After pumping out several so-so albums based on an increasingly redundant gloom-pop formula, Finnish mope kings H.I.M. have done the unexpected by abandoning the style they've increasingly relied on. Instead, Venus Doom is a much heavier and more varied record whose nine songs are loosely conceptualized as the nine levels of Dante's Inferno. Pretty cheery stuff! But the experimentation pays off. The band swerves between dense, trudging grooves like Sabbath-meets-Jesu and a noticeable amount of rhythmic progression, while pale-skinned crooner Ville Valo conjures up more than his usual share of sedated demons and plenty of Lovecraft-inspired gothy mixed-metaphor action.