Graceless – Chants from Purgatory Review

Earlier this year, I talked about the void left behind in Bolt Thrower’s absence. I mentioned a few bands who are successfully filling a bit of said void by name and alluded to a few more. The Netherlands’ Graceless is one of the latter. Back in 2020, they stormed my gates, dropping one of my favorite death metal platters of that year and earning a spot on my Honorable Mention roster with Where Vultures Know Your Name. They did so not by innovating the genre or adding some new twist to an already tried-and-true formula. Nope. They did it by faithfully executing the type of meathead death metal that adds pounds (or kilos) to the barbell and hair to the chest (regardless of gender). Nearly equal parts Bolt Thrower and Asphyx, Graceless’ sound is such a sure thing that I came into 2022 follow-up Chants from Purgatory with zero doubt that it would be awesome. These guys have already demonstrated their mastery of the style, so if this record is more of the same, I’m calling that a win.

Yep. It’s a win. And it doesn’t take long for Graceless to prove that absolutely nothing has changed in the past two years. Opener and single “Giants” gives you about four seconds of silence before the entire band jumps in together with a huge mid-paced chugfest. The song takes a turn towards the doomier side at about the midpoint, where heartfelt solos resonate over immense chords, but soon jumps straight back into the giant stomping rhythm that it began with. The other single, and the one that I’ve chosen to embed, reveals the contrast that Graceless employs in their songwriting. “This Ends with the World in Ruin” begins with some mournful clean guitars, then shows off the band’s splendid Bolt Thrower-meets-Asphyx groove with the main riff while never losing that initial melancholic spirit.

And the balance that Graceless strikes between the happy—maybe ‘angry’ is a better term—and sad bludgeonings on Chants from Purgatory is what makes the album so compelling. The two aspects really give the record staying power. “Giants” is joined by “Saint” and album highlight “Blood of the Brave” to form the primarily ‘angry’ portion of the album, while the Nightfellian “Nyctophilia” and the gargantuan, 1914-esque “Time Has Come for Us All” ally with “This Ends with the World in Ruin” to round out Team Sadboi Beatdown. The remaining tracks provide a nice mixture of both aspects, with the title track laying down some particularly nasty tremolo riffing.

As with Where Vultures Know Your Name, the production on Chants form Purgatory is pretty loud (this was very apparent when alternating between this and the recent DR 11 of Live Burial), but it really suits the style. The guitar tone is just filthy, and the bass can be heard rumbling beneath. Vocalist and guitarist Remco Kreft (who recently took on vocal duties for Just Before Dawn, another Bolt Thrower successor) has a really nice dry death metal growl, and, much like his countrymate Martin van Drunen, he perfectly delivers both the more viscous and the more sorrowful moments. If you’re a fan of this kind of caveman, beatdown death metal, you’re going to enjoy every track here, but “Chants from Purgatory,” “This Ends with the World in Ruin,” “Saint,” “Blood of the Brave,” and “Time Has Come for Us All” are the heaviest hitters.

As I mentioned above, I wasn’t worried about Graceless like I usually am with a returning favorite. They do this style so well, and they do it track after track without sounding tired or monotonous. How could they miss? Chants is every bit as impressive as Vultures, and with this, their third strong record, they’ve established a major foothold in the campaign to carry the Bolt Thrower banner into the future.

Rating: 3.5/5.0
DR: 5 | Format Reviewed: 320 kbps mp3
Label: Raw Skull Recordz
Websites: |
Releases Worldwide: September 30th, 2022

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