Wednesday, 25th April 2018. 6:39:28am ET
Reviews CD Reviews Gothic Hearts Fail- The Empty Promise


Artist: Hearts Fail
CD Title: The Empty Promise
Label: self-released
Reviewer: Joshua Heinrich
Date: 9/4/04

Rising from the San Antonio underground music scene after gaining notoriety based on their live performances, Hearts Fail have now emerged with their studio debut, The Empty Promise. Notably mastered by Rick Joyce of The Last Dance and The Prophetess fame, the disc's 8 tracks showcase a moody and melodic yet energetic and occasionally upbeat blend of retro post-punk and modern goth rock. The band's sound is, at times, slightly comparable to bands like Joy Division and The Chameleons and, at other times, more akin to moody new wave rock outfits like Simple Minds and New Order, whose influence seems to be lingering over the album's 4th track, "Crashing Waves".

The band's sound follows something of a classic goth rock formula; an atmospheric blend of intertwining keyboards and guitars with a danceable bass and drum anchor. Roberto Medina's emotive lead guitar snakes around Michael Lampe's steady bass and Ruben Salazar's proficient drumming, filled out by Clint Kingsbery's lush keyboard backing. Vocalist Edward Wagner's attempt at a sometimes Ian Curtis-esque wobbly off-key delivery, while occasionally hitting its mark, often comes off as untrained rather than endearing (a problem that is, perhaps, accentuated by the straightforward, effects-free vocal takes found here). His lyrics, while generally good, are also sometimes subject to criticism with lines like "Let's go to a club, let's dance, show us a good time, romance". However, despite the occasional flub and the aforementioned flaws, The Empty Promise is an exceptionally well written and performed atmospheric goth rock album.

Things kick off on a strong note with the great bass-driven "Make Up" before "Architects of Love" follows it up with what is arguably the album's most memorable rhythm guitar hook and some of the band's best melodic work. "Brother", "Crashing Waves", "Piper", and "Separate" are all strong offerings that fall into the more upbeat danceable retro rock/new wave category. The amazing "Wishing Well" almost enters Corpus Delicti territory with its driving rhythm, moody vocals, predominant synth foundation, and wailing guitar work, while the album-closing "Out of Touch" backs goth rock with lush keyboards for a fairly powerful yet emotive finale. Overall, it's a very solid set that's full of emotion and has an abundance of infectious melodies.

The Empty Promise, despite its flaws, is an excellent goth rock album from a promising new band. Certainly recalling fairly prolific ghosts of the pasts, the band blends old and new for a great sonic formula that's atmospheric and emotional yet danceable. With a great sound and strong songwriting, it'll be interesting to see where they go from here. For now, The Empty Promise is a worthwhile introduction.

 

Hearts Fail website: www.heartsfail.com

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