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A Monolithic Menace Reaches Up to Touch the Sky - 95%

whensunburnsred, April 29th, 2010

This is how power metal should always be done. You certainly cannot demand Espectre Withins and Awaken the Guardians to everybody, but the current album is the perfect example of how to develop excellent power metal with really simple elements.

Heir Apparent is one of these bands that released a few records and then stopped (Toxik, Heathen, Paradox…), leaving a gem behind. While the next album One Small Voice is rather mediocre, this one is a masterwork that every power metal fan should have listened to.

One of the strengths of Graceful Inheritance is the production; very well balanced, with a clearly audible bass – this is very important because it makes the sound very characteristic - it sounds flawless to my ears. Then, the musicianship, is mostly top-notch; with Iron Maiden-like solos all around, bass lines that would put Steve Harris to shame (for example in “Nightmare”, speed metal in all its glory) and a quite unique vocal work by Terry Gorle. The only member who doesn’t really have an outstanding performance is the drummer; just competent drumming, but nothing has caught my attention as the rest of the members did. The song writing is varied; with mid-paced, up-tempo and speed metal songs, and so is the atmosphere; with a mostly dramatic/tragic environment in the songs, but also tense moments where you can basically feel the danger coming (“The cloak”), showing versatility both in performance and song writing. In addition, Graceful Inheritance is extremely catchy, with sing-along choruses, and will get you from the very beginning. The last characteristic I’d like to point before going into details, is the succinct, yet satisfying nature of the songs; neither getting repetitive ad nauseam nor short in musical value or content.

With generally shorter and faster songs, but no Kiske vibe in the vocal department, this album can be vocally seen close to Queensryche’s The Warning. The difference is that while Terry Gorle’s voice is high-pitched as Tate’s, and dwell in the high frequencies as well, is not as hollow and opened as the latter, and much more polished and melodic instead. In fact, I find Terry Gorle’s performance to be better by singing standards, lacking the sometimes excessive falsetto singing vibe Tate has. Otherwise, thinking of a gloomier Iron Maiden will put you in the right direction of the overall band sound; omnipresent kick-ass bass that change from rhythm to lead lines, with excellent, colourful guitar solos and leads that will remind you the British heavy metal band, although the guitars are more distorted and have a more “wah, wah” sound.

Every song in the album ranges from very good to excellent, with the only exception of “Running From the Thunder”, which musically seems a bit out of place and the guitar work is quite weak. Among the highlights I would include “Nightmare”, “The Cloak” and “Tear Down the Walls”, just for the sake of not mentioning too many songs. “The Cloak” is an up-tempo song with this dramatic vibe that sums up quite well the content of the album; catchy, tasteful and elegant lead guitar work with passionate singing and a bass that will captivate you. “Tear Down the Walls” works perfectly as a mid-paced catchy song, with an excellent chorus and very well written; the lead guitars and bass lines are especially remarkable, coming into the picture by shifts, which introduces a sensation of constant change that makes this song really enjoyable. As a counterpoint, “Nightmare” is a speed metal song where the acid test is passed; all the excellent performance, melodies, good vocals that have been showed along the album, but at double speed. Result of the test: A+++.

As mentioned before, the only flaw in the album is “Running From the Thunder”. Whenever I listen to this album, when this song starts, it’s like a sudden comeback to reality, after diving into the magic world of Graceful Inheritance. The leads evoke a jazzy feeling, in the sense that they perform randomly in the background, while Gorle speak/sings (he neither speaks, nor sings everything, so it’s a strange mixture). Moreover, the solo has also the same random/improvisation structure, so it’s neither enjoyable nor as good as the other solos along the album. The chorus doesn’t work very well, it sounds annoying and bit whiny.

I recently paid for a 2nd hand copy of this one more than I would pay for a brand new cd, and I don’t regret it; every penny was worthy. This is a must for power metal fans, and if you liked this one, you should try 80s Iron Maiden and Queensryche’s The Warning. If you enjoy speed metal then you can also try Su ta Gar’s Jaiotze Basatia or Pokolgép’s Pokoli Színjáték.

