Graceless – Chants From Purgatory

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Death/doom quartet Graceless returns with their third full-length album 'Chants from Purgatory' out via Raw Skull Recordz on September 30th. In 2016 the bold partnership of this Dutch outfit was established by Jesper Aptroot (bass), Marc Verhaar (drums), Björn Brusse (guitars) and Remco Kreft (vocals, guitars) generating a formula that is in a class of its own. Through impressive old-fashioned riffs the band fuses abrasive riffing with churning drums providing an energetic, but stately feel. While the guitar arrangements on the album combine caustic qualities, they make the music effectively impactful. The grinding drums and distorted bass guitar bring a sense of might.

Graceless launches its blazing grooves with lead guitars serving as a thrilling element to the composition. Imposing a formidable pace on the opening salvo ‘Giants’ mixes melancholic melodies with masterful guitars, adding a crushing tone to the music. The approach of the Dutch musicians proves that Graceless has inherited great experience in crafting some of the best riffs in the modern death/doom metal genre. Offering eight colossal tracks of merciless aggression the sound of the booming guitars and the monolithic pacing is simply powerful.

The album’s title track is played in a grand and vehement manner: in addition to the main riff it builds up a menacing atmosphere in which the melodies are flawlessly executed. Though most of the tracks uncover various elements, they are measured in a perfect riff structure. For instance, ‘The Gates of the Gallows’ builds up an infectious pace at a crushing mid-tempo. With prowling riffs and a slow marching percussion, the pacing shifts to sheer melodic dimension. The sleek insertion of the lead guitars is perfectly layered and the solos are stately electrifying.

The same approach is improvised on the following track ‘This Ends with the Worlds in Ruins’ where the guitars smoothly transition to a musical spectrum, filling the breadth of the song. Fans are likely to experience some fine guitar lines as there are plenty of catchy melodies, The music balances the progression where the rich guitars just sound crushingly heavy. The dynamics of the album capture the swelling tone of the guitars. On other tracks, the Dutch quartet boasts a remarkable performance with ‘Saint’ being one of the standout songs. The blazing guitars make a grand opening for this song with enormous death metal riffs while the drums incline to full fury and aggression.

Striking solos, melodies, and growling vocals rebound in a titanic blast where the tempo constantly alternates between double kicks and smooth progression. Graceless managed to bring a diverse set of songs. Though the dynamics are well measured, you could grasp some common qualities to bands like Asphyx and Bolt Thrower. Monolithic doomy riffs are well-placed throughout the songs and they instantly grab you with the quality of the riffing. The melodic blend is the highlight feature of the third album which in my opinion lays a great groundwork for such melodic diversity.

The pacing always occurs at the right moments, allowing for slower passages to introduce a new melodic and doomy element. The vocals on the album are extremely raw which adds to the ferocious and abrasive tone of the guitars. The chilling opening of ‘Nyctophilia’ has plenty of slower moments where the guitar creates a somber mood that takes you to a grim procession. Slow doomy riffs take hold of these tracks and the gloomy lead guitars move into a mournful dirge. ‘Chants from Purgatory’ stands as the band’s most melodic album. Despite the heaviness the songs are surprisingly emotive. ‘Blood of the Brave’ churns out crushing double bass, but never losses its organic feel. Throughout the album the guitar department exploits its technical prowess.

Though the tracks on the album have a similar tone, Graceless managed to bring out effective riffs and made them flow together constantly. The final track ‘Time Has Come for Us All’ offers profuse melodies, yet somehow retains the heaviness and aggression, especially in the drumming department. The lead guitars seem to reach their climax with the melodies spewing gloom midway through the track. The music drags you deep into a dark and atmospheric sensibility before unleashing a slab of nifty death metal riffs.

 

REVIEW SCORE

  • Music / Songwriting 9/10
  • Vocals / Lyrics 8/10
  • Mix / Production 9/10
  • Artwork & Packaging 8/10
  • Originality 8/10
8.4

Finally, this is a great album, flawlessly executed by these Dutch gentlemen who have crafted a memorable album. ‘Chants from Purgatory’ is a worthy addition to the band’s catalog.

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