(10/10) Seldomly it happens that what you wish to happen also becomes real. It seems to stay a dream that never unfolds its beauty. One of these things is a new album of no less than Seattle-based prog metal legends of Heir Apparent.
The quintet from the Amercian West Coast had two awesome releases during the second half of the eighties. The brilliant debut ‘Graceful Inheritance’ is still a genre classic and also the sophomore album ‘One Small Voice’ is an album you must have heard as being a metal fan.
Unfortunately, things cooled down during the 90’s and the third album couldn’t be realized – up until now. Autumn of 2018 is supposed to change things in a dramatic fashion. Already the announcement of a third Heir Apparent album, 29 years after ‘One Small Voice’ has been unveiled, created a lot of excitement and the fact, that three members of the original line-up are on board created even higher expectations. A crucial position though that needed to be filled in was the singer, epically since the demanding vocal lines are a key characteristic of Heir Apparent’s sound.
At the end of a long search, it is Will Shaw who joined the band in 2015 and it is keyboarder Op Sakiya that completes the line-up of Heir Apparent.
On October 15th this year the wait is over. No Remorse Records launches the first Heir Apparent album in three decades and what should I say, it’s a terrific longplayer. In one or another way the band picks it up where they left in 1989 while also having a fresh and dynamic sound. Heir Apparent created a sound that can be identified immediately as being from the Seattle-based quintet. Guitars, vocals and songwriting have their rather unique characteristics and all of this is present on ‘The View From Below’. While embracing all the heritage from the past, Heir Apparent also added a new touch to their songs, which makes their sound even more relevant.
The eight-stop journey through the beauty of progressive metal starts with some samples of spoken words before the guitar joins. Already these first chords are more than just music. It’s already a statement that wipes away all potential doubts if Heir Apparent could live up to the high expectation. They can for sure, not only from an instrumental perspective but also when it comes to vocals. Will Shaw does an excellent job on ‘The View From Below’. His vocals range goes from rougher vocals to higher pitches and screams that are impressive.
A highlight among highlights is ‘The Door’, which is next on the tracklist. The tune creates a hypnotic fascination and builds on a repeating motif that characterizes the song. There is no way to escape from the magic of ‘The Door’ after having heard the tune the first time.
‘Here We Aren’t’ is a rather soulful song on the album. It starts with a piano, that’s joined by emotive vocals. The track gains dynamic along the way but stays in a calmer mode. The song catches you with its emotional impact.
The heavier tones are back with ‘Synthetic Lies’, a song that shares a dark and oppressive atmosphere before Heir Apparent shifts gears with ‘Savior’. Not only that the song is the shortest one on the album, it’s also the pace that increases dramatically.
It’s the counterparts on the album that makes things so exciting and entertaining. After having listened to the uptempo crusher ‘Savoir’ it is the epic ‘Further and Farther’ that brings back the big soundscapes. This tune is about seven minutes of exquisite music that has the potential to last forever. The cinematic ‘The Road to Palestine’ follows a similar pattern as ‘Further and Farther’ before some chiming bells introduce ‘Insomnia’. The six minutes long closer is another milestone in progressive metal, build on a great guitar sound, a booming bass and hard hitting drums. Heir Apparent manages as almost no other to fuse complexity and melody in a way that it excites the first time you listen to it, but also has enough substance for many more spins.
‘The View From Below’ is more than just a sign of life of one of the most impactful progressive metal bands. It’s a rock solid statement that Heir Apparent is back. Hopefully, this album is more than just spark. It would be awesome if ‘The View From Below’ is the glorious start into a second era of Heir Apparent. This album lifts the bar of future prog metal releases a lot.
- Man in the Sky
- The Door
- Here We Aren’t
- Synthetic Lies
- Further and Farther
- The Road to Palestine
Label: No Remorse Records
Genre: Progressive Metal
Release Date EU: October 15th, 2018