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Graceless – Shadowlands

graceless – shadowlands

In all honsety, this is the kind of death metal album the world was waiting for. Or I was waiting for it, at least. With the demise of forerunners like Bolt Thrower or Hail of Bullets, it was time for a new old school death metal war machine to arise. Well, and here we have Graceless. Founded in 2016 by Remco Kreft (Soulburn, ex-Nailgun Massacre, ex-Grand Supreme Blood Court, etc. etc.), he teamed up once again with his old Xenomorph buddies Jasper Aptroot (bass) and Marc Verhaar (drums), with guitarist Björn Brusse added to complete the line up. The intent of these gentlemen is clear: relentless death metal. They were soon picked up by Raw Skull, an obvious combination, you might say. The entire album breeds the atmosphere of European death metal from the early to mid nineties. The foundation sounds typically Dutch, brooding death metal with strategically placed pace changes that add tons of dynamics and keep the songs interesting and individually separable. Fortunately the production isn’t overdone and provides plenty of open space to let the music breed and fester. The drums sound organic, the guitars have a gutwrenching crunch with the bass sludging underneath. The vocals don’t do anything weird, a low and guttural grunt with a nice gurgle, intelligible yet menacing. What really elevates the album above many of its contemporaries are the very tasteful guitar leads and harmonies. Fast and frenetic or slow and melancholic, they always show an excellent taste for melody. I know there are tons of retro old school death metal albums coming out, but in my opinion, many of these never really hit the right feel. In the case of Graceless, one can be sure they do hit the spot. The quality of the production, songs and sound make this album more than relevant in our era, but with the true old school feel always lurking in the depths like a Great Old One. (Stijn)