Review: Hannes Grossmann – The Radial Covenant

hannesgrossmannHannes Grossmann
The Radial Covenant (2014)

Germany, Self-released, Technical Death Metal

Waiting for a new Obscura album is very similar waiting for a phone call from a potential significant other. Your palms sweat, you dream about what you are going say. And yet, when that call never comes, the heart is left wanting and waiting. I can imagine with quasi-logical conjecture that many tech-death listeners (me included) feel the same way. Obscura’s third album, Omnivium is perpetually in my car stereo with the digital copy playing on several devices that I own. This yearning however was eased significantly when I downloaded ‘The Radial Covenant” by Obscura’s drummer, Hannes Grossman. To be honest, I expected hearing compositions very similar to Obscura’s material, and while I was not too far off the mark, the music on Grossman’s solo album is indeed an unexpected departure from Obscura’s. Using the always effective analogy here (it works for me), this is like dating your spouse’s twin after a divorce, they may look the same but similarities arte only skin deep. Grossman, being one of the best drummers in metal seemed to know that quality begets quality and thus enlisted the help of several technically savvy musicians such as Jeff Loomis (Conquering Dystopia), Per Nilsson (Scar Symmetry), Watchtower’s Ron Jarzombek adding leads and fellow “Obscurians” guitarist Christian Muezner and bassist Linus Klausenitzer. The end result as I alluded to earlier should be familiar to Obscura fans and not surprisingly, the album exudes a plethoric majesty that very well could be considered a contender the best technical death metal album of the year. I write this based on three criteria; first, the production of the album is flawless, due to every instrument occupying its own niche in the sonic spectrum. Klausenitzer’s bass can be heard in equal temperament, which is a godsend in a genre where all the instruments in their “virtuosicity” are vying for equality. As far as the drums are concerned, and Grossman’s highly skillful notwithstanding, they echo the same brilliance shining on Obscura’s Omnivium.

Secondly, The Radial Covenant shows a definite progression in the tech-death genre as evident in Grossman’s compositions. Though complex, the songs are accessible due to the permeation of melody though out the album even on tracks with a fast tempo. The first song “ Aeon Illuminate” clocks in at 8 minutes.The tracks is the perfect example of technicality and melody juxtaposed together in the guitar riffs throughout the song. The third track “ The Sorcerer” demands the listeners avid attention as it much slower than its sonic brethren. The vocals beckon back the glory days of Pestilence’s Testimony of the Ancients. The next three tracks, Solar Fire Cells,The Voyager and The Radial Covenant ii give ample proof of Grossman’s command of the genre, interjecting baroque music, and the inclusion of synthesizers. These instances, although  are most likely welcome in Obscura’s music. The Voyager , for example is an instrumental that showcases fliud, jazzy keyboard lines and Jarzombek’s angular albeit beautiful guitar work, harkening back to Watchtower’s heydays as technical metal’s progenitors and eternal champions. Buttressing the album is an absolutely gorgeous solo   piano cover of Obscura’s “Euclidean Elements” off of the aforementioned “ Omnivium” album and leads the listener into a uniquely beautiful hybrid of classical and technical death metal.

Perhaps my love of all things Obscura precludes any non-partisan review of this album. For the most part, the album is a telling masterpiece of Grossman’s success as a composer, collaborator and musician. I do have one miniscule suggestion for Mr., Grossman (should he read this review) and I beg for forgiveness if this review is met with his disapproval. First, the album could include two more songs, thus rounding the total number of tracks to nine. I am sure, that line myself; Grossman’s listeners will be desperately craving more of his work. The intertwining melodies on this album are forever addictive. With that said, I cannot find anything wrong with The Radial Covenant .Each song is equally paced and leads the listener down a myriad of sonic hues until the triumphant climax of Euclidean Elements. At the close of listening to this album, and not too dissimilar to yearning for anything post-Omnivium by Obscura, the listener will be mentally and emotionally exhausted, delirious from such aural delight but left wanting so much more from Hannes Grossman.

Rating: 9/10
Author: Silent Deep Ocean

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