Released: 2014, Self Released
Reviewer: Aaron Yurkiewicz
So what’s a guy to do when he’s got down time from playing drums with Obscura? Apparently write, record, and release a solo album that rivals the best that his day job has to offer. Drummer extraordinaire Hannes Grossmann not only sits behind the kit for the German tech death outfit, but he writes a chunk of the guitar riffs and arrangements as well. That being said, it’s no surprise that Grossmann’s solo debut THE RADIAL COVENANT sounds pretty much like an Obscura offshoot – and a pretty exceptional one at that.
Opening with the multi-multi-dimensional “Aeon Illuminate”, Grossmann wastes zero time getting things down to business. The 8-minute track bobs and weaves between hyper complex riffs deployed at warp speed, progressive reflection, and chest beating pomp in such a brilliant fashion that by the time it finally exits, you’re just realizing that it was only the first song. Credit where credit is due – much of this pedigree of death metal consists of just fisting as many ideas as possible into the context of a single song, but Grossmann’s got a knack for building bridges within his tunes that make these very divergent ideas work famously well.
“Alien Utopia” has a little more of a death groove woven underneath the melee, but tracks like “The Sorcerer”, “Solar Fire Cells” and the magnum opus title track really play up the sci-fi themes that Grossmann’s “other” band are so well known for. In rounding out the recording lineup for THE RADIAL COVENANT, Grossmann enlisted a cadre of his best pals to lay down guest vocals and guitar solos across the album, including his current bandmates, current members of Noneuclid and Triptykon, along with names like Ron Jarzombek and Jeff Loomis. Collectively it’s a pretty impressive lineup. Rounding out the album though is a solo piano rendition of the OMNIVIUM track “Euclidean Elements”. The original version is mind bogglingly complex enough, but hearing those arrangements translated through 88 keys makes it sound even more so.
THE RADIAL COVENANT was released way back in January and regrettably hasn’t had any kind of real PR push behind it other than Grossmann’s own word of mouth, which is a total bummer to think that an album this good is potentially missing out on a huge audience. All the more reason you should rise above and do yourself a solid by either heading over to Grossmann’s Facebook page to stream selected tunes, or just hit his Bandcamp page and buy the damn thing already. If you’re a fan of Obscura or of progressive/tech death in general, THE RADIAL COVENANT will be the easiest purchase decision you make all year.