iconic singer of the Finnish Gothic Rock/Metal band HIM until 2017, when the band ended its activities, the vocalist had already announced his solo project, VV. In 2022, the man announced the arrival of Neon Noir, his new album.
With Echolocate Your Love, the vocalist immediately confirms that his voice is still as bewitching, but also that we missed this as catchy as pure sound. The track takes advantage of the Electro additions to reveal energetic sounds, then Doom influences reappear on Run Away From the Sun and its soothing touches carried by a slow and heavy rhythmic, a rumbling bass as well as soaring vocal touches, like the mysterious Neon Noir, the eponymous composition, which will make us sail between catchy riffs and sharper harmonics. The vocal alternation remains as mastered and appreciable as ever, followed by the progressive and soft Loveletting which offers dark touches, sometimes broken by a more lively chorus. The Foreverlost follows to couple a thick and powerful instrumental basis with incredibly soothing vocals enhanced with choirs, recreating the contrast we all love, letting Baby Lacrimarium reveal its softness and intensity. The vocalist once again leads the way, relegating the instrumental to the background to accentuate some parts such as this impressive break before Salute the Sanguine places soothing tones again accompanied by haunting vocals. After a hypnotic last chorus, the final slowly leads us to In Trenodia and its catchy Rock accents which also let a melancholic basis express itself before Heartful of Ghosts reveals an eerie and dark sound. The track slowly progresses to a dissonant and oppressive break before vocals express themselves again, accompanied by majestic keyboards, then Saturnine Saturnalia comes to offer heavy sounds borrowed from Stoner/Doom as well as from Gothic roots. The intense clean voice answers heavy riffs where piercing leads are invited before the long and bewitching final carries us to Zener Solitaire, a progressive and soaring instrumental track. But it is rather short, and it will give way to Vertigo Eyes, the last composition, which lets the musician give life to his slow melancholy again in the company of soft and soothing melodies, sometimes completed by saturated and heavy roots, before gradually fading away.
Softer but also sometimes darker than the tracks created with HIM, Ville Valo still knows how to express himself with his Rock, Gothic and Doom roots. Neon Noir tends to be soothing, but also surprising and bewitching from beginning to end, while progressing in the shadows.