HEARTBANGER – Through The Dark (2016)
“Through The Dark” is the debut album by HEARTBANGER, project led by Spanish musician / songwriter Xavi Méndez, self-released some time ago and not easy to find.
A skilled guitar player, for this recording Xavi has been accompanied by some friends and popular names of the local and international AOR scene. The debut includes collaborations from people like Tony Mills (SHY, TNT), Gabrielle De Val (The Val), Manu Esteve (Hardreams), Alberto Fernandez (Tokio), among many others.
Heartbanger style is focused in classic 80s AOR – Journey, Strangeways, FM, Foreigner and alike are mentioned as influences – heavy on keyboards, vocal harmonies and catchy choruses.
After a brief intro we are hit with the beautiful sound of Fernandez’s keys and we know where the song is heading. Esteve’s vocals combine with the soaring guitar to play off each other making ‘The Last Chance Night’ a perfect introduction to what lies ahead.
Enter the beautiful female tones of De Val and we have ‘You Came On Time’, a wonderful soulful song with the musicianship delivering the perfect melody to supplement the vocals.
Title track ‘Through The Dark’ is a perfect showcase for Mills’ range, a voice that could sing the telephone directory to perfection. The song’s edgy guitar work makes this possibly the album’s highlight.
The instrumental ‘Always Remembered’ follows and is a showcase for the band’s individual talents and the sum of all the parts work really well together.
‘The Only Thing’ is a midtempo with ‘that’ AOR atmospheres created by synths, clean guitars and smooth vocals by Esteve. One of my favorites.
The next track, ‘Tierras de la Libertad’, is sung entirely in Spanish and features a guest performance on vocals by Angel Rubin. It’s easily the heavier tracks here, a rocker with a vintage feel.
‘In Heaven’ has some structures and arrangements that makes you think of second half of the ’80s British AOR, even German. There’s an instrumental closing the album, ‘Night Drive’, where Xavi tries something different with twist haere and there buy always in the melodic rock pattern.
“Through The Dark” is a very cool ’80s inspired album, one made all that more special by the quality guest vocal performances.
It’s a great start for Mendez and his project, and will definitely be appreciated by fans of Eighties, hook-laden AOR. Production is a bit thin, sounding like a good pre-production demo at places, but it doesn’t distract from the strong material on offer.
I am looking forward to hearing more.
01 – Intro
02 – The Last Chance Time
03 – You Came On Time
04 – Through The Dark
05 – Always Remembered
06 – The Only Thing
07 – Tierras De La Libertad
08 – In Heaven
09 – Night Drive
Xavi Mendez – guitars
Alberto Fernandez (Tokio) – keyboards
Paco Munoz – drums
Luis Alvarez – bass
Tony Mills (SHY, TNT) – lead vocals 1, 4
Manu Esteve (Hardreams) – lead vocals 2, 6, 8
Gabrielle De Val (The Val) – lead vocals 3
Angel Rubin – lead vocals 7
Ricard Flores – bass on 2
Marc Llado – bass on 6
BUY IT !