Majestic - 92%

failsafeman, August 7th, 2008

The music found on Graceful Inheritance can be characterized well by one word: majestic. The melodies are strident and proud; obvious and predictable but not generic or derivative. You can feel the next note before it comes, and are satisfied when it does; there are few times if any I remember being surprised, once I was used to the band's style and quality. Like a stately procession, it progresses unhurriedly along its chosen course in pomp and glory; simply because it does the expected and continues down the road rather than jumping in the river instead does not make it boring. The music has a melancholy overtone (it's white collar USPM, after all), so perhaps it's a procession in honor of someone great who has passed away. The frequent midpaced trot (descended clearly from the NWOBHM gallop) certainly supports the idea of a procession, and the album only occasionally speeds up and gets evil for contrast (the final track being a prime example). Musical influences are similar to most white collar USPM; evolved NWOBHM elements wrapped in a Queensryche-like emotional context. Emphasis on vocal melodies, dramatic multi-tracked choruses, and guitar leads is as expected. As with The Warning, riffs take a backseat, partially because of a slight deficiency in the mix, partially because the emphasis of the songwriting lies elsewhere, but they still provide that essential foundation admirably. Is it surprising Heir Apparent are also from Seattle?

Singer Paul Davidson is what we've come to expect from the style; emotional, powerful, skilled, and not afraid to hit high notes. His tone however is not terribly distinctive, and if you imagine a typical NWOBHM singer after years of lessons you'd not be far off. Still, you can't fault the man for not being Arch or Tate, though the vocal melodies are near that level at times, and he sings them competently and with enthusiasm. The lead guitar bears special mention, with solos being quite flashy and impressive while still contributing to the overall quality of the songs, and little lead bits pop in to accent key passages. The bass also plays a prominent role, in "Dragon's Lair" for instance alternating leads with the guitar at the end of the verse riffs. Somewhat unusually, the songs are all rather short, wisely hovering around the three-minute mark. From a band prone to pomp that occasionally borders on melodrama (just listen to that ascending choral line in "The Cloak"), that kind of concision is an indispensable quality; Heir Apparent have a very good idea of how far they can go without crossing the line and losing their listener. For a perfect example, the spoken-word intro to "Keeper of the Reign" is one of the very few I've ever heard in power metal that is completely devoid of cheese; even if they had nothing else going for them, that alone would make Heir Apparent special. Luckily for us, that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Overall, not an absolute top-tier USPM album, but certainly an essential release for the serious fan.

Dont forget your dagger, and cloak! - 92%

Danthrax_Nasty, August 23rd, 2004

I got the, I guess, the original Black Dragons press of this, and its quite impressive when a band puts this much great music on one solid release. This is basically some awesome 80's Power/Heavy/True (mostly) epic traditional metal. So if your looking for an album easily supperior to most newer releases in that genre then find this. Not very cheesey, say, for the genre, but it does have its moments of cheese, but quite well done.

Etching out a strong full sound, and fair deal of originality for the time, this album has a killer epic/Power/Heavy Metal sound that is just fucking true.

The guitar work is all over, lots, and lots of interesting little spots. Shreding solos, that delve into the quite technical, not to mention all the fills, runs, and leads that are consistantly good, and just everywhere push this above tons of other shit bands that may come to mind when the word Power Metal arises. With all that said, there is also a bunch of great acoustic/clean guitar parts, endless riffs, and impressive musicianship.

The singer has a very cool voice, in my opinion, that fits the music well, and carries the anthemish chorus' with good melodies. Some cool, well sung, and in key, multi-part harmonies, and tons of cool high pitched wails that show off the singers range all done well, and recorded/mixed/etc. well. The thing that really gives the vocals a better sound is that they werent over produced like too many bands of a more current era.

Lyrics jump from various themes,...fantasy, doomish, illusions of reality, and some other interesting stuff. Not much to say about em other than there pretty cool, and a few of the chorus' are quite memorable, if you get into it.

Production overall is crisp, clear, and a well done analog recording. No complaints, this was done right.

Stand out tracks:
-Masters Of Invasion-
Hearing this you know it was recorded in the 80's. Has a cool Iron Madien-esque rythm to the verse riff. Equally catchy, the chorus is what really carries this one, but theres just so many other elements that you just gotta hear it to know this ones classicness.

-The Keeper Of The Reign-
A bit on the more cheesey/dramatic side in the begining, sorta a ballad esque type thing done in a very Metal fashion. In the second half of the song, where the tempo rises drasticly, the band really lays out the riffs, and awesome shreding solos. Great vocals through out, this track is awesome.

Overall, if you like Power/Heavy/Thrash thats a bit more on the Power/Heavy side, but with an epicness get this, or if you just like awesome 80's metal get this.