Almost three years ago Netherlands’ Graceless debuted their first studio album via Raw Skull Rekordz. The collaboration between the growing label and the outfit began in 2016 which has resulted in a successful relationship. Raw Skull Rekordz is proud to reveal the sophomore album “Where Vultures Know Your Name“. With the same members from the debut album “Shadowlands”, the line-up includes veteran musicians such as bassist Jasper Aptroot from Nailgun Massacre, vocalist/guitarist Remco Kreft and drummer Marc Verhaar from Soulburn and guitarist Bjorn Bruse. Graceless long-awaited sophomore is a churning mid-paced death/doom metal fully laden with crushing sections of doom full riffs. Since the debut, the outfit emphasized the sharp heavy riffs, bringing aggression and gloomy atmosphere altogether.
While the measured approach towards old school death/doom metal is what personifies them, there is a nuance of Asphyx and Bolt Thrower mashed in the songs. Graceless style somehow rose from these classic methods and managed to adapt to modern and old school death metal style simultaneously. Although the outfit avoids the contemporary style of cavernous death/doom metal, preferring to prowl closely to the 90’s old school death metal. And this what differentiates them from the current trend. Graceless traces the roots of the early 90’s death metal when such bands like Winter and Decomposed introduced the slow tempos and the deep growls to this sub-genre. Graceless mainly focuses on thunderous guitar riffs, leads and scorching solos. The effort to preserve one’s sound surfaced on the debut album and the music was exclusively rooted in the style of Dutch death metal bands a la Asphyx. The veteran quartet processed a brutal tonality along with the crushing riffs and percussion bombardment.
The slow death march of the opening track Lugdunum Batavorum is utilized by the powerful tone of buzzing riffs and the deep growls of Remco Kreft. Graceless immediately accentuates the crushing vibe of death/doom metal, broadening on a vigorous sound as the melodies slowly begin to swirl. The twin guitars launch fiery solos with plenty of hooks to make you bang your head. The crushing impulses of the drums are adjusted into mid-tempo.
The second track Retaliation of the Wicked is a massive rampart of sluggish riffs and heavy grooves. Performed at the up-tempo blast of the drums, Graceless sets an intense formula to the album. You can sense energetic chemistry between the dual guitars, drums, and bass. Commander of Christ begins with a pulverizing tone where the thundering thud of the double bass is brilliantly performed by Marc Verhaar.
The meatiness of the riffs and strength of the bass guitar emits superb sonic waves. The aptitude and prowess proves how the band has evolved through the last years, there is an effective quality in the guitar department. The mastery work of solos and lead guitars are impressively written. Nine Days of Mourning shows the hidden talent of the band. The opening bass line is so infectious, the aggressive artillery fires extreme riffs and the drum beats sound like a howitzer cannon.
The biggest improvement comes in the guitar department where Remco Kreft and Bjorn Bruse provides many crunchy riffs. Therefore the riffs are massively weighted, Here be Dragons, for example, is launched by thunderous grooves. The growls are intense and perfectly fitted to the mid-tempo style that is mastered by these Dutch veterans. The short piano intro on the eponymous provides a gloomy theme. Nevertheless, the track contains some powerful dose of sludgy riffs. And then Warpath suddenly bursts into d-beat where the pummeling impact of grooves burst violently.
The strength lays in the variety of the riffs from the refined solos and epic lead guitars. The combination of raw elements of old school death metal is rife, though it’s not all doom and gloom. The finale Embrace the Rain is an epic track layered with fine melodies and clean spoken words.
Graceless proves that the Dutch underground scene is still alive and kicking, Where Vultures Know Your Name is a fine sophomore and thus far one of my favorite releases of the year 2020!
For fans of Asphyx, Hail of Bullets and Grand Supreme Court.
Release Date: March 27th, 2020
Label: Raw Skull Recordz
- Lugdunum Batavorum
- Retaliation of the Wicked
- Commander of Christ
- Nine Days of Mourning
- Here Be Dragons
- Where Vultures Know Your Name
- Embrace The Rain