Our music is full of mysteries that always prove to be hot topics of discussion among friends and fans. One of these mysteries is of course Heir Apparent. Sharing a common starting point with Queensryche, the Mecca of American progressive power metal called Seattle and pretty much during the same period, they didn’t manage to carve a similar mythical career although the material was of equal inspiration, quality and delivery. A band equipped with all the components required for climbing to the very top of the commercial ladder that at some point lost the road to stardom and the opportunity of well-deserved fame. Disbanding and obscurity followed. But sometimes time can prove a remedy and the Heir Apparent brand continued to exist and grow through the love and devotion of the hardcore fans of the genre. This love led to a concert oriented reactivation which eventually motivated the band in composing new material. Slowly and methodically the undisputed leader of the band Terry Gorle recruited the suitable players and started shaping his ideas into songs. Being a completionist himself, he submitted the songs between his creative hammer and anvil and forged his third full length album in a state of satisfaction and optimism. So in this article we will not look through the past trying to solve the mystery of why Heir Apparent never spearheaded the roster of a multinational record label or why they didn’t play in arenas selling millions of copies. On the contrary we are going to focus solely on the present of the band and the element that made it special in the first place. Its art.
There was a dominant question before the spinning of The View From Below. Will this be an album worthy of bearing the Heir Apparent brand? A legitimate query considering the studio hiatus of the band. The answer is given decisively and with a sense of relief. Of course it is! There are no compromises or unnecessary modernizations here. The album sounds contemporary but without being distant from the lyrical past of the band. There are no immediate sonic resemblances to the previous Heir Apparent works but then again those two albums are also miles apart from each other. A connective essence is present though, Gorle’s progressive perception that screams Seattle alongside his signature guitar sound and Derek Peace’s voluble bass lines. We also must acknowledge the contribution of the Seattle sound guru Tom Hall who finds himself once more behind the console. He surely knows how to capture Gorle’s vision better than anyone else. Will Shaw proves to be an ideal choice for a spot that could easily resemble that of an electric chair enhanced with some kind of metaphysical curse. Where needed he musters his raspy caliber in a Russel Allen way and then easily transcends to a more melodic style supporting the atmospheric parts that comprise the majority of the album. It is more than obvious that the band has invested in the creation of a somehow dark and melancholic atmosphere, crucially aided by the extended use of keyboards and layers of acoustic guitars that grace the background of all songs.
Usually I avoid making separate mentions to specific songs since I prefer writing about the general essence of and album but I feel compelled in making an exception. It’s about the best moment of the album that made and impact from the first time I listened to it. Insomnia is the closing track, a fluid, mesmerizing, enchanting composition that definitely earns a spot among the best moments in the band’s entire career. Shaw transforms into Tom Mallicoat giving us an outstanding performance. Definitely an addictive listen.
An active Heir Apparent band in both stage and studio is a luxury concerning the current heavy metal reality. The View From Below is a creation that must concern all fans of the progressive and lyrical metal with its quality and class while the upcoming band appearance in the 2019 Up the Hammers Festival as a headlining act will certainly grace us with some unforgettable moments.