Hannes Grossmann - The Radial Covenant
A drummer has released a solo album?! What?! Really?!
Ok so a slight over exaggeration and blatant under appreciation of drummers in that first opening sentence, but let’s face it, drummers have often got a reputation for a reason. Most spend a good proportion of their time in the studio/practice room banging away on their drums, usually in all sorts of deafening fashions and usually whilst the other musicians are trying to discuss chord progressions and how the guitar solos are going to go. Perhaps that is just my band’s drummer (Sorry Alex haha). However what they never lack is ideas and their thirst for musical destruction is only almost only quenched by bashing things really really hard and really really fast and I do mean drums by the way.
Famous for his time in Necrophagist, Obscura and Alkaloid to name a few, the artist in question is not just a drummer; he is a bloody drum god. His hand and foot work blows the conventional drummer clean out of the water. Anyone aware of the bands mentioned above will know what I’m talking about. For those that don’t, here is an album to inaugurate you into the world that is Hannes Grossman.
The Radial Covenant is a break neck speed melodic and rhythmic roller-coaster masterpiece. As Grossman’s first solo album, this is some of his finest work to date and whilst here is a man with little to prove, he does have a pretty golden reputation to uphold. His skills and genius pushed to tipping points but are forever always remaining fluid and intricate. Some of his blast beats and drum fills beg belief and I’d go as far as to say unless you have a fairly decent modern computer, even the best composition and sequencing software would have a hard time keeping up with this guy’s beats and rhythmic patterns without going into total meltdown. Put simply, this man is a machine!
His first solo album is opened by the track Aeon Illuminate and at almost eight and a half minutes long it’s a solid introduction of what’s to be expected from the rest of the album. Its opening has all the ingredients of classic tech metal, insane time signatures, short, staccato laden riffs, boat rocking bass runs and drum fills faster than roadrunner himself. Every beat is accentuated and feels in perfect place. It’s a well thought out piece of music and when the aggressive vocals come in, the track continues to impress. The chorus is catchy and begs for those metal horns to be raised to the sky. Yet that’s just the start.
Openings like that found on Alien Utopia are to be expected of from musicians like Grossman. It is a testament to technical drummers all around the world and it is god damn awesome! I find myself questioning how any man can even move that fast, surely muscles explode and bones shatter at a certain speeds?! The song on a whole is very Arch Enemy in nature with its catchy melodic choruses and mid sections that Grossman dominates and makes his own.
The melancholy broken guitar chords at the start of The Sorcerer progresses into a head banging worthy guitar riffathon. Slow in tempo and yet exuberating in its nature, this is one of my favourite songs on the album. The double bass drumming is mind blowing, not just for its sheer speed, but for the slick attention to detail. Grossmans ability to keep the groove with his myriad of guest musicians truly speaks about his ability as a player. Virtuosic and exciting, the drums drive this song whilst the guitar riffs remain heavy and aggressive and the vocals stay close to home with their pretty standard to be expected death metal sound.
Solar Fire Cells blisters the ears with its cerebral assault; its complicated syncopated rhythms and classic melodic counterpoint make for listening that keeps you interested all the way through the song. It is not boring at all, and whilst it is one of the shorter tracks on the album, it remains at the same standard demonstrated throughout the entire first half of this incredible seven track album.
Laden with Keys and harmony guitar solos The Voyager is an amazing piece of music that will be going onto my IPod straight away, I can’t help myself, I do love a good well thought out composed instrumental. That and I love organ solos! Hannes Grossmans experiences within his past bands and immense percussive abilities come with a fantastic perk: His many lifelong acquaintances with other insanely virtuosic musicians.
Whilst Grossman is responsible for the album and its conception, it is the other guest musicians on the album that really help him convey his vision and what a roster of guest musicians he has on The Radial Covenant. Aside from his previous band mates from Obscura, Christian Muenzner and Linus Klausenitzer, he is joined by guitar legend Jeff Loomis of Nevermore, Danny Tunker of Aborted and Dark Fortress’ Santura to name just a select few.
The 2 part penultimate track, named after the album itself is a technical death metal prog stroke of genius. The clean vocals throughout the track give a fresh feel to the album after the previous instrumental, and at over 10 minutes long, Grossman never bores and impresses to the very end. I imagine even seasoned drummers would be pretty knackered after this slog fest and yet to the listener, it is over too quickly. Coming from the mind of one the world’s most talented drummers, his song writing abilities should be praised and adored. Grossman’s guitar playing on the album is not to be scoffed at either, his riffs throughout the whole album feel ferocious and ooze everything I enjoy about heavy metal music.
Finishing with what is a beautiful purely piano rendition of Obscura's Eculidean Elements found on their Omnivium album. It is a reminder of where Grossman once was and his true abilities as not just a drummer, but as a songwriter and musician.
This album might not be to the bog standard metal fans tastes, but to those that like it spicy and edgy then this is the one for you. Completely self-released after smashing his original crowdfund goals what Grossman has produced is awe inspiring tech metal fans wet dream. The progressive feel of the album is of no surprise looking at his inspiring death metal background. It is no wonder this part time tutor is looked up to by legions of young drummers all around the world. What a guy to learn from.
Words: Danny Gregory