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Heir Apparent – Graceful Inheritance

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Last Updated on 03:04 PM by Giorgos Tsekas

Genre: Heavy Metal/Power
Country: U.S.A.
Label: Hammerheart Records (original: Black Dragon Records)
Release date: 21.01.2022 (original: 1986)

Seattle 1983. First in order of power/heavy metal scenes’ succession, Heir Apparent proved themselves more than worthy heirs to the throne. Terry Gorle’s dream of forming a band, though he had several proposals of recording a solo guitar album (even by Queensryche’s manager at the times, Kim Harris and EMI), came true when he formed up with vocalist Paul Davidson, bassist Derek Peace, and drummer Ray Schwartz aka Raymond Black.  A true gem for underground metal scene- and not only- “Graceful Inheritance” was originally a vinyl-only release.  Black Dragon Records, an independent French label, re-released “Graceful Inheritance” on CD in 1986, making it the first CD released by an independent label in Europe. The irony here still lies in the fact that the album was never released (within ‘80s) in the US, group’s home country. This same year the band toured France, Netherlands, and Germany, starting as support act, but ending as headliner on tour with Savage Grace!

Celebrating “Graceful Inheritance” 36th anniversary, the less we could do is dig a bit deeper in bands’ history.

Most people don’t know that Paul Davidson and Terry Gorle were already playing together in a band named “Renegade” back in 1981, doing covers of Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and Scorpions.   Derek Peace, Jim Kovach (fist band’s drummer), and Terry played in a band dating back to 1980. In the early days, Gorle bought a PA system, rented a house with a basement and built a soundproof rehearsal room, where they started writing songs and rehearsing almost every day. They booked time in the studio to record their first album in July of 1984, and recorded firstly 5 songs. “Keeper of the Reign” and “Tear Down the Walls” received local radio play, and so the band started sending tapes out to magazines. By 1985 they began recording the rest of album. After having sent those tapes to various magazines, Black Dragon made contact with the band and helped them finish and release the album in Europe, in January ’86. The response from most of the European press was great.

With the original plan though being recording “Graceful Inheritance” in 1984 with Kim Harris, with twice the recording budget, a US deal, and professional management with major label contacts, can’t help but wonder how much different band’s path would have been if this dream-deal came true.

When band’s European tour was over, there were less than limited resources to keep on going and move forward for another album. Essentially, the band had to start over. Following the departure of lead vocalist Paul Davidson in 1987, Steve Benito took over singing duties, starting a new more melodic chapter for the band, being finally able to release in 1989 their second (out of three in total) album “One Small Voice”.

Songwriting in “Graceful Inheritance” is varied; with mid-paced, up-tempo and speed full tracks.  “Graceful Inheritance” with sing-along choruses gets you from the very beginning. Every song in this album is unique. The album could be easily being related to traditional heavy and power metal style, with generally short and fast songs, while vocally resembles at some points to Queensryche’s “The Warning”. Omnipresent kick-ass bass that change from rhythm to lead lines, with excellent, colorful guitar solos and leads. Among the highlights are “The Cloak” and “Tear Down the Walls”. “Tear Down the Walls” works perfectly as a mid-paced catchy song, with an excellent chorus and very well written. Lead guitars and bass lines are remarkable. 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. All songs are rather short, wisely hovering around the three-minute mark. Remarkable is as well the cover artwork by Queensryche’s artist Matt Bazemore.

The band stayed inactive until 2000 when guitarist Terry Gorle was invited to perform at Wacken Open Air festival. Gorle reunited with the original rhythm section of Ray Schwartz and Derek Peace, with addition of Michael James Flatters on vocals. Following that comeback performance, Terry Gorle led several different lineups in concerts between 2002 and 2004, performing also in Europe in 2006, headlining Germany’s Keep It True festival, and two additional shows in Greece. In January 2012, performed with Jeff Carrell on vocals at the Metal Assault II Festival in Germany, with additional concerts in Athens and Thessaloniki Greece in celebration of the 25th anniversary of the album. During 2016 Heir Apparent co-headlined festival concerts in Greece at Up The Hammers and Germany at Keep It True.

The upcoming 2022’s “Graceful Inheritance” re-release by Hammerheart Records will include an LP coming as 180 grams audiophile vinyl, and a CD as a deluxe edition with slipcase. It has been remastered by Toneshed Studios (Trouble, Pestilence, Dead Head). With track list including all thirteen songs, this re-release should be a great opportunity to get a copy of this masterpiece, in case you don’t already have one. A must-have album for anyone’s 80’s Metal collection.

